One of the tourist destinations in Bishop is Schat’s bakery, where no one is allowed to take photographs of anything inside. It’s a huge place that is filled with every kind of pastry imaginable, and has a separate room devoted to breads. Bambi and I headed over there for breakfast and looked around. It was like being at Disney World at first- everything was big and new and shiny. But, my sick body didn’t actually want any of that. I ended up buying a multi-grain roll and a single packet of butter, along with a latte. I was planning on sitting inside, but Bambi wanted to eat outside in the sun. When I walked out, I found an Indian man, clearly in despair, seeking help from Bambi. “You’re going to be okay, man,” Bambi was telling him, calmly. He turned to me and began enlisting my sympathy. I couldn’t understand him very well and thought his reservation was being taken away and his sister was soon to be homeless. He had tears in his eyes and kept shouting out his pain, wanting us to do something about it. All we could do was tell him it was all going to be okay. I went back into the bakery and asked Delaware Dave if he could come outside and eat with us, as we needed his help with a situation. He agreed, saying that anything interesting is good. When Razor walked out, the Indian man immediately called him Chief, which I found amusing. Razor said something dismissive and demeaning in return. The presence of the others succeeded in getting the man to leave. I realized that he had a new audience each morning outside this bakery. Bambi informed me that his sister was going to be put into a nursing home, and that was why he was so upset. He had repeatedly called me “sissy”, which I didn’t find so nice, but Bambi said he actually meant “sister”. Whistler came and sat with us, which made me happy. I showed him my Mt. Whitney jumping photo and he stared at it just as incredulously as he had stared at the rice krispy treat! “You have the best expressions!”, I told him. He had a very laid-back, easy-going demeanor and I liked being around him. He reminded me of my brother. I asked him where he was from and if he had ever been to the White Mountains. “I can see you working in the huts up there,” I told him. He had actually already hiked the AT and knew just what I meant. Because he had to get back to school, he was on a tight deadline to finish the PCT by August 26, which I found extraordinary. He had already lost a precious few days by getting lost over Glen Pass, and hiking it backwards after he had hiked it northbound. Because this mistake had caused him to be low on food, he had to make the additional unplanned trip down Kearsarge Pass and into town. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him again after today.
We headed back to the room to start packing. Bambi was heading back to the trail and I was heading to Lone Pine. I texted Muk Muk and asked what she was doing and she replied that she and UB were eating sundaes at 8:30 in the morning! She was looking forward to seeing me and said they were planning on taking me to the ice cream shop once I arrived!
Bambi showed me his photo at the starting monument. On our descent down Forrester, he was telling me how stiff and awkward he looked in that picture. “My hand was gripped into a claw.”
“And how do you look in pictures now?” I asked.
“Rugged and cool.”
It’s fascinating to see the change that visibly occurs in us after only about 10 days of hiking. Our entire demeanor changes as the things that control us in our other lives slip away from our bodies.
He asked me if my arms were so toned from doing yoga. I didn’t know how to answer that because it had been a long time since I had done any yoga! The only thing I was doing now was planting my hiking poles into the ground with each step. Bambi had just gotten 2 poles for himself and was practicing in the room. He had no idea how to use them and looked like a stiff geriatric man with canes!
I wanted to bring his leftover pole that he had found in the hiker box at Kennedy Meadows to UB, who had thrown his poles (as well as his cooking pot) over the mountain on a day that his past reared its head and overtook his self-control. When he told me the story at Kennedy Meadows, I told him that when that happens, he just needs to get calm and breathe and let it pass. And if he stills needs to throw something, he can throw some sticks or rocks. “Throwing the things you need down the mountain just hurts you more,” I said. (And the environment…).
“No!” he quickly shouted back. He said he didn’t need to get quiet.
Whistler was also ready to head back to the trail, but wanted to write some postcards first. I decided I might as well make use of the pool while I waited and again saw the family from last night.
Finally, we were all packed and ready to go. We walked to Main St. and stuck out our thumbs. Bambi turned into an extrovert and was doing all sorts of actions in hopes of getting someone to stop. No one did. After lots and lots of attempts, someone told us we would be better off trying to hitch down the road, closer to the interstate. So, we slung on our packs on another roasting hot day, and walked down the street. “Who wants a smoothie?” I asked as we passed the coffee shop. Bambi had told me that I need acidophilus and that the yogurt in a smoothie would be good for me when we came in yesterday, but after he read some information about flagyl, realized there was a high chance that I am now lactose intolerant and that yogurt would be bad for me! Great!
We walked down the shadeless street, wondering where would be a good place to try our luck. It seemed to go on forever! We finally stopped on a street corner only to be later told that we would have better luck up the road, across from the gas station. So, we moved on. There was a single tree in front of a municipal building that I wished was closer to the road. I put my pack down and joined the guys in sticking my thumb out. We were having no better luck down here! Why was it so impossible to get a ride around here? Bambi continued his antics of waving the cars down, kneeling down on the pavement, and holding his hands in prayer. “You know you want to give us a ride!”.
