Day 29- What’s in a name

I woke up around 6am to the smell of coffee and the sound of Gryllz and Jeff conversing in the living room. One of Jeff’s dogs had pushed open our door and was snooping around, and Annabelle the pony was pacing in her pen outside the window. I laid here for a few moments, trying to truly take all of this in- to fully understand and appreciate this generosity and the idea of trail magic and angeling in its own right, while also recognizing how lucky we all are to be on this adventure and on the receiving end of this generosity.

I dragged myself out of bed, got some coffee and curled up on the couch. There are bird feeders on Jeff’s porch, so I relaxed with my coffee under a blanket, listened to Grillz and Jeff talk and admired the Stellar’s Jays and hummingbirds as they flitted to and from the feeders. Jeff took us outside at one point and showed us the Jay’s nest, full of big fluffy chicks.

PITA came out and started playing with the dogs and Splash came out just to turn around and go back to bed. This relaxing morning was exactly what we have been needing. Eventually we all got ourselves put together and packed up so Jeff could take us back to town. He dropped us off at the hardware store and we thanked him profusely for all that he’d done.

We ran around a bit chaotically, trying to figure out what we needed to do. We dropped our packs off at the hardware store, where there were already a good number of hikers and abandoned packs. I started to write a letter and a hiker I hadn’t spoken to before (“Smoothie”) suggested that my trail name could be “Scribe”. Initially I didn’t like it, but I think that is because I had figured my trail name would come from someone I had been hiking with and have some thought put into it. I dismissed it and we decided to get breakfast at the same place we had gotten dinner last night, Evergreen Cafe.

While we forced as many calories into our deprived bodies as possible in the form of heavily sugared coffee, orange juice, pancakes and a variety of other breakfast foods, I thought about “Scribe”. It actually does fit, considering I spend a good 45 minutes each day documenting my journey for this blog while also writing deeper thoughts in a journal and writing letters, cards, and postcards to friends and family. The portions were generous and we all somehow left food on our plates which we figured we would regret later.

On our way back to the hardware store, I saw Julia/Songbird sitting outside of the grocery store so we caught up for a few minutes. She is feeling strong and doing big miles so she will pass us really soon and probably be gone at least until the Sierras. I caught up with the others back at the hardware store and as we were leaving, I weighed my pack. There were a bunch of “ultralighers” there, talking about their super light packs and how they were sending their tents, rain gear and stoves home to cut weight. It was really stressing us all out. With 2 liters of water and a full 6 days of food (13 lbs of food according to Jeff’s bathroom scale), my full pack weighed in at 38 lbs. OOF. I have to carry that up a mountain today.

We stood outside, put out our thumbs and a guy in a pickup truck pulled up almost immediately. We piled into the bed of the truck for the cold, windy ride back up to Inspiration Point, where some ladies were doing trail magic in the parking lot. Grylls grabbed clementines for all of us (and carried them all himself) and PITA and Splash grabbed some candy as well. I wasn’t about to add a single ounce to my beast of a pack. We saw two hikers who were about to head into town and told them all that we could before strapping on our fully loaded packs and beginning our steep uphill journey.

Immediately out of the parking area we were all complaining about our heavy packs and the climb, but soon the trail leveled out and then began to drop through some beautiful pine forest and then began a very steep descent through groves of different trees that created beautiful patterns on sunlight on the rocky trail. It finally dumped us out at another parking area where we regrouped and took a snack break. From here on out it would be uphill, and pretty steep as well. We met Robert and Captain Hook, and I tried out introducing myself as Scribe. Not so bad, although strange to introduce yourself as something other than your given name. We chatted briefly before beginning our ascent toward Mt Baden-Powell.

We had barely left the parking lot when we encountered PCTA volunteers working on the trail. They were using shovels, hoes and other hand tools to break up the dirt and rock and create rain bars, helping to stabilize the trail and reduce erosion. This is hard manual labor and we stopped to chat with these amazing people for a few minutes and get a picture. Without their generosity and hard work, we wouldn’t have a trail to hike on, let alone one that is (in general) so well marked and maintained.

We trudged uphill, huffing and puffing. We passed each other as we pulled off to catch our breath. We continued an awkward rotation and PITA suggested that I could also take the name “Trudgemaster Supreme”, which made me laugh pretty hard and lightened our mood, if not our packs. We found a spring and filled our bottles, adding to our already-hefty loads. The next water wasn’t for another 6 miles including a mountain summit and we planned to dry camp (camp away from a water source) so we needed to carry a good amount.

I kept on trudging, just focused on putting one foot in front of the other as I trailed along behind the others. Suddenly the others had stopped and someone said “We’ve got three votes for camping here, you in?” Well I guess I don’t have much choice, but yes, please let me put down this beast, shove food in my face and bundle up in my tent.

This turned out to be a perfect spot, with a number of flat spots and a lovely view. The four of us cooked and ate dinner together, sharing snacks and recipes. I mixed cornmeal, spring vegetable dip mix and salted almonds together which was a huge, wonderful meal. PITA and I then sat on a log and journaled together whike watching the sun descend into the clouds and the rain move into the valley below. We will probably get rain up here as well at some point, just hopefully not while we’re trying to hike.

We plan on getting up super early and summiting for the sunrise, which means being on trail by around 3:30am and hiking on the snow in the dark. Sounds like an adventure! I guess I should stop writing and get to sleep.

Miles: 6

Trail magic: 1

Hiked with: Gryllz, PITA, Splash

Camped with: Gryllz, PITA, Splash

4 comments

  1. Amazing views! I think you’re in the groove! In more ways than one, so many hikers following nothing but a cow-path…..If you continue to carry 38 pound backpacks, you may get the Trail Name, Ox or Mule!! Stay tough!

    Liked by 2 people

    • What’s a good backpack weight for a thru-hike?
      My only hiking trip included a 50lb backpack, so I was amazed at Gretchen’s 38!
      Funny to realize though that that’d be a recipe for disaster on a trek like this 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is a huge range of pack weights out here. Generally it is measured by “base weight”, the weight of all of your gear except consumables (no food, water or fuel). My base weight is about 15lbs. One of my hiking companions’ base weights is about 7lbs and I’ve met people with up to 40lbs. The old standard was no more than 25% of your body weight fully loaded, but when you’re carrying it so far, you want it to be as light as possible. There is a delicate balance between weight, functionality, quality and cost when choosing gear and there are lots of options out there depending on what you’re going for. Every item brought on a thru hike should be evaluated by asking “Will this help me get to Canada?” and if not, it fails. If your pack is heavy then it could slow you down or even cause injuries so that definitely won’t help you get to Canada either. The “ultralight” backpackers (like my buddy) are often cold, wet, and/or hungry, but tend to move faster and have less injuries. Everyone is different out here!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. AHHHHH!!!! There are so many cool details in this entry! Thoughts on generosity, a mountain named after the incidental founder of the boy scouts, trail maintenance and rain at a distance!! Oh that takes me back 😁
    I think Scribe is a name you can take pride in. Something that was so obvious and consistent that it took someone who wasn’t used to you to point it out.

    Liked by 2 people

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