Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day 47 : Zero In Independence

0 miles today
1882 miles to go

My phone starts buzzing on the bed next to me. Huh? Where am I? It's around sixish am, it's Mark, my son-in-law. I stumble out of my bunk and pad through the quote hostel filled with sleeping thru-hikers and outside. “Hello?” The phone’s screen says “Missed Call.” I text Mark, ‘sorry I missed your call.’ I go inside and my phone rings again, this time I make it in time. “Hello?” “I'm here.” Kelli had coordinated with Mark to drive five hours to me to deliver my desperately needed Aqua Mira. I have an awesome wife and family. Thank you all for your love and support.

Mark and I head down to Lone Pine where I believe they have restaurants that serve breakfast. Sixteen miles sixteen minutes, automobiles are amazing machines. We catch up on the ride. Six sixteen, Lone Pine, the only place open is a local coffee shop. I was hoping for a more substantial breakfast. I ask about breakfast places. The barista says there’s an awesome breakfast place but it doesn't open till seven. We order coffee and sit in the coffee shop talking for forty or so minutes. Time passes quickly when you're ready enjoying yourself. Billy and Kitkat come in while we're sitting there. I introduce Mark. He's from a different planet, a place where people don't wear  Dirty Girl Gaiters over their shoes. We Thru-hikers live in an alternate universe where answers to questions like “what day is it?” aren't important unless you're trying to get your resupply box out of the Post Office. They were kind and gracious but quickly retreated to the Thru-hiker section where more important questions like, “when does the food coop open?” are discussed and answered. 

Seven am, Mark and I head over to the restaurant. The waitress is very efficient. Hungry Thru-hikers pushing thru the open door of a restaurant resemble a pack of killer whales pursuing a seal. There is a methodical tenacity in their pursuit of calories. The waitress efficiently directs us to our tables, distributes menus, collects our orders, and starts delivering food in copious quantities. Forestalling a Thru-hiker takeover of the pastry display case, filled with pies, cinnamon rolls, and all things pastry. I eat til I'm stuffed, then I eat the rest of the food on my plate. Mark eats about half his plate, digging through the carcass of his omelet for the last few nuggets of steak. During this feeding frenzy other thru-hikers arrive like sharks when there’s blood in the water. Mark got to witness first hand the hunter killer instincts of a full bore thru-hiker appetite.

After breakfast we head back to the hostel where many of the Thru-hikers had already vacated their bunks and were instead standing on the corner attempting to hitch a ride back to the trailhead. Somehow they all eventually get there. I have more money than time and choose a more calculated route, negotiating a six am ride with the proprietor’s son for tomorrow.

Mark, being a newly minted M.D. Has a much deeper understanding of all things chemical than I. He explains to me the active ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol. Somehow I might have ‘known’ that in a cursory way. But when I told him I was almost out of hand sanitizer he suggested that I use stove fuel. Brilliant! Thru-hikers love when we can get multiple uses from a single item in our packs. I introduce Mark to Jean, from France who was hoping to get to Bishop today. Mark graciously offered him a trip, “One way!” Emphasizing to Jean that he’ll have to find a different ride back demonstrating Mark’s lack of understanding of the Thru-hiker mentality. To Thru-hikers, all trips are ‘one way’ unless specifically specified. Jean only expected a one-way trip. I was able to off load to Mark some of the stuff I've been carrying but haven't used till now. Thanks again Mark for your visit, I enjoyed our time together. The usefulness and utility you brought to my zero day are immeasurable.

I talk to the motel management and upgrade to a private room. “Sure, no problem.” I sit in the hostel room updating my posts and pictures until they come and tell me my room is ready. Woo hoo, my own space! I transfer my stuff in about four armloads. How is all of this going to fit back into my pack? Pathfinder, Braveheart and I head over to Subway and buy sandwiches. Braveheart and Pathfinder are planning on leaving this afternoon. They ask me to come, I decline. HYOH (Hike Your Own Hike), it's tempting to change my own plans to accommodate the desires of others. I have come to believe that unless it is really something I want too I would be compromising my dreams to live someone else's dream.

My afternoon is filled with food sorting and packing. I take one of my old, empty Aqua Mira bottles and convert it into a chlorine container. Then I ask the motel manager for a little bleach to add to it. Now I have a backup way to sanitize water that is a little more reliable. I fit all of my food into my pack. I load all my gear too. I carefully check everything for wear and tear. I call ahead to the shoe store in Mammoth Lakes and confirm that they have the shoes I want. Mine are looking a bit frayed around the edges and I anticipate having to buy new ones in another hundred twenty miles. I eat cookies that Mark brought from home, I eat Cool Ranch Doritos. I thoroughly enjoy my zero day. Filled with rest and relaxation. I walk back over to the taco truck for dinner. On the way I see Conner and Emma at the Subway. I chat briefly with them and then move on to dinner. A carne asada burrito is what's for dinner. I sit in the garage with the other Thru-hikers. A few are still here from last night, a few are new. Most of last night's crowd have moved on. Most of them went to Bishop, the rest are back on the trail. I head back to my room and post a video to YouTube:

 then I I get to bed early. My ride to the trailhead is at six am tomorrow morning.

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