Saturday, May 1, 2010

El Señor de San Diego

April 26: Once again, Amanda dropped me off on the trail to fend for myself. She dropped me off at the Boulder Oaks Road crossing, and almost immediately I followed the trail under Interstate 8--my first Interstate crossing.

The trail started its long climb to Mount Laguna. It's not steep. The PCT is almost never steep--it's a horse trail, and the trail slowly goes up and down grades with long, lazy switchbacks. It's positively wonderful. So the trail climbed steadily upwards, but it wasn't especially difficult. The worst part wasn't the climb, but rather the lack of shade on the warm, sunny day.

I don't think I made it a mile before I saw him. A chubby, distinctly Mexican-looking guy resting in the shade. He had a small backpack that looked like a bag sold to tourists in Mexico. It was an illegal! It had to be! What do I do? What do I say? I hadn't really thought much about it. I kind of wanted to see an illegal because I had heard so much about them, and with all of the border patrols I've seen roaming the streets, the air, and such, I knew they had to be out there. Now I got to see one in the flesh.

They warn hikers that such folks could be dangerous. They may be short of water or food and want what you carry. Maybe they're smuggling drugs. Maybe they're criminals on the run. (Though admittedly, I've always heard them as stories--I've never actually heard of a specific incident of this happening.) So I waved and said hi, and he replied with a nod and a hello, and I kept hiking. I really wanted to get a picture of him, but what would he do? Most people who are traveling around illegally don't seem like they'd want a bunch of photos of them flowing around, after all. I wanted to ask how he crossed the border, or even when he crossed it and where he was headed. But I said nothing more than, "Hi," and continued on. Those seemed like dangerous questions to ask.

Several minutes later, I passed a group of three day hikers heading southbound. They have dreams to section hike the entire PCT, and maybe they will, but for now, they were just enjoying this small piece of the trail and asked me about my trip. The guy in the group asked if he could take my photo, and I obliged. While chatting, the illegal immigrant came up the trail behind me, ready to pass us, and the guy asked the illegal if he could get a photo of him too. "Sure," he said, and him and one of the girls posed next to each other as the photo was taken. I wanted to whip out my camera and get my own photos, but it was over before I had a chance. Drats! The guy asked where he was from. "San Diego." Nice.

The illegal continued on the trail, and the guy said something like, "I finally saw an illegal, and I got a photo of him!" I asked if he'd send me a copy of the photo since I wanted one too, and he took down my e-mail address. *fingers crossed*

"Said he was from San Diego," the man said, shaking his head. "I'm not the border patrol. I don't want to pick grapes. My son doesn't want to pick grapes. If he wants to pick grapes, let him." Yeah, I'm not big on picking grapes myself.

While chatting with the group of three people, another hiker went past in my direction, a young girl, but we were too wrapped up talking about illegal immigrants to say much of anything except hello.

I finally continued my own hike, keeping an eye out for the illegal who I knew was now ahead of me. If I saw him again, maybe I'd ask for a photo this time. He seemed friendly.

A few minutes later, a side trail went off a short ways towards a viewpoint, and I wondered if I should check it for the illegal or if he was still hiking on the trail. Hmm.... Not sure. I didn't see him on the side trail, but there were some large rocks he could have been hidden behind while trying to catch some shade. I knew the illegal had rested not far back, and it didn't seem likely he'd need another rest so soon, so it seemed unlikely. And my feet were still sore from the hike two days before. Screw it! Adelante! Siempre adelante! Forward! Always forward!

I didn't see the illegal, but I did see the girl who passed us sitting in a small patch of shade looking at her guidebook and resting. I asked if she knew where the illegal was--did he pass her? No, he hadn't, so that meant he was now behind me. Probably on the side path I had seen. Oh, well....

The girl's name was Motor. I helped her find where she was on the map--somehow, she went under I-8 and didn't even realize it. I joked about, "And you're trying to find your way to Canada? Hmm....." I failed to mention that I actually got lost--briefly--less than two miles from the beginning. At least she was still on the correct trail. =)

We fell into hiking the rest of the afternoon together. We wanted to stop for lunch in a shady location, but shade became more scarce than ever, and we bumbled along for a couple of miles before giving up and crawling into a couple of crevices in a rock. "You do realize," I said, "as soon as we stop, there will be the perfect shady place around the next turn in the trail." But we stopped.

