So, my favorite red head popped up out of the blue two days ago! I had just made it to interstate 15, and already had so many experiences to blog about! Then I pulled up to shady spot, kicked off my shoes, and was mauled, by the one and only Shasta Bacon. She just got back from a winter in Mexico and Guatemala, went home for 2 days, and then flew to LAX to rent a car and come find me on the trail. It absolutely blew me away. I have her lovely company until May 23rd. And how do you suppose I repay her? I try to kill her on her first day hiking. She’s passed out in the park right now, and we’re in Wrightwood for the evening. She handled it extremely well, but it was a 5,000 foot climb from I-15 to here and she pulled a really tough 16 mile day yesterday. We got in today around lunch time and are welcomed into a friendly woman’s home, just Shasta and I, to get cleaned up, fed, and spend the night. Tomorrow, Shasta will be my road support, as she gives her severed, aching feet a break.
Here are some highlights of the last 8 days.
Lions and Tigers and Bears….No Joke!
I passed by some Hollywood stunt animals, all caged up in the middle of no where. I saw the Grizzly first. She was just laying there, looking all sad. In a cage barely large enough for three of her to fit into. Broke my heart. Bears are my favorite, and she kept lifting her head up from her arms, looking around, sniffling a little, then putting her head back down. Really seemed like she was crying. Surely Hollywood has enough money to buy their animals decent sized cages. Then I walked over to the kitties. The lion was roaring a lot, and when it did, I felt it in the pit of my stomach. Those vibrations are so strong. As I was walking toward the lion, I noticed a tiger head staring right at me. I stared back. I’ve always loved tigers cause I can see so much of my cat Max in them. I thought we were having a moment, so I took a step closer. The tiger reared back and started snarling and growling, then leaped forward and slashed at the side of it’s cage with brute force. My heart skipped a beat or two. Can’t say that I recall ever having been so effectively threatened in all my life! It was truly terrifying. Yet I understood. If I was that tiger, I’d hate me too.
My Very First Rattler:) Awwwwwww, Cute!
No big deal, actually. It did its little rattle thing, froze, and let me walk by without any trouble. It was black. Weird huh?
The Best Oasis in the World.
A couple of days ago, on an atrociously hot afternoon, I came by some hot springs. Not just hot springs though. It was a multilevel swimming paradise in the middle of the desert. With cool pools in a small canyon, hot springs up high in the rocks, and lots of happy, relieved swimmers jumping off rocks and saying repeatedly, “Is this heaven?” That very well might have been the best swim of my life….so far.
Ziggy and the Bear
The most famous trail angels I know of, Ziggy and the Bear, bought a house on the trail just so they could be what they are today. You role in all sweaty and exhausted and are immediately sat down, with a tub of hot water in front of your feet for soaking. They have transformed their backyard into a hiker haven, with carpet and shade. They do a burger king run for hikers everyday, which I partook in (my first fast food veggie burger in 10 years). I was their 401st hiker this season! Can you imagine putting up with that many hikers in one spring, and then still being up for it, without any signs of resentment, day after day…..for years! On the way out there was a sign, “If you like what you got…PAY IT FORWARD!” Incredible.
Papa Smurf and Mt. Mamma
Just after to scary tiger, I came to a nice little resting spot with coolers, chairs, and beer. It was 9am, but I thought, what the heck, and had a seat to enjoy a mirror pond pale ale. It was heavenly. On the coolers was a sign for some trail angels in big bear, Papa Smurf and Mt. Mamma, who I called and was picked up by later that evening from a highway crossing. They were hosting 14 hikers that night. Let us shower and do laundry, gave us rides to town, and cooked us dinner and breakfast the next morning. It’s been astounding how many people have been generous beyond anything I’ve seen before out here.
Finally Caught that Gator!
Just now, as I was walking to the library, I saw a hiking buddy, Shashinka, and was talking to him when I looked over and saw a rather familiar face. I pointed and said, “Hey!” really loudly. And he was like, “Hey……….uhhhhhhhh……..ohhhhhh…..Kiddo!!” Mike, or Gator, was finishing up his thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2011. I had just found out he was going to be out here a week before I started and was really hoping to catch him. And I did. He interviewed me on camera. Guess he’s making a cool documentary of his experience. A familiar face goes a long long way out here. It was great to see a friend!
That’s all I can think of to say right now. Today Shasta taught me some Spanish. And I ran into Gangster, which really thrilled me. Didn’t think I’d see any of the Idyllwild crew again. I’m really settling in to the trail life. I feel at home in the wilderness. I love this life. When I crawl into my tent at the end of the day, I sometimes go. “Yes!” Being alone actually doesn’t feel so lonely. Other than the pain of missing my love, which is brutal at times, it’s all good. 369.5 miles down and feeling frisky as ever! Thanks for all the love.