Sunday, June 5, 2016

Day 36 : Thank God for Trail Angels and Apple Fritters

25 miles today 
2080 miles to go

Restless, sleepless. Second night in a motel room. Luxury, king size bed, clean sheets. I can't sleep. I want to hike. The night passes slowly. Will the trail angel I spoke with yesterday come through or will I be trying to catch a ride with Mike’s motel shuttle? Doesn't matter, sleep. No luck. I toss and turn. Braveheart has enough food to get to Walker Pass then she has to resupply. She'll be back at Walker Pass on Wednesday. Walker Pass is about one hundred miles from where I am starting tomorrow. If I can do roughly twenty-five miles per day from today through Wednesday I'll be at Walker Pass on Wednesday too. I miss hiking with her. This is my goal, reach Walker Pass on Wednesday. I can't sleep. Will my knee hold up? I research tendinitis on the Internet. The second part of my goal is to not aggravate my right knee and allow it to heal. My thoughts swirl and repeat. Sleep is elusive tonight.

Four am, I wake up. I guess I slept a little. But that's long enough. I take my last shower for the next few weeks, probably won't get another until Mammoth Lakes. I don't need one, I take a shower because I can. I dress in my Thru-hiker clothes and pack most of the rest of my stuff. I eat half of a apple fritter I bought at Stoken coffee and donuts yesterday. This is the best apple fritter I have ever had. It must have a million calories. I start to feel a little giddy from all the sugar. I think I should eat some ‘real’ food, protein, fat, complex carbs. That means Denny's. I partially fill my coffee cup with water. I walk down to the ice machine, we are friends now, I've been here so much. I fill my cup with ice. Walking to Denny's in the pre dawn hours, it's warm. Trains seem to go by incessantly on the opposite side of the street, first heading one way, then a train heading the other goes by. The clunk, clunk, train clunk of cars on the tracks is a sound you're never very far from if you're in Mojave.

I order Moons Over My Hammy. This is a sourdough breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and ham and a half a plate full of hash browns. I put butter on the hash browns. Lots of carbs and fat. Just what I need today. The television is playing the morning news. It's switched to an LA channel. All the news seems to be about fires. All kinds of fires in LA County. My food comes and I text Isaac the trail angel, not sure what to expect. He said to text him at five am, he’ll be up. Is he serious? Maybe he lives far away. Sometimes I spend too much time overthinking things. He texts back, “Yea man, whenever your ready!!!” He's so enthusiastic, almost like he wants to take time to drive a hiker twelve miles to the trailhead. His enthusiasm inspires me. I am looking forward to spending time with someone so full of life. I stuff myself. I cannot finish the last little crust of my sandwich. The hash browns though, are gone.

Back at my room I stare at the half eaten apple fritter. I can't imagine ever wanting to eat anymore so I throw it away.  I gather my stuff and head down to the office to drop off my room key card. Down by the office I drop my pack against the wall. Another train is going by. I'm a little early. The train slows and comes to a complete stop. Then on a track even closer a train goes by in the opposite direction. I don't know what it is about trains but I enjoy watching them. Isaac pulls up in his car. He's all smiles like he's been waiting all night to drive me this morning. I offer him gas money, a cup of coffee… “Naw man, save your money dude for down the trail.” He talks like that. He's laid back, cool, like he's ready to go surfing. I like him. He's an artist doing all kinds of things. He was helping out a friend with some graphics last night. He loves the desert. He's inspired by the windmills, the mixture of high-tech and the dusty, gritty desert makes him think of Star Wars locations. I had to admit, when I was walking through the wind farm in the middle of the night there was something other-worldly about it. Our trip to the trailhead passed way too quickly. I could have spend hours talking with him. “Well here we are, if you want to follow my blog it's…” “Yea man, write it on this.” He hands me a paper with a bunch of blank lines. I write my blog’s url on the top line. The header of the page says, “Sermon Notes.” “You didn't get very many notes for this sermon.” “Naw man,” he smiles and laughs. “You mind if I pray for you and your trip?” “No, that'd be great!” He prays like he does it for a living. I feel inspired and alive. It is Sunday. I feel like I've been to church. “Thanks Isaac, you truly are an angel.” With that I got out, grabbed my pack, and he was gone. I headed done the trail floating on pillows. The emotions caught up with me. The anxious moments and deadends I experienced yesterday came back to me. I was overly concerned about stuff outside of my control. Stay living in the moment and Gods providence plays out without stress in a way I couldn't have planned or even imagined. Some attribute this to ‘trail magic’, I see too many variables involved for magic. I also see the willful obedience of people like Isaac to an inner voice that cause them to reach out and help others. God bless you Isaac.

Lost in thoughts the first seven miles fly by. Walking in the wind farm. Cool breeze, awesome views of the desert. Fun stuff. I reach the switchbacks down the highway fifty eight. Down, down, down. The trail is different than the trail south of here. Packed, solid easy to walk on trail. I make it down to the highway about the time the bus pulls up from Mojave. Cap and Spice hop out. I thought the bus didn't run on Sunday's. I was wrong.  Now we go up. I climbed down a thousand feet. The climb back up is two thousand feet. Switchbacks, I really like switchbacks. They guide you slowly and sanely up the hill at a pace and pitch that is sustainable. I feel like I could walk all day climbing switchbacks. The breeze lasts all the way up. The higher I get, the cooler the air becomes. Wow, an apple fritter would really be good right now. Throwing the other half was a mistake. Note to self: never throw away food! 

This is the southern end of the Sierras. These are mountains. Not quite as tall as those further north, but they have trees, and views. At the top of the switchbacks the mountains begin. It feels like mountains. Now the trek north is real. Up till now it's been a desert odyssey. I have learned how to hike in the desert. Now it's time to transition back to mountain hiking.

The trees slowly transition for the desert plants if grown used to seeing to more of a woodland feel. Similar to the plants found in the foothills of Northern California. Temperatures are similar too, and the lack of water. This last issue is the one that guides my hiking now. Golden Oak Spring is the first source of water in twenty miles so that is where I'm heading. I walk carefully, trying to avoid doing anything to my right knee. I walk slower than I want too, hoping that a few more days of ‘easy’ walking will allow my knee to fully heal. Golden Oak Spring is a concrete trough filled with scummy algae adorned water that has tadpoles swimming in it. There are a number of hikers here when I arrive. Most of them have been here for hours waiting out the hottest part of the day. They are now packing up as I collect my water. There is a white pvc pipe that is dribbling out a tiny stream of water. It takes fifteen minutes to fill my three liter water containers. I get five liters for tomorrow and a liter and a half for tonight. I put my tent close to the spring, just off the trail on a nice flat spot that the other hikers are vacating. The dust is fine and the breeze coats my stuff in a fine gritty layer of dust. Cleansweep is camping here too. We spend a few minutes chatting before I head to my tent for bed. 

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