And so begins the nomadic/homeless bum/hiker trash life.
Sprout and I sleep in my car while the others nestle up on their sleeping pads by the side of the road. The next day is my first real study day. I spend it at the Anderson's Casa de Luna hiker home, taking notes on flash cards, sitting under a tarp as the desert rain patters above my head. I even submit a job application here. I look as professional as a pika on paper, but in reality I haven't showered in a while, have been wearing the same shirt for 32 days and have gaping holes in my shoes. I'm becoming a pro at blending dietetic life with hiking life. Last year I submitted my internship application from a coffee shop in South Lake Tahoe. And that turned out well. Mostly.
And now every day is an adventure. But it usually involves the same three things: drive, study, hike. I find a new coffee shop in a different town daily and spend at least three hours making flash cards for the RD exam. This involves fascinating topics such as the most appropriate cooking method for a tender cut of beef. Oh, and by the way, what is a tender cut of beef? Briscuit or Loin? And how many inches long should the main aisle be in an industrial kitchen? And would the floors be made of ceramic or clay tiles? How many teaspoons in a #12 size ice cream scoop? Oh right, and about nutrition... how many carbohydrate exchanges are in one bagel, two teaspoons of cream cheese, an ounce of strawberry jelly and a cup of tea? Important things for a dietitian to know.
Meanwhile, I am constantly interrupted by awestruck dog lovers who just want to say hello to Sprout as he sunbathes. Also, they want to know how old he is. And what breed is he? Actually, they just want to tell me what breed they think he is. And then tell me all about their pups at home. And one lady even sneeks up behind me to take his picture while he sleeps. It's really hard, having such a handsome dog. When this all becomes too much I retreat to the mountains.
Sprout and I walk north on the PCT for about an hour every evening until we see our friends. I watch for their footprints to make sure they're not ahead and Sprout peers hopefully around every new switchback. At last we start to hear footsteps or talking. He greets them with abundant love and a wrinkled up smile, sometimes doing a celebratory sprint around the perimeter of the group.
"I think Sprout's getting the wrong idea about the trail... that friends just show up out of nowhere all the time." Says Huck.
Is that really the wrong idea?
Then we turn around to hike south with the group. Sometimes I bring them pizza or guacamole and we all have a picnic in the dirt next to the car. And sometimes Huck offers to drive so that I can hike all day. These are the best of days, as I can both play the flash card game with my friends (being productive) and relax into nature (being happy).
At the day's end and I'm curled up cozy in my sleeping bag, watching shooting stars crest the desert sky.
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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.