Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day 25 : Little Jimmy Rescue

14.6 miles today
2279 miles to go

The door opens. It's dark, but I'm instantly awake. Shuffle, shuffle, tromp, tromp. Our fellow thru-hikers arrive from town. I saw their packs earlier. Now they are here. They bang their way through the room and upstairs to their rooms. I slept soundly till they woke me. Then I fall asleep again. I don't awaken again till the morning light is shining through the windows. 

I get up and do my normal morning routine. Making breakfast granola with instant breakfast powder, heating water and making a Starbucks via mocha. I open my resupply box and spread the contents across my coach. I am quicker at organizing than last time. I pack my pack. My goal is to get down to the hardware store when it opens to buy fuel. Then get a ride to the trailhead. 

Our wonderful and gracious hostess Novel drives me to the hardware store after dropping her son off at school. I am there early. I use the time to tape up the inside of one of my strap pockets. The store opens promptly at eight-thirty. I hand in my fuel bottle and it is filled. My cost? Eighty-six cents. That's pretty cheap for five days of fuel. The hardware store in Wrightwood is probably the friendliest store for Thru-hikers on the entire planet. 

I stand on the side of the road with my thumb out. This feels so abnormal. Cars pass by, I smile and wave. The sun is shining, it's a comfortable sixty something degrees. It's a beautiful day to be standing on the side of the road in Wrightwood. Someone will stop at some point. Another thru-hiker asks if he can join me. “Sure, why not” we stand together with our thumbs out. We wave at more cars. He decides to move down the road slightly. Bam, a guy stops. “Do you have room for two?” “Sure climb in.” I climb in, holding my pack on my lap. I mentally go through my check list. Is there anything I forgot? I think of nothing. Everything is accounted for, everything is in its proper place.

Dropped off at the trailhead at nine am I begin to hike. My goal is about twenty miles. The PCT parallels the routed of highway two, though it's on the other side of the ridge. North. The trail goes north. Dropping slightly. It weaves in and around knolls to the east of highway two. Then it drops steeply. I notice my knee. The right knee. Feels weak and wobbly. Not sure what this means. It slightly hurts to descend. Not badly, if I stop, it doesn't hurt at all. Achy and weak. Is it my joint? Don't know. I deal with this all the way down to the point where the PCT crosses the road to ascend Mt Baden Powell.

Steep uphill, switchbacks. Consistent pace, up and up and up I go. Higher and higher. Climbing back and forth across the east Dave of the mountain. Hours go by, I meet another Thru-hiker going up. He stays at my pace for awhile until he bores of our conversation. I slow down, favoring my knee. What is this? What does this pain signify. I will not be able to make it to Canada at this pace. I don't think I can even do twenty miles at this pace. 

Around lunch time I arrive at the top. Or as close to the top as I choose to get. The trail junction here is in the wind. Icy cold wind. There are other Thru-hikers here. Jukebox, Max, Anmei, I stop and make a salami wrap with the last of my salami. I eat a couple of Fritos. It's cold and I'm getting colder. “Descend, now,” I think. It's too cold up here. I leave the others and begin my descent of the northern trail, the PCT heading to Canada. My knee aches and complains. I grunt and groan. Am I making it worse by walking on it? Should I stop and make camp? There are no campsites. The ridge descends a knife-edged spur of the mountain. The wind piles the clouds on one side. Descending is painful and exhausting. I determine to camp at Little Jimmy Campground. 

I started this day with five liters of water. Five liters is more than I need to carry, especially now. I've drunk about a half a liter. It's too cold. I don't need this much water. I keep hiking. It's too cold to stop to empty water. Five liters. That's too much. No wonder my knee is sore. I am mad at myself for bringing this much water. Two liters would have been plenty for a day like today. I need to consider the temperature before hand so I don't over carry. The descent is sometimes in the sun and sometimes in the clouds. The lower I get the wetter the clouds become. The blowing moisture stick to the trees. The ground under each tree is wet, I walk under each one in a mini rainstorm. 

Little Jimmy Campground is out from under the clouds. I limp into camp. Gosh my knee hurts. Fire Angel has a fire burning. Thru-hikers are gathered around it. I walk up and stand around too. The heat feels great. I slowly warm up. Eventually I work my way over to the campground and set up my tent. This is it for me today. My knee needs to rest, I think. I don't think it's joint related. I think it might be inflamed tendons. What do I know, I'm not a doctor. I cook dinner then hang out with the other Thru-hikers. I hear stories from the others about Max. I guy I met up near the top of Baden Powell. He got a ride out by helicopter. Wow! I saw a helicopter while hiking here. That must have been his ride. Sobering, I don't want that to be my story. I suppose that's how Max felt too.

I head to my tent early. The sun is still above the horizon but I am tired and in low spirits. I suppose a few days rest would do my leg some good but it's hard to just sit around waiting. We'll see how I feel in the morning.

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