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Mike "Driver" Rumsey
City: Los Angeles
Begins: Apr 16, 2014
Date: Tue, Apr 22nd, 2014
Start: 77.0 Scissors Crossing
End: 88.2 Second Gate
Daily Distance: 11.2
Trip Distance: 88.2
Entry Visits: 1,234
Journal Visits: 5,437
Guestbook Views: 314
Guestbook Entrys: 7
Quittin' and Flappin'
The next morning I was awake with first light and made myself some coffee. After a brief fight over who got to use the solitary pencil, I set out to the bird watching store next door. Who would have figured that we'd need two? As I browsed through the shelves I chuckled slightly to myself. Julian seemed to be a town that was full of everything baby boomers love and this shop was no different. Cutesy bird decorations, bird feeders, pictures of birds and a solitary corner dedicated to actual books about birding. The coolest part of the store was the cat who wondered around although he didn't seem to care to be petted. The clerk didn't have any pencils for sale but handed me a free golf pencil with the name of the store on it. I found a magnetic cardboard bookmark with a barn owl photograph and bought it for Natalia in honor of her new trail name.
I grabbed a cup of coffee from the room and began working on my journal for a while. When it was almost time for the lodge's continental breakfast to be ready I headed back to the room and got Natalia. Sweet Spot joined us later and we happily ate double whatever a normal person could expect to eat for breakfast. The Julian Lodge must be used to it by now.
Sweet Spot was planning on head out around 1 PM back towards the trail since that was the last trip Mike was taking that afternoon. She had been talking off and on about quitting starting with Chariot Canyon, then a bit on our way to Scissors Crossing and now over breakfast. We encouraged her to continue on - after all she was just getting her hiker legs and she had done the longest day of her life yesterday.
At 1 PM we saw the last of Sweet Spot. She paid us back for the dinner the night before and told us that she was catching a shuttle out to San Diego to fly home. We said our hasty goodbyes and she hopped into the car with Mike and Sage Girl and then disappeared down the road.
Why did Sweet Spot quit? was the first question out of Natalia's mouth. The best I could figure was that she focused on the parts of the trail that she disliked: the heat, the desert and the family she missed back home. Negative feelings out here have all day long to fester and if your mind is dwelling on quitting all day, you'll eventually do it.
That's what worried me the most about Natalia. She was already talking about quitting. As the sign at PCT Kickoff had read:
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Where her words a sign of things to come or merely a reflection of her mood at the moment? Impossible to tell.
We ducked into Mom's in Julian and were treated to a free hiker meal, even including pie. I'm pretty sure Mom's just won a customer for life. With bellies full, we shouldered our packs and walked just outside of town. Along the highway we met another hiker trying to hitch out as well. The first car that actually stopped only had room for one, so we sent him in that car. After about 15 minutes in total of waiting, a car stopped and let us in. The driver was a young Japanese man doing a California vacation complete with a surfboard in the front seat. His English as slightly broken but we were able to tell him about our hike. We hopped out at Scissors Crossing, gave him some money for gas and hiked down to below the bridge. There we met Tinkerbell and her boyfriend? although I can't recall his name for the life of me. They were both hiking with plastic lawn flamingos. Natalia immediately bursts out with "What's up with the flamingos?" "What's not up with the flamingos is more like it." was Tinkerbell's hilarious response. "They've got a job interview in Canada in 5 months" said her boyfriend. Well I guess we both supposed he was her boyfriend but the situation seemed ill-defined and slightly fluid. In any event, they were both carrying bear canisters and typically sleeping in a tiny one person tent with their flamingos posted outside for mountain lion protection. The both of them were great to hang out with and we saw them a few more times over the day.
We stayed cool under the shade of the concrete overpass until 4 PM and hiked out. It was slightly overcast and windy, which made the switchbacks and six liters of water on our backs more tolerable. We moved slowly and took breaks but made great progress. By the time the sun had set, we had made it about 9 miles up to the second gate.
The flamingos and others found a camping spot, but we pressed on a bit further looking for a site with better wind protection. We were forced to settle for a site just below the ridgeline that was slightly better than the others. Natalia had been worried about a line of clouds we had been seeing all day across the valley from us, so we decided to put up the tarp shelter that we had bought last year for the first time on our trip.
It was a huge mistake. The sand was a bit soft for the stakes and we had trouble with the tarp flapping in the wind and pulled stakes. I repeatedly went outside to tighten up the tarp, but a shape with flat edges just wasn't doing well in the wind. I managed to step on a piece of buried Cholla cactus that luckily enough was fairly easy to remove from my foot. Up on the ridge above us I found a pile of rocks that I ferried across the minefield of cactus in my flip-flops. It was to no avail - the wind was even starting to tear seams on our tarp shelter and the flapping would not stop. After one of the guy lines to a trekking pole support pulled it's stake and the pole hit Natalia in the eye, we were done. The tarp shelter went back into it's stuff sack, guy lines and all.
The rest of the night went a lot better. The wind howled and on occasion gave our quilt a slight tug, but for the most part we slept warmly and comfortably.
Drag Me Into The Wild
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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