I was a little shook up getting into Onyx. Didn’t know what to expect, and felt like the only person on the planet. Now it was time to hitch-hike, alone, and that’s where the media has done it’s evil work on me. I was nervous.
I really didn’t need to be, though. I was picked up by a chatty, old man. Who went on and on about how much he loves women and thinks there the most beautiful things ever made, and that men are awful and don’t treat them well. He said he loves all women, including me, and gave me $50 dollars! I was like, “No, I can’t except this.” But he wouldn’t hear it. Actually, I’m pretty sure he couldn’t hear it, which is why he monopolized the conversation the whole way to the PO.
With that $50, I could no longer make up excuses not to be able to afford to stay in town, and 6 days in the sandy desert meant I needed to get cleaned up in the worst way. I got 2 more hitches that day, one from a nice brother and sister who grew up in the area and think us hikers are inspiring. Another from a layed back, cool cowboy, who reminded me of Montana. He pulled over to pick me up and said, “You can get in, as long as you don’t mind my smoking this joint.” I figured that would work just fine, cause then he wouldn’t be able to smell me:) Plus, I’ve never been one to mind what people do, and I like when they’ve got nothing to hide. Hiking has a lot to do with exposing yourself. At least, it does to me.
Lake Isabella was perfect, other than the fact that the library was closed. There was a strip mall with subs, pizza, and tacos that I hit up happily, and later that night I went out for shakes with some other hikers. One of them was The Kid. I’d been carrying his lost gator since the Saufley’s house, over 200 miles, and I was stoked to catch him and pass it on. He bought me dinner in appreciation. Being able to catch someone with their forgotten gear is the greatest feeling. You kind of get to be a hero for a couple of minutes.
That town stop was so good to me! It completely changed my outlook. I went from feeling alone and worried to feeling safe and joyful. The world is full of amazing people. The next morning, I hopped a bus back to Onyx, and the driver was a great conversationalist who played great music and told me about one of her finest experiences in life hiking through the high Sierra with a singing group. She told me how spritual and enlightening it was. It sounded incredible. Then I picked up a great hitch from Onyx back to the trail. A friendly man on his way to work in Ridgecrest. Who told me of all the great things yet to come and congratulated me for being so brave.
At Walker Pass, there were already hikers I knew sitting at the trailhead. I knew the lonely times were over for now. Right as I was getting ready to leave, a truck pulled up with the trail-famous Meadow Ed in it. He’s in Sheryl Strayed’s book, Wild. I sat and talked to him for a couple of hours, and he fed us coffee and doughnuts, and told us stories of some of the most amazing hikers ever. He talked about when Sheryl passed through, and it was neat to hear first hand from a different perspective of something I’d read about.
I left the trailhead at 10:30. The others critized me for not sticking around till lunch, but I had a feeling there was something really great waiting for me out there. I wanted to get to Kennedy Meadows! 50 miles left of desert, and the gateway to the high Sierra calling me. So, on I went.