Finally, a van pulled up and asked us where we were headed. He said he was only going partway. Bambi decided to take him up on it. I got in the front seat and the guys sat on the floor in the back. We were driven about 10 miles down the highway, at which our driver needed to turn into a ranch to prepare for the rodeo coming into town. He asked us if we were going to be okay.
As the cars whizzed by at over 60 mph, we realized what a huge mistake it was to have accepted a partial ride. We were in an even worse place to try to hitch than when we first started trying! Bambi started doing russian splits at the oncoming traffic! No one cared. I texted Muk Muk and let her know that I was still far, far away from Lone Pine. Not only did I need to get this impossible 30 mile hitch from the middle of a highway, but I also had to find another 15 mile ride once we got dropped off in Independence!
Luckily, the driver of a pick-up truck took pity on us and pulled over. We were so happy! He was holding a mason jar of water between his thighs and would pick it up ever so often to take a sip. I was envious of the refreshing-looking water! ‘Wagon Wheel’ came on the radio and I looked back at Whistler. “The AT song!”.
As we drove by the Sierra mountains, our driver talked about Fossil Falls and the petroglyphs you could find there, as well as the bighorn sheep that lived in the area. There were so many things I didn’t know about and so many things you could see if you weren’t constrained to one path with a very limited time frame in which to hike it! I wanted to come back here and have a chance to explore the area.
He dropped us off at the gas station in Independence. Whistler asked if he could get a hug. “Of course!”. I figured I better give one to Bambi, as well, even though it didn’t feel nearly as natural. Bambi asked for my number and I told him not to text me because I get charged if it’s not from another iphone! Then, I headed down the road to start the third part of my hitch.
Luckily, this was the easiest one of the three by far! A couple that I had made eye contact with as I was looking for desert last night and they were leaving a restaurant recognized me! “We saw you in Bishop!” they said. They were super nice and brought me right to the Dow Hotel, where Muk Muk and UB were staying. I checked into my room, happy to have my own space again, and immediately headed over to the lunch place with 10 minutes to spare before they closed! I texted Muk Muk after I placed my order. I got some refreshing lemonade with my burger and it came in a large glass mug that reminded me of our driver’s mason jar I had been envying! Happiness!
Muk Muk said they were going to get pizza and wanted me to join them, but she and Lion King ended up coming in to meet me. The energy was centered around Lion King, who was complaining about hiking in the heat. He was doing small sections of the PCT and had hiked a southbound section to meet Muk Muk in Lone Pine. We headed back to the motel, where Muk Muk wanted to take a nap, and agreed to meet up later to get the ice cream sundaes, as promised! I gave her a big hug and ended up lifting her off the ground! She had gotten so tiny since the last time I had seen her!
I wanted to take a nap as well, but decided that I had better write postcards that I promised I would send. That took quite a bit of time! 5:00 arrived and there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find UB with Muk Muk and got a big hug! Then we headed over to get our sundaes.
Mine ended up hurting my stomach more and more and I wasn’t able to even finish it, while UB got a second one (his third for the day!). I think the flagyl had made me lactose intolerant! I felt awful!
UB wanted pizza for dinner and said we could share one later in the evening, but I knew the cheese wouldn’t be good for me. It felt so sad to not be able to eat the foods that all of the other hikers were enjoying! UB headed back to their room on his own, leaving Muk Muk and I to our “girl talk”. After a couple of stories, we headed back ourselves. Muk Muk stopped it in at the outfitters to inquire about getting a ride back to the trail by way of Horseshoe Meadows. There was already a couple of people signed up for that ride, so she and UB were able to join in. There were no rides back to Onion Valley trailhead, where I needed to go, however.
We walked down the street and I saw 5-Star and Purple Haze in the window of a restaurant eating dinner! I knocked on the window pane and waved and they invited us in to say hi. They had not yet met Muk Muk, and were delighted with her exuberant personality and Australian accent, as all men were. I asked Purple Haze how many days it had taken for him to feel better after taking the flagyl and learned that he had taken the antibiotics for five days! What?! I told him that Bambi had said it was one dose, but Purple Haze said, “no, you need to take it twice a day for 5 days”! Before I had received the dose from Bambi, I was planning on asking a college friend who is a doctor if she could write me a prescription. After talking to Purple Haze, I knew I still needed to do this!
We returned to our rooms and agreed to meet up later for pizza. Muk Muk placed a delivery order and came down to my room to share it. She talked about a lot of guy stories on her journey so far and seemed to understand that they were happening to teach her a lesson, but she hadn’t yet figured out what exactly the lesson was. We had talked about these kinds of things at kick-off and she wondered how I knew so much about keeping boundaries. I told her that I was forced to learn those things on the AT! The same kinds of awful behaviors kept showing up! Because Muk Muk is so naturally open and friendly, a lot of people think they can get things from her. I encouraged her to keep thinking about the way she was being treated and perhaps change her behavior a bit to better protect herself so she wasn’t being taken advantage of. I was very dismayed to hear that Lion King had made her pay for his hotel room in Lone Pine! After we finished the pizza, I gave her my neon yellow fleece jacket, as I now had a black one that I felt much more comfortable with! The yellow color looked much better on her!
We wished each other a goodnight and agreed to meet for breakfast in the morning. All of this hitchhiking and moving from town to town was exhausting!