Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Name Blisters and Other Important Topics

I woke up this morning to the sound of bagpipes. I'm not sure who was playing them or what the occasion was, but I rather liked it. I finished the Appalachian Trail to the sound of bagpipes, so it seemed appropriate to start the Pacific Crest Trail to the sound of bagpipes.

Mom cooked bacon and eggs for me, saying she wanted to fatten me up. Like a pig to the slaughter? Hmm..... But it's true--I'll lose about 20% of my body weight on this hike. Packing on a couple of extra pounds certainly won't hurt anything.

Then she drove me down to Highway 94 where I stopped the day before. This time, I wouldn't be slackpacking. My mom was leaving, but Amanda was expected to arrive later that afternoon. Between my mom's departure and Amanda's arrival, I had no day pack to hike with, or even a convenient place to store stuff I didn't want to carry, so I decided just to carry it all back to the Lake Morena Campground.

I met a group of several day hikers--six of them (Bobbie, Brenda, Clark, Michelle, Patricia, and....? Glad they didn't test me!)--who happened to be crossing at Highway 94 just as I was getting started and I fell into hiking with them for the rest of the day, which was an absolute blast. I told them about naming my blisters, and they asked if I named them like hurricanes, starting with the letter A and going alphabetically. "No, I hadn't done that, but I like that idea!" What would my first blister be called? Hmm.... Abigail? I like that name. I'd call it Amanda, but it seemed wrong to call a major pain in my foot after my girl. That could be taken the wrong way. (Later, Amanda would suggest Agnes, since it sounds a lot like Agony.)

I haven't developed a full list of names, yet, but I do like the alphabetical idea, so that's what I'll be doing for this trip.

We also spotted a rattlesnake on the trail--my first for the hike, and Brenda said that I needed to count them. "Should I name them too?" She said that wasn't necessary, but I decided to name the first rattlesnake Charlie. I don't intend to name anymore snakes I see, though. Charlie is special, a lazy snake, basking on the trail, and slowly moved off the trail into some bushes nonchalantly. Yes, nonchalantly. I didn't know snakes could be nonchalant either!

This photo of the backpack that reads, "Lost 30 days, heading west -- Footloose Tom" might need some explanation. I don't really have one, though. We found it, apparently abandoned, on the side of the trail. Below it, it says, "Don't eat the tuna!" Words to live by.

The photo below it is Brenda, Clark, and.... (sorry if you're reading this!), I forget the last guy's name. He hiked pretty fast and I didn't see him much except when he stopped for the rest of us to catch up. (I'd have probably forgotten Clark's name had he not mentioned "Clark, like Clark Kent.")

About halfway into the hike, my feet started getting sore and I had a couple of hot spots that needed to be dealt with, so I stopped to put on some moleskin. And it turns out, I already had two budding blisters! They didn't feel like blisters--just hot spots--and I poked at it with the sharp end of my safety pin but couldn't seem to pop those things. Those blisters seemed to be pretty deep under my skin. I finally gave up. Maybe after the blister got a little larger, it would be easier to pop.

At that point, my hiking slowed down considerably. The weight of the pack was taking its toll, and I dragged at the back of the pack with Brenda and Patricia who, bless their hearts, kept stopping to look for geocaches while I mostly sat around watching them and pointing, "Maybe over there." Even then, I still felt like I was probably slowing them down. And these people started the trail 2.2 miles before I did! However, in my defense, I did have a much heavier backpack than anything they carried.

I was a little disappointed that after 21 miles of hiking, I hadn't seen a single illegal alien. (At least nobody who appeared to be one.) From the stories I heard, it sounded like they were a dime a dozen. I didn't see any, but this sign in Spanish appears to be directed at them. It reads, "Caution! Do not expose your life to the elements. It's not worth it! (There's also no potable water.)" Strangely, that's exactly what we were doing. Hmm....

After 18.8 miles, I tromped back into the Lake Morena Campground, where I found Amanda waiting for me by the ranger station. Such a beautiful face in the sea of people. She told me about having 'false positives' while trying to find me. "Everyone here is shaved, wearing floppy hats, and looks like you!" she told me.

I dropped my pack in the vehicle, glad to finally be rid of it, then Amanda and I walked--okay, I hobbled--to where dinner was being served to see if I had made it in time. Dinner was served at 5:00, but it was now 6:00, and I feared I'd have to fend for myself for dinner.

They were already closing up the dinner tables, but I managed to snag some leftovers including a cheeseburger, brownies, potato salad, and a couple of sports drinks. We walked back to where my new hiking buddies were gathered so I could introduce Amanda (they knew all about her, already!)

I felt incredibly hungry, then found myself barely picking at the food. My stomach seemed to have shrunk to half its normal size, and I never did finish all of the food I took. Most of it, but not all of it.

This guy, with his tower of beer cans duct-taped together, seemed to be enjoying himself. The top can in the column actually does have beer in it, and when he's finished drinking it, tapes another full beer can on the top, so his 'hiking staff' gets longer and longer throughout the weekend. Those silly little hikers....

As for my two blisters, I'd sleep overnight on it and start thinking of names. After I finished eating what I could, we walked back to the car (okay, I hobbled back), then Amanda drove us off to a motel. She didn't have any camping gear to spend the night at the campground, so we'd use a motel instead. Which also had wi-fi access to boot. Woo-who!


Okie Dog said...

GG's daughter's name is Abigail. Ewww, don't call a blister that!I'm glad you're in the A's and not the O's. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I can pretty much guess what he will call it when he gets to the "W"s. Of course, that is a LOT of blisters...


Anonymous said...

Hopefully if you get to the letter "W", it won't be as big a pain (in the foot) as the other "W" we all know and love!

Wow Wassa... you put yourself wide open on that one!

Happy Hiking Ryan,

Anonymous said...

Are you going to alternate between boy and girl names?
If you are...I'd like to offer "Brad" as the name of the second blister. (It's my ex-husband's name!)

scraphappy said...

Happy to hear you're in my neck of the woods...maybe you'll be my first finder for my boxs at Apache Peak, near Idyllwild and right on the PCT! :) I still have blister from two weeks ago...my whole entire big toe. It's pretty impressive. I shoulda named it, too! Good luck out there-I've been seeing lots and lots of rattlesnakes on the trail too- it's their coming out of hibernation month and San Diego county seems to have more than our fair share of them. Looking forward to sharing in your journey via your blog! Will be doing Whitney in July so maybe we'll see you out on the trail during our training hikes! Happy Trails! Scraphappy.