Day 23 – Old Friends and New

I leave my earplugs out so I can listen for bears overnight , but it seems they’re off doing other bear things. So it’s just me and Rich and the RV folks, sleeping in.

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In an effort not to get to the road until 8:30 or so – probably not going to be many people around before then to pick me up – I loiter until about 7:30, take my time down the trail, make it to the road with plenty of time to spare to beat my goal.

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Not that I needed to be prompt. The road is utterly empty.

Fifteen, thirty, forty-five minutes go by, and not a single car heads into Wrightwood. There are a couple in the other direction – one’s a day hiker, one apologizes sheepishly for going in the other direction, and one’s a fire truck that can’t pick me up. Three cars in a row race around the curves – in the wrong direction. It’s 9:30 now; Rich has arrived, is also waiting for a ride. Welp, maybe I’m getting into Wrightwood today.

Sasha texts, sends me the list of Trail Angels for Wrightwood. Rich and I start calling the folks on the list with our spotty service, seeing if anyone can bring us down. Jeff agrees to take the two of us, will be here soon. Thank goodness.

Of course, that’s when I run into Jerry and Ylva,  also trying to hitch.

The three racing cars come back in the right direction, and I throw my thumb out on a whim. The last one stops! He can take two, so it’s Jerry and Ylva in the car, Rich and I waiting for Jeff, who pulls up shortly. We have a pleasant conversation all the way into Wrightwood.

Jeff drops us off at the Evergreen Café, where our table seems oversized until we start, with permission, stacking thruhikers in it. Sasha comes first, then Sponsor and Shiloh, and soon we’re all happily munching away. I do my best impression of Kirby and inhale my food. It’s tasty, but not enough. Is this hiker hunger? I feel like if I have to ask, the answer is no, but maybe that’s a taste of it.

Sasha takes me to meet Reuben, the trail angel she stayed with last night. He’s a fascinating older gentleman, who runs a local counseling service. Made money, then went back to school to do what he loves, talk to people. I can tell he’s shrinking me, but I don’t mind. He tells a good story, I might as well give him one in return. For being such a good sport, he offers to let me stay with him, too – clean up, do laundry, charge things. Awesome.

I have to take care of some things first, though – signing the register at Mountain Hardware1, resupplying at the grocery store. Forgetting to buy ziplocs and sprinting over to the hiker box to grab some that someone else had left behind. Repackaging everything to my heart’s content.

Then it’s awkwardly meeting Rachel, Reuben’s wife – he forgot to call and tell her about me, but she’s not surprised. They’ve been married 57 years, so they know each other quite well. I take care of my cleanliness business and nap a little, then Sasha and I decide to take them out to dinner for their kindness. They drive us all the way to Victorville and a Chinese restaurant, where both Sasha and I attempt to pace ourselves so as not to terrify our hosts with our hunger.

We have such good conversation that I’m loathe to retreat into my phone to write, but it must be done. Back at the house, I finish up slowly, then settle into the soft sheets of bed. It’s the little things, I think, as I snuggle in.

Start: 367.3  •  End: 369.3  •  Day: 2
Notable Accomplishments:  Actually got a ride into town •  Met amazing Trail Angels  •  Don’t smell as bad now


[1] It’s a hardware store in Wrightwood. Not to be confused with one of my sponsors, Mountain Hardwear.

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