I think she had the better crevice, though. My little patch of shade kept growing smaller and smaller while hers never seemed to do so. It was a strange conversation too since we couldn't even see each other when we were both tucked in our respective crevices. She was just the voice from the rock.

Lunch over, we continued on, and yes, we found much better shady spaces to stop a short distance down the trail. Drats. Oh, well....

Now let me tell you a little something about land sharks. They are, as its name would suggest, land-based "sharks." Scary creatures, roaming the mountains, lurking and waiting to take a bite out of the local hiking population. That's about all I know about them, however, because they don't really exist. Motor told me that she wasn't especially fond of water after her mom scared her with stories of "lake sharks" as a child. Later, she was bitten by some sort of bug, calling it a few choice words, and I jokingly told her that it was a "land shark."

But I really like that term. I want to apply it to something. I'm not sure what, though. Should I apply it to a real creature out here? Bears? Mountain lions? Those blood-sucking mosquitoes certainly take their pint of blood, but they seem to small and not scary enough to deserve such a cool term as 'land shark.' Or maybe it should be a mythical creature in the woods that I invent out of my head. Most people haven't seen sharks in the wild, after all, so there's a certain mythology to them. Why not invent something for the land shark? I'm not sure how I'll use it yet, but I have plenty of time to think about it. =) Suggestions are welcome!

We passed a few other hikers making use of some of the shade, then stopped for another rest at Fred Canyon Road where our paths would split. I planned to hike down to Cibbets Flat Campground where Amanda was scheduled to pick me up while Motor would continue further along the trail. The area by the road had signs installed warning of unexploded military ordinance. Of all the dangers one faces on the Pacific Crest Trail, that was one that never crossed my mind. As long as we stayed on established trails and roads, however, we'd be fine. At least that's what the sign claimed. =)

I arrived at the campground and barely sat down before Amanda drove up. The timing was impeccable! Then we drove up to Mount Laguna, where I intended to hike the next day, to scout the area and figure out where she'd be picking me up at. Small patches of snow still dotted the area, but best of all, there were TREES! Lots and lots of trees! I'm looking forward to the readily available shade by the trees. Amanda explored the gift shop, we took a few pictures, then drove back into Pine Valley where we stopped for dinner.


Okie Dog said...

Cute pic of Amanda.

Anonymous said...

You might be a little late on coining "land shark." Jimmy Buffet beat you to it several years ago. :) There's even a LandShark Lager - which you might know about if you would ever give up drinking milkshakes!

Happy Trails to you,

Lemon Drop (Carianna of the GG)

BJ_Mama said...

I say go with naming your own "Land Shark" creature...I'm already a little petrified of it, and I don't even knwo what it is yet.

Danny said...

Wasn't there a Saturday Night Live skit with a Landshark back in the old Chevy Chase days?

idlemoon said...

In the veterinary medicine world we call any vicious little dog a "land shark" We even have a red dachshund that comes in who's real name is "Jaws"

Anonymous said...

I feel a little weird posting a comment, since I'm a totally random stranger. But I obsess about the PCT and read all sorts of journals each year as people make their treks. I just had to post and say how much I enjoy your writing, and your sense of humor. Your is one of my favorite journals this year. Good luck to you on the trail, getting a picture of an illegal, and naming your land shark. :)

Romana said...

There were land sharks in one of the stories in The Seven Deadly Sins of cience Fiction, I believe the story was named something likt "The Hook, the Eye, and the Whip", but I'm not certain on that, or of the author's name. The principal editor of the anthology was Isaac Asimov. Those land sharks were actually biogenetically engineered sharks who could live on land, pulled themselves along with their fins, breathed air, and were carted around on leashes by their owners...unless they bit the owners and got away...

Good story. I'm waiting to see what you come up with as a land shark...use your imagination on this one, you've got a good healthy one!


Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

Yes Danny, Land Shark is an old SNL skit:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

How funny to see signs telling people to behave themselves around snow. Only in California!

Would be funny if Motor's new trail name became "The Voice of the Rock" :D

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers