Trail Miles: 3.5
Bonus Miles: 2.4
PCT Mile: 41
ANJI, I tried to scream but nothing came out. HELP ME. Nothing again.
I was quite certain a mountain lion had its nose against my back. It was the middle of the night and I was paralyzed with fear. It didn’t move. I couldn’t move. After a while, it still hadn’t moved and I finally figured out it was just one of my bags that had settled and was touching my back.
I went back to sleep.
5am found us dreading getting out of our icy tents but doing it anyway. It found us with freezing cold hands, boiling water for breakfast and coffee. It found us stuffing our sleeping bags and all the little tiny things into all the little tiny bags and then shake-shake-shaking the tent to get the frost off.
Anji’s bag was wet from her mylar blanket and she set it out to dry. It turned to ice immediately. She shook it and set it out again. Repeat twelve times. The stove was frozen to the ground. I twisted it and chunks of frozen ground came off with the propane fuel canister, stuck beyond stuck to it.
We made a cup of coffee for the trail and headed out as the sun got around to showing up. Walk-walk-walk-walk-WATER. It was too early for a water crossing! We didn’t want to take our shoes off, so we simply crossed the bridge above with the cars.
No, the trail is this way, I said. It has to be, according to the map, I said.
…but I see a sign, Anji said. And she did. It was right there. I should know by now that she’s so practical, she’s generally right. I’ll learn…
We hiked through meadows with bunnies hop-hop-hopping along, their little white tails bobbing above the grass as they ran away. We hiked by the road and finally away from it and to the banks of Cottonwood Creek. There was no avoiding getting wet at this one. Anji put a latex-free medical gove on my foot to try to protect my toe. Since I’d put a hole in the toenail, we didn’t want cow-patty-water settling in there. Wouldn’t that be a gross infection…
So anyway, we pulled our stretch pants up above our knees and carefully started across. It looked like a little bridge was available, so we made our cold way over to it, but it was just a board floating in the water above a three-foot-deep pool of water. We made our way back and cut straight across to the other side. Both of us got our pants a little wet, but it wasn’t so bad. Anji took a picture of her pink little toes. The FarOut map warned that the crossing was, indeed, three feet deep. We updated it to let everyone know to hike slightly upstream and cross there…hopefully word got out.
Anji waited on the other side of the river to help another hiker find his way across. Then we headed to Boulder Oaks Campground. There we found that hiker’s wife, and stopped to visit with her. We told Anna about the problems with my feet, and she grabbed a pair of Altras trail runner shoes out of her truck and gave them to me as Trail Magic! Her kindness and selflessness unmatched, I threw my arms around her and cried a little. It was the best feeling in the world. Putting on shoes that fit. Wow.
They warned us against moving ahead. People are postholing up to their thighs and struggling for hours to make any progress, they said. People are turning around, they said. Don’t go, it’s too dangerous, they said.
They left and I looked at my phone.
It’s supposed to snow at 1:30, I told Anji. We looked to the sky as the temperature suddenly dropped and the clouds rushed in.
That was it. We decided to hitch to Mt. Laguna. That was the straw. We roadwalked with our thumbs out for 2.4 miles all the way to the onramp of the highway before someone gave us a lift. He was a nice man in a green pickup who was headed to help his son pick out a wedding venue. He dropped us at the offramp to Mt. Laguna and from there is took 3.4 seconds to get a hitch from a wonderful couple named Keith and Jen, who took us all the way to our hostel.
I hobbled my way along in the snow up to the office, and we opened the door to find lovely bunkbeds and Natalie sweeping the floor. She grinned a genuine grin and said Come On In. We settled our stuff and left to get a bite to eat because we were technically too early to check in. The cook at the restaurant turned out to be Natalie’s fiancee, and he took great care to make sure Anji’s food was gluten free. I could hear another cook in the back grumbling about the order when Thomas turned to him and said, What’s the problem? She’s just a customer who DOESN’T WANT TO DIE!
We liked him immediately.
We headed back to the hostel and Anji did laundry and all the things while I just put more holes in my toenails and they just leaked all over the place and I sat around feeling generally useless.
Aidan g · March 6, 2023 at 11:22 am
I’m so glad you got off the trail and didn’t try and follow into the waist deep snow.
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