Sunday, May 8, 2016

Day 8 : The Day of the Sore Pinky Toe

25 miles today
2503 miles to go

Up before the sun again. Not so unusual now that I think about it. I was always up before the sun in my pre-hiker life. Today is Paradise Cafe day so I had extra motivation. Even with all that extra motivation I was the second to the last one out of camp. I guess my morning routine isn't as efficient as others. Not sure how to improve that either. I chatted briefly with the camp's sole remaining occupant, Robert the German. He said he needs to find new trail companions that want to take their time in the morning. I told him it's Paradise Cafe day. Since he hadn't eaten there before this information didn't provide any clarity as to why he was now alone.

On the trail. Cold, way cold, uncomfortably cold. Certainly not what I was expecting. Breezy and cloudy - the sun makes intermittent appearances as the breeze tears and reforms the clouds in endless puffy patterns. Is it partly sunny or partly cloudy? Maybe it's mostly sunny? Don't know the formal definitions of those terms but a weather person would probably use one of them to describe today. 

I describe today as the ‘Day of the Sore Pinky Toe.’ On every step on my right foot. Pain, step, pain, step. On and on it goes. The pain isn't bad enough to warrant immediate attention, it's just nagging constant pain. As in a blister that wants to pop. I thought that wrapping it in tape was a good idea yesterday. Turns out that it wasn't. My left pinky toe has a popped blister on it, wrapping it took care of any pain I once had. But right one… Not so much. Step, ouch, step ouch. Fourteen miles to Paradise Cafe. Today I did a better job of planning my logistics for the day. I filled both pockets of my pants with snack foods and have enough water to go about halfway, I estimate. It's just this toe. Finally I stop, sit on a rock, remove my shoe and sock and look at my taped toe. Yep, it's taped, nope, not gonna in tape it. Then I put my sock and shoe back on and began to walk again. Yep, still hurts. 

Paradise is paradise, though, even for those of us with sore pinky toes. I sat down on the patio. The live music started up and I was in… paradise. I forget about my toe because I am not taking any steps on it. I order a coffee milkshake and a Mother Lode burger. Even the name makes it sound big. And it is! Two half pound patties, avocado slices, tomatoes, onions, American cheese, two strips of bacon, and lettuce. It comes of a fresh bun and with fries. I eat the whole thing, and don't even feel full. While eating I chat with the friendly couple at the next table. They are not hikers, but they wanted to know about my trip. It was fun to get to talk about it. They asked me, “What does it take to get somebody to decide to do something like this?” I said I didn't know, I've been asking the others hikers the same question. I think there is a certain segment of the population that is born with the ‘hiker’ gene. Now I don't know the science and I am not qualified to say anything intelligent about genes, but I can tell you that Thru-hikers are found mixed into the general population, they don't seem to be any specific nationality or ethnicity. They come from all levels of the socio-economic spectrum. They all share a love for nature and of hiking. I didn't get their names but they were super friendly and generous giving some awesome trail snacks to me and Parker, the other Thru-hiker I was sitting with. Thank you anonymous trail angels!

I finish my food and it's time to hike. I ask the friendly people inside Paradise Valley Cafe (the real name) if they could fill my water bottle and they do so gladly. It's such a great place to stop when hiking the PCT.  Back on the trail, oh yeah, I have a sore pinky toe. One more day, tomorrow I hike into Idyllwild for a zero day, which will be Tuesday. A zero day is a day when you hike zero miles. A day to relax and do stuff I haven't done for the last week or so because I was hiking. Things like, take a shower, wash my hair, do laundry, get and send mail, maybe make a YouTube video or go to the movies, eat pizza, you know normal people stuff.

That starts tomorrow night. Today I still have to hike. I hike up the trail and meet Jared and Lindsey and their young family. It was cool seeing a new generation of kids being exposed to the wonders of the PCT instead of being stuck home with TV and video games. Jared’s a teacher and really excited about learning and teaching about the PCT. It would be cool if meeting me will spark some interest in their cute kids in experiencing all the trail has to offer. After chatting with them for a few minutes it was time to continue on I still had another ten miles or so to go. 

Four o'clock, I am approaching the top. My goal is to make it to Cedar Springs trail but in having serious concerns about making it in time. The temperature is dropping. The elevation up here is above six thousand feet so it's significantly colder. I'm still in my hiking shirt, sweaty hiking shirt. The wind is ripping through it and chilling me to the bone. I am walking in the shade on the east side of the peak. I come around the corner and find Braveheart setting up camp. Awesome! Awesome! I don't have to hike another five miles in this cold wind. I'm home. Braveheart found a great sheltered spot where the gusting wind doesn't really reach. I am so cold. I shiver as I throw on a couple more layers and setup my tent. We laugh and joke about our days and our adventures. We cook our dinners and eat our pots of food. More to have calories to burn and to keep warm than for the taste. The bitter cool breeze quickly stifles conversation as we each settle into our tents and sleeping bags for the long cold night.

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