Thursday, April 29, 2010

People Falling Out of the Sky and Other Unexpected Happenings

April 25: I woke up the next morning, my third day of hiking, and my feet felt worse than ever. Usually when my feet hurt at the end of the day, they undergo a miraculous recovery overnight and hurt a lot less. (The pain never goes away completely--I'm committed to sore feet for the next five to six months.) It was the blisters. Normal "wear and tear" pain goes away overnight. The blisters, not so much. They looked bigger and angrier than ever, and I finally popped one of them which made quite a mess. I'll call it Abigail. I just like that name. It's on the heel of my left foot.

The one that refuses to pop I'm calling Bastard. Just kidding.... I'm going to call it Bertha. Big Bertha. Of all my blisters, it may very well be the biggest one I've had in the past decade. It's an ugly looking thing. It's on the heel of my right foot.

Given all of the snow ahead on the trail and no incentive to rush ahead, I decided a short hike to near where the trail crosses I-8 at Boulder Oaks Rd was the way to go--a measly six miles.

Amanda drove me back to the Lake Morena Campground and dumped me off. It wasn't more than a few minutes before I ran into my first thru-hikers of the day. In the six miles, I'd run into lots more. Happy Feet, Big-e, Little Bit, Stumbling Norwegian (from Seattle!), "Willard" (not really her trail name, but it was a nickname from home that I started using after hearing it--she doesn't have an official trail name yet), Abby Normal (apparently taken from Young Frankenstein), and a lot of others whose names I didn't write down or remember. (I may have misspelled some of these trail names too--I only heard them, I didn't see how they spelled them.)

Everyone stopped for a break under the Cottonwood Bridge by a scenic stream where I chatted with most of the hikers. After introducing myself and explaning how I ended up with it because of my little rubber stamp, two of them asked if I had hiked the AT in 2003. "Well, yes, I did!" Turns out, they followed my register entries for hundreds of miles back then. I never met them, however, but they remembered that little rubber stamp I'd stamp into all of the shelter registers.

I showed them my new stamp (the original one I used on the AT was lost at a letterboxing gathering in Maine a couple of years back), and stamped it onto their maps. Others who weren't familiar with the stamp also wanted me to stamp their maps. It's funny--I carried that stamp on the entire Appalachian Trail, and I don't remember once anyone ever asking for me to stamp their stuff with it. Yesterday, the group I hiked with wanted the image, and now these people wanted the image. It seems to be quite popular, and the irony is that I've only used it once in an "official" sense so far--at the register at the beginning of the trail. There aren't shelters on the PCT, so registers are very rare compared with the AT. Yet, here, everyone seems to want an image of my stamp. I'm happy to oblige, though. =)

Today, I spotted my second snake of the hike. It looked like a non-venomous garter snake. But still, a snake is a snake, so I counted it. Snake count: 2.

Then, while walking along the trail with Big-e, another guy dropped in on us. Literally. He fell out of the sky! Well, it was a controlled fall, from a paraglider who came in for the landing. I was jealous. I want to do that, and it looked so friggin' cool! The paraglider told us he'd been up in the air for about an hour, rising as high as 9,000 feet until descending to our location at 3,000 feet above sea level.

Then, I passed the biggest milestone to date: At 26.5 miles from the border, I passed the 1% mark of the Pacific Crest Trail. Only 99% left to go!

The Cottonwood Creek was the first "dangerous" river crossing, requiring a delicate balancing act across a thin board laid across the creek. The water was a couple of feet deep--not dangerous, but certainly enough to get quite wet if one were to fall in. My guidebook describes this creek as being seasonal--it seemed shocking that a creek with this much water would dry up, but apparently it does. They did say that water is particularly plentiful this year, however, and I guess this is the proof.

I reached Boulder Oaks Road, but Amanda hadn't arrived yet so I laid out in the shade under a tree and make myself comfortable, checking e-mail and reading magazines until she arrived. Two hikers I spotted walking down the road I called out to, asking if they were looking for the trail. The trail crossed the road here, and followed parallel to it, but it appeared they had missed it. Yes, they were looking for the trail, and I pointed them to the other side of the road. They asked if I was sitting out there just to direct hikers like themselves. "No, just waiting for my girl. You're lucky she hasn't showed up yet!"

Eventually Amanda showed up, though, and whisked me away back to the motel. We passed through a border patrol stop, which seems to excite Amanda. I think it's the guys with guns, but Amanda finds the stops fascinating. There's a stop on I-8 we went through the day before, but we followed the frontage road back to the motel this time where signs warned of spike strips and seemed somewhat more sinister. We figured they must try to scare the bad dudes off of I-8 onto this smaller road, then nab them at this stop where it's not expected. (The photo is from the I-8 stop.)


Anonymous said...

Be careful with those snakes!

Lucy Locket

Anonymous said...

I so enjoy reading your entries so that I have started reading "Worldwalk" by S. Newman. I love the narratives. Wonderful reading. Thanks. I wonder what the snow will be like?
Good Luck, Jen

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Abigail and Bertha indicate the need for better fitting shoes! You have a long walk ahead of you. Don't think I'd want to walk a mile in shoes that rub so much.

Tread softly and safely!

Grinch of Grumpy Grinch

Anonymous said...

hope you are using body glide on your feet, its cured me of blisters. you can buy it at REI.

Anonymous said...

I don't like that you named one of them ABIGAIL as that is Baby Goofy's real name!

Goofy girl

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Tell us that you bought decent shoes, and that you aren't suffering from cheap shoe induced blisters.

Tell us that you know how to recognize a venomous snake.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the blisters.... ouch! I read today's paper before reading your 3 blogs (was offline for a week), and when I saw "people falling out of the sky" I thought somehow you had been where the Russian parachuter fell and died yesterday, due to a collapsed parachute. So sorry for him and his family/friends... so glad the guy who landed near you landed safely!


P.S. (Naming blisters alphabetically... good attitude!)

Anonymous said...

It took my brother a coupla thousand miles of hiking to figure out: The way to avoid blisters is to use the thinnest socks you can find! Thick socks allow the foot to move around inside the shoe, causing rubbing and hence blisters. Thin socks allow the shoe to be more securely bound to the foot, avoiding relative motion and hence avoiding blisters. Thin socks also dry quicker after wading through a creek!

-- Kirbert

Anonymous said...

and my favorite dog when I was a kid was also named I'm not so sure that is an appropriate name for a blister.....but I do love reading your narritives.

Ileen said...

Reading your post inspires me. I'm retired, always wanted to walk the PCT and never really have. I've plans for next winter to start in Campo. I love your posts. Keep it up.

kitkat in NC said...

You should have called the first one Achilles, then you could have said, this is my Achilles Heel.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should have asked Happy Feet why his feet were so "Happy".

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow. Only 15 DUIs? Looks like there was a bigger drug problem there than drinking and driving.

My daughter's favorite hen's name is Bertha.
I think Bertha would be clucking mad if she knew you named your blister after her. :D

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers