My Heart is Pulled in So Many Directions
Harpo and Groucho don't believe I'll go home when I tell them I'm thinking about it. For good reason. I've already left and come back twice now. But they say goodbye anyway and leave gifts in my car when Huck takes it to drop them off at the trailhead. Then we drive into San Bernardino to retrieve Twinless from her time away at a wedding and the three of us spend another cozy evening in town. In the morning, Twinless hits the trail and all the hikers are hiking except Huck and me.
We get the room for another night and I make immense progress sitting on the bed of our mountain motel. New flashcards pile up beside me, one after the other. Huck stares at his phone for hours on end with the attention span of a scholar. This is what a true zero should be like, he says. In the evening, it starts to rain and hail. Our friends are huddled and shivering under their tarps in the desert while we are merely inconvenienced by the fact that the patter on the roof makes it harder for us to hear the movie we're watching.
Three days in Idyllwild leave me feeling slightly more grounded and I realize that Harpo and Groucho were right, I can't leave yet. But one thing is for sure, I'm not setting foot in another coffee shop. I hatch up all kinds of plans, mostly involving leaving my car and hitchhiking to some place where I can hike to the border with Sprout and maybe meet up with my friends again. But my friends aren't even together. One is here, the others are there. What's a girl to do?
I pack my bag with 4 days of food, not knowing exactly where I'll hike, but knowing it's going to happen. Huck agrees that we're in this together and we start a hitchhiking/hiking adventure. Sprout is put on a sled dog schedule, as per Huck's recommendations - hiking hard for 5 hours in the morning, resting for 4 hours in the afternoon, and then 5 more hours of walking in the evening. He gets fish powder in his kibble and tuna packets as supplements, eats right away when the day is done and then curls right up to go to sleep. Ready again for the next day. His muscles begin to bulge. He is a walking machine.
Meanwhile, Huck and I are on our own without the group which feels both strange and comfortable at the same time. Like Sprout, constantly looking back on the trail to make sure everyone is together, I find myself just waiting to see Harpo, Groucho, Twinless or Future Dad around the next bend. But alas, I see no one. At the end of the day we reach Barrel Springs where I remember sitting with Mud last year, drinking water in the heat. My heart is pulled in so many directions.
"Are you good?" Huck asks, when I'm unable to even participate in a conversation about tomorrow. Luckily, I have a little whiskey left in a plastic bottle in my pack. So yeah, I'm good.. I tell him.
In the morning we walk 8 miles to a road and have to hitch back to the car to get more dog food, as we miscalculated how much Sprout would eat. Huck activates his crystal, which gives us positive hitching-vibes every time. We're picked up by a nervous man pulling a trailer with his giant pick-up truck. The man realizes he's driving the wrong direction after we've been in the car only a few minutes and is unsure what to do. Huck convinces him not to turn around, but rather, take an alternate route. Luckily, the alternate route takes us exactly where we need to go.
"Where do you think the others are?" Huck asks once we're back at the car.
"You want to join them?!" I reply excitedly.
"I just wanted to see how you'd react..." Huck says. He knows I want us all together, and he's about to give in... I can tell.
"They're probably getting to Mount Laguna tomorrow. We could go there..."
"Okay, let's go."
And just like that, we're off to find the gang!
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Other Neat Things:
My friends Harpo and Groucho are some bad-ass thru-hiking vegans. Read their blog here.
Idyllwild is a favorite trail town for many PCT hikers. This online magazine has featured a few hikers and also keeps up with mountain-town happenings.
Future Dad is thru-hiking the Pacific Crest, Te Aurora and Appalachian Trails back-to-back-to-back, all in one year! He's also a really awesome story teller. Read his stories here.