I just want to start off by saying my last post title was a joke. I didn't even know the half of blister pain back then. Since the last time I blogged a lot has happened so I'll do my best to cover as much of it as I can. Also, I'm trying to put photos on instagram as much as I can and then just some random ones here so, these will be pretty random.
**Also I met the only girl who has through hiked via horses and I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Holy Cow. It was amazing.
Okay - now back to serious business. Chips and I left Idyllwild in the morning and charged uphill for a while, my ankle was well rested and I was feeling strong. Up and up and up we climbed until we were above the clouds where we stopped to have a snack. The rest of the trail family (which consists of a group of about 10ish and is now called the tramily) had started the afternoon before with hopes of summiting San Jacinto, and we figured were well ahead of us. As we sat there snacking momma bear (one of the sweetest most nurturing ladies I was lucky enough to start with on day one) turned the corner and snacked with us. So crazy how the trail works out like that, you think someone's way ahead of you then bam! They turn the corner and end up stuffing cheese in their face with you! The rest of the day was just walking, soaking in views and as we started a 6500 ft decent we walked through some clouds -aka garbage weather. At camp, we did our best to be sheltered from the wind but there wasn't much relief. The three of us set up 2 tents, and right as we started eating cold dinner, shake'n'bake and fun size rolled up looking exhausted, so we lent them momma bears tent and she snuggled with chips and I! The wind was so bad we snapped a few lines on big bird (chips' lovely huge palace of a tent) but fortunately we had an ice axe and got creative with it.
After a pretty garbage night of sleep we were up and out the next day, and decended the entire day. Down down down, with music to make it less painful. We got some trail magic while passing under a highway then pushed onward another mile to a trail angels house called Ziggy and the Bears. Ziggy was out when we arrived but man their place is a little hiker Mecca, and they've been helping hikers for over 20 years now. The Bear (keep in mind both ziggy and the bear are both in their 80s) signed us in and took our mug shot, then let us relax for a bit. Danger Muffin - a hiker who is helping out for the month - explained our options for the 40 something mile closure that lie ahead. I chose to hike 8 miles the next afternoon and take a zero the following day at whitewater preserve. I hiked out with mamma bear and we encountered a massive aggressive bull. It was big, made lots of noise and I had no idea what protocol was... so we ducked off the trail until it went it's own way. The preserve was quiet, with a beautiful river, like a little haven in the middle of the hot barren desert. A few of us cowboy camped and raccoons gave some folks an unwanted shake down by chomping on dry bags and maps. The next day, I went my own way and found a quite spot on the river with a white sandy beach to nap, eat, listen to music, dance in and out of the river/rinse my body, and mostly soak up the sun. I hitched a ride back to ziggys later after mooching a cupcake and book from some lovely people who were enjoying mothers day at the preserve. If feels weird to call it mooching, but its kind of like being an abandoned dog. People look at you funny because your smelly and dirty, usually you're alone, and they slowly approach you and ask you if your hiking the pct. When you reply yes, their fear of you being a total weirdo tweaker fades and they just start rolling with the questions and offers of generosity - to which you accept, are grateful for and try to control yourself (when they offer you food and try not to stuff it all down your face in one bite).
A lovely older man who was a volunteer at the reserve, and whose sister was a hiker gave me a ride back to Ziggy's around five, where I met back up with chips who had been maxin' and relaxin, and letting his ankle recover. We woke up and began a day of travel - from ziggys to San Bernadino (where I ate in and out that felt just as bad going in as it did going out later), San Bernadino to Big Bear City, to Vonns, straight to the trailhead (courtesy of a very nice guy who has hiked the AT and most of the PCT before - could tell we were hikers and just wanted to help) then, we were right back at it. Chips and I walked, met some day hikers and on day two reunited with the tramily who had been on the shuttle after us. From there, it was most of the usual. Hiking, eating, discovering the better times of day to hike, happening upon some hot springs, popping some huge blisters because they were getting so big I couldn't get them in my shoes, McDonalds (ate 3 burgers in one day. I think the hiker hunger might be setting in?) followed by a night hike attempt - that wasn't much of a success due to being in a cloud, and one last day of some of the most painful hiking of my life. When I woke up on Monday I knew it was about 17 miles to town. I was achy and couldn't tell if it was general fatigue from you know... hiking a whole bunch, or something else (the thought of my infectected blisters rearing their grossness into a full blown systemic full body infection scared me, like, alot). My blisters were now red, and without getting to graphic, it was clear something was wrong. Chips and I packed up, and pretty much pushed through those miles into town with the help of some donated pro bars (thanks Canadian Bacon!) and lots of loud electronic music. I felt feverish and weak all day, and when I got into town I felt a wave of relief.
Wrightwood is a little town in California that like some of the other towns on the trail is simply magic. Upon hitching into town, which didn't take more then 10 minutes, we were at a hardware store that has a book full of locals who love to help hikers. The rest of the crew went to get burgers and I hung out in the shade behind the hardware store attempting to sort out some medical attention. While I was making calls, the most adorable couple in their 60's came up to chips and I, asked us a few questions, and before we knew it they were driving us to urgent care. Maile and Lynn, my adopted new parents for the next few days. Maile has been a care taker for years and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect person to enter my life. Sometimes the universe just knows what it's doing. Urgent care was one of the most painful, gross, and unappetizing things I've ever experienced. The doctor didn't have much to say other than I needed to eat a whole bunch of protein, let these dry out, and take an antibiotic since the infection has gone systemic. Not to get to graphic, but there was a lot of stuff in those blisters. And it's been coming out ever since. My fever continued to go up as the night went on but the tramily took care of me and antibiotics had kicked in by the next morning. We spent the next day at the cabin with the tramily, eating and watching movies, followed by kareoke at night. Chips and I will be spending the next few days with Lynn and Maile since the tramily is headed back to the trail this afternoon. Hopefully I'll be back on the trail shortly, but until then, lots of R and R.
Yesterday on the phone with a friend I described being on the trail as being "similar to what I think being bipolar might be like". In the past few weeks i've gone through some super high highs, and just recently a very low. I've never been super emotional but I feel like a bit of a wreck out here sometimes. One second your on top of the world, the next, you can barely walk 10 feet - Mood swings like crazyyy. It's really hard to bee hobbling around while everyone else can walk and all you want to do is be back out in the woods. And while most of the time you get to ride high, and the highs always outweigh the rough stuff, the last few days were a fight for me (though I have some seriously amazing and supportive trail family buddies). The trail seems to be wise, and bring you things as you need them. It might sound crazy and maybe i'm starting to loose it, but I think it likes to push us (and I really can only speak for me but I like to tell myself that other people are going through the same stuff). Just to the edge, it likes to take you to the line, pushes you just beyond you're limits, then catches you with the magic of the people that surround you, a view, or something as simple as a quick hitch when you know you've got a fever. The trail seems to provide just what you need, right when you need it.