Day 137: A sweet horse and lots of laughs

Day 137
September 2
mile 2355.3-2381.5
26.2 miles

The horses did stomp the ground and snort throughout the night, but I was at least able to get a little rest. I wondered how it was possible that they never slept, themselves!
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I got up around 6:30 and headed over to the tent for breakfast. I was surprised that only Beads was there! Craig and Texas Poo were standing by the fire pit, looking at the mist over the field. I was asked to go back to my tent to get my pot for the oatmeal, which Dragonfly had made. We got to put some maple syrup in it for flavor. It had little pieces of apple in it, which tasted really good! Afterwards, I added some boiling water to my packet of Via for coffee. I learned that Beaker and Dragonfly had started the trail this year, but since they had already hiked sections of the PCT, only wanted to cover the terrain that they had not already seen. They had met Beads early on, and when she learned that her grandfather had passed away, Dragonfly and Beaker brought her to the airport so she could attend the funeral since they lived close by. Last night, Dragonfly picked her back up and brought her here.
Craig (now OTC) and Texas Poo were recalling the trail magic at Lake Isabella that Yogi and several others came out to do. Almost everyone ended up spending the night there, except for Craig. Yardsale was trying to get him to stay. “We want to hear about the 90s! Stay, and tell us what the 90s were like!”. I thought that was funny.
As I walked back to my tent to pack up, I saw Texas Poo petting one of the horses. “I want to pet one, too!”. Not being a horse person, I didn’t know if that was an okay thing to do or how they would react, but I decided to try petting the one closest to me. I talked to it and put my hand in front of its mouth to give it a chance to warm up to me. Within minutes, it was allowing me to pet him and even put its face up to mine! Craig came over to take a picture, but it got skittish and backed away a little. After he left, the horse allowed me to get close to him again and then it did the most astonishing thing! It turned its head and rested its jaw on my shoulder! I couldn’t believe it! I wanted someone to take a picture, but everyone was back in their tents! I know that horses are very sensitive to people’s energy and that they don’t like fearful people or harsh people. I couldn’t believe it was trusting me so much! The owner had come out to unclip them from their ropes and let them graze in the field and saw what the horse was doing. He told me its name was Annie and warned me that she got excited when the others were getting released, so I should watch out. When he unclipped her, she headed into the woods instead of the field until he called her to turn around. Their front legs were still tied tightly together and I felt so bad for them!
I broke down my tent, packed up, and went back to the tent to thank Beaker and Dragonfly before I headed out. Even though I had very little water, I decided that I didn’t want to go backwards to collect more. The next spring was in 5 miles.
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I walked alone, passing through another burn area, and then back into the woods before reaching the spring.

