Mile 188 to 210
It is not unusual for week-long backpackers to believe thru-hikers are trading off miles for smiles. I ought to know, I was one of them. When thought of as a completely different sport, however, I see this as a false dichotomy. I personally plan on doing both. Just not today. Today I am missing Brian. Today I have to settle for miles only.
With nothing holding me back and facing a ton of downhill, I am determined to test my legs. Highway 10 is 21 miles away. Ziggy and the Bears 22. I set my sights on the highway. I quickly run into a hiker going south, who stops to tell me his silver Mercedes is parked at the campground. He says if I have any trash, I can leave it on his car and he will take it out. I am confused. The campground l am thinking of is 14 miles ahead and it is too early for him to have come that far. I start to think he just knows where his ex wife’s car is parked, but it turns out he has driven to a campground much closer than I thought.
I continue to descend.
Whenever I visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, I have the same emotional reaction. As I first enter the memorial, the lists of names are short. As I descend, the lists grow. The further I descend the more overwhelming the lists become. It is as if I am figuratively and physically over my head with emotion. After a respectful amount of time feeling like I am drowning, I pass to the other side and begin to ascend. The lists begin to shorten. Slowly at first, then faster. Feeling like a free diver short on breath, I race for the emotional surface.
In the same sense that Russell Brand is a bit like Ghandi, I feel my descent towards highway 10 is a bit like the Vietnam Memorial. Every step down I take, feels like a step away from Brian. Why couldn’t it work? I come upon three deer traveling together. Great. Why can they do it? Perhaps they are not headed to Canada. I allow myself to descend into a pathetic emotional abyss, but promise that the ascent to Big Bear tomorrow will be my break for the emotional surface. After all, he is doing what he wants, and I need to move on.
I hit 21 miles and my feet are burning with hot spots. As I enter the tunnel under Highway 10, I encounter a crazy cracker who says something that sounds to me a lot like “I am going to stab you.” Another mile to Ziggy and the Bear’s suddenly seems doable.
Ziggy and the Bear are trail angels who open their home to PCT thru-hikers. They are so dedicated to their cause that when the trail was re-routed away from their home in Anza, they sold and bought a new house not far from where the trail crosses Highway 10. I am offered drinks, fruit, a shower, laundry, charging station, WIFI and a place to sleep on a carpeted backyard. It is amazing. After cooking a quick meal, Ziggy asks if we would like some ice cream. I ask her if she has flown here straight from heaven. She smiles and hands me an ice cream sandwich.
I fall asleep in my sleeping bag, on a soft patio couch.