37. May 17: Mile 493.41 Maxwell Trail Camp to Mile 517.59 Hiker Town
Logic is not one of my best qualities. I regularly make decisions based on some kind of warped sense of reality. For example, a few days ago while I was at the grocery store I went to buy tortillas for a six day section of the trail. Instead of purchasing the regular size, I opted to try the smaller taco size. And then I did maths. Or something like that. I figured that four taco sizes would be the same calories as two regular sized tortillas which is what I normally eat each day. So somewhere along the line I figured four tortillas for six days would necessitate buying the pack of 70 taco sized tortillas. I didn’t even realize my massive error until my friends pointed out how ludicrous it was to buy 70 if I only needed 24.
Today, I proved once again how much of a blithering idiot I am. After drinking my liter of ebola water (which I have not died from as of yet) I decided to go to Sawmill Campground about six miles from where we had camped. There was water four miles ahead and even though I had a quarter if a liter left and it was rather cold out I still went for the water. A few minutes later as I was hiking up the spur trail I still had not gotten to the campground so I pulled out the map only to realize that the spur trail was a quarter of a mile long (it also said this on the sign that I looked at, but completely failed to pay attention to). Once at the campsite I looked at my water report and began following the directions to the guzzler. Another quarter of a mile later I finally found the damn thing next to a grove of trees. At this point I would have already been a third of the way to the next (and easier to access) water source had I just kept hiking. So here I am, pissed off at my own stupidity and proceeded to grabbed three liters so I wouldn’t have to fill up again for the rest of the day. After wasting a hour 30 minutes fuddling around I was so annoyed with myself that I did my best impersonation of Arie Luyendyk’s 1996 236 mph Indy 500 four lap qualifying average and hammered out the next several miles.
I hit 500 miles today! Full stop.
By lunch I had caught back up to Glow Worm and we descended down into the valley towards Hiker Town, a old western style hiker hostel that rather sketchy. On our way down, I turned on my phone to check something and realized I had a message from Cougar. It read that she and Dr. McDirty had gotten off the trail and were headed to a chiropractor in town. Even though we’ve known that she’s been hurting for a while, this was soul crushing. All excitement and laughter quickly dissipated. We’ve joked that Cougar and Dr. McDirty are our parents on the trail. We’ll often refer to them as mom and dad and to hear that they had to leave the trail is certainly the most heart breaking moment of my hike so far. At this point I have no idea what’s going to happen. She could feel well enough to get back on trail tomorrow or she could be done for good. It’s really hard to say as the only information I have is what she texted me this afternoon. Our little trail family has only known each other for a month, but it seems like decades. To lose not one, but two would be a major blow. Really hope things work out.
After learning the bad news about Cougar and setting a new personal distance record of 25.5 miles we made our way down the ridge and into Hiker Town. All of the little western buildings like the general store, prison, and saloon are all used for “accommodations” by hikers. In all reality they’re filthy shacks that house rabid humans. By the time Glow Worm and I arrived all the rooms were full, but we were thankfully allowed to camp behind some abandoned trucks to block from the gale force winds in the valley. This place really is a shit hole. My tent is wedged between a dumpster and a creeper van. But at least we’re shielded from the wind! Tomorrow we’re going to chill out here and hope to hear from mom and dad about their status before heading out in the afternoon or evening. The trail finally resumes going north after a couple hundred miles of moving west around Los Angeles by following the LA aqua duct for 20 miles in the valley in an exactly straight line. Depending on the temperature we may try to do this at night, but we’ll see.