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The sun was burning down, so after collecting the water, I went and sat on the slope on the side of the trail where it was at least partially shaded. There, I filtered the water and had a snack. Texas Poo came along as I was sitting there and we chatted for a minute.
I headed out alone again, climbing up to a ridgeline.
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After a couple of miles, I decided to sit and have my ice coffee break while I had a nice view. I had to put my rain jacket on because I was chilly sitting there. When I was just about finished, I heard someone pushing hard to get up the hill. It was Craig and he looked like he was on a mission! He was pounding the ground with his poles and huffing his way up. When he saw me, he stopped. Then, Texas Poo came charging up behind. His head was down and he was dripping with sweat. The sight made me laugh! I thought we were long finished with sweating! He started swearing at OTC. “What got into you? All of a sudden, you started charging up the mountain like a mad man! I couldn’t keep up!”.
OTC said that he had eaten too much sugar which had affected his mood and made him start thinking about things that made him angry. He took all of that energy and started moving like he never had before!
I said I wished I could charge up one mountain like that!
We fell into line again and started hiking together. I said that I couldn’t believe that horse had rested its head on my shoulder! I was still really happy about that. Texas Poo said that he tried petting the same one after I had left and it wouldn’t allow him to. The female owner said that one was ornery. Even the man that saw it couldn’t believe it!
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Texas Poo and Craig both love to talk about music and occasionally stopped to show each other videos. Craig showed Texas Poo a you-tube video about a man trying to to fix a piano and swearing up a storm and Texas Poo shared the video that Craig took when he caught him dancing during a break. I asked him if that was a tap dance because that’s what it looked like to me!
I had read in my guidebook that there was an easy side trail to the top of Blowout mountain with 360 views that was supposedly a sight not to miss. I had been been keeping my eye out for the turnoff and when I thought we had reached it, asked the guys if they also wanted to see it. We turned down the path and then got confused. Craig looked at the map and then crumpled the piece of paper and threw it to the ground. “All done with that one!” he shouted out. My eyes grew wide and I stared at the ball of paper on the ground. Is that really how he disposed of his maps? I tried not to react on the outside and then looked at Texas Poo to see what he was thinking. When he laughed, I did, too. And then OTC said, “Second littering reaction recorded!”
“You were filming me?!”.
“Yup.” Texas Poo was the first he had tried that one on. We turned around and started bushwacking up the mountain. Texas Poo kept tripping over fallen trees and swearing. I began to think it wasn’t worth all of this trouble. When he got farther away from me, he called out, “Oh, wow! The views are incredible up here!”.
“No they aren’t!”. I knew it was all forested and they couldn’t see anything. We all turned back. On the way down the boys pretended to get in a reality-TV-like fight, hurling insults at each other the whole way. I took my time getting down but I could hear them at the bottom making up.
“Thanks, Jackie, for misleading us!”, they shouted out. We had lost a decent amount of time on that failed attempt, but it was nice to be around good-natured people who really didn’t care. We headed on. The guys were planning on taking their next break at the water source coming up in six miles. I don’t know how they could last so long without eating or resting! As we walked, Texas Poo started to bring up some anger about a previous relationship. He said this was the first time he had mentioned it on this hike and had promised himself that he wasn’t going to bring it up. Before long, he started picking up the pace and went ahead of me and OTC.
The spring was located off the trail on one of the switchbacks. You were supposed to stand and listen for it. Fortunately for us, a bright pink piece of tape was placed on a rock with an arrow and H2O written on it. I said to Craig, “The trail is so much different than it was in the 90s!”. Craig looked at his phone and said “It’s a four bar forest!”. I decided that I had enough water on me and didn’t need to take the side path. Craig thought Texas had continued on, but I said he was probably down by the creek. “Oh, you’re probably right!”. He encouraged me to hang out by the water with them, but I wanted to get in 10 more miles and time was short. I sat down on the labeled rock and ate a snack and then headed on, down towards the next dirt road, and then up another mountain range.
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In the evening, I came across Story Time sprawled out along the trail. Last night, he had night hiked out of the Urich shelter, which I found odd. I expected him to be further ahead, but here he was, right at the same spot as me again. He asked me if I had collected water at the spongy spring. “No. I have enough.” He looked at the water level in my bottles to see if he agreed. Then he asked how much longer I was going to hike. I told him probably 30-40 minutes. He said he was going to the same. Now that I had competition, I had to really move. There weren’t any campsites listed in this area in our guidebooks, so finding one was going to be tough enough. I finished the climb, crested the ridge, stopped for a short snack, and then descended back into the woods. The light was diminishing rapidly.
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I looked to the sides of the trail but saw no possible places to camp. Ahead, I knew there was a series of dirt roads and power lines which did not seem inviting to sleep near. I heard a loud crash in the forest and saw another elk run off. The longer I hiked without seeing anything, the more worried and stressed I became. I could barely see the terrain, as it was because it was so dark. I reached the bottom of the descent and fortunately saw a nice flat space to camp just two minutes before 8:00. I felt so relieved! I quickly got to work setting up my tent, needing to put my headlamp on to do so. As I was placing my things inside, Story Time walked by and started up the next climb. I felt a little bad, but he didn’t ask if he could stay here and I knew he liked hiking in the dark.
I cooked my dinner from inside my tent and looked at my guidebook for the next day. As I did so, I heard loud voices coming down the trail. As they came nearer, I could hear one of them exclaiming about some things that his ex-girlfriend had done. When they reached the place where my tent was set up, they said. “There’s Wendy!.”
“Yup. You’re still talking about her?”.
“You could hear that. Oh, jeez. It was only in the last 10 minutes that I stated talking about that again,” Texas Pooh said. “How embarrassing.”
Craig asked if I had found the trail magic at Tacoma Pass. I hadn’t. He said it was pretty hidden and that Texas Poo hadn’t seen it either. Because he had his headphones in, he couldn’t hear OTC calling after him, and OTC had to chase him down. Texas Poo offered me an apple, but I said I was fine. “If it were a banana, I would take it”.
“You’ve walked over 2,300 miles and now you are starting to get picky?”.
They said they were going to hike for another mile or so and would see me tomorrow. “What time are you getting up?” I asked.
“3:45” said Craig.
Ha, ha. “Okay, well, I’ll see you sometime tomorrow!”.
I finished cleaning up and hunkered down for some sleep.

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