Mile 352 to 369
To avoid getting stepped on, I rise early and get going. I was passed in the night by two hikers, whom I now find asleep next to the trail, in positions no better than mine. Sometimes the trail does not give you a place to sleep, but you squeeze in anyway. The vistas back on the pass are fantastic, but I earn them with a lot of up.
The tread of a trail is sloped outward so water will run off in sheets, decreasing damage from erosions. On a meandering trail, the slope changes often enough that you hardly notice it. This trail, however, hugs the same side of the mountain for miles and miles. The 1 to 2 inch out slope, usually so innocuous, is now out right tortuous. It is like walking with a limp for hours and my muscles protest formally, possibly in a letter to the UN. I fantasize about a hydraulic heel, which automatically adjusts to the topo contours. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but right now she is just a mother.
To distract my mind from the pain I remember a story from Deep Creek I forgot to mention. I stop to pull some Peanut M&Ms from my pocket (which is not the part worth mentioning) when I hear a blood curdling cry for help from a girl. I quickly drop my pack and flip into certified Wilderness First Responder mode. I spin around trying to locate the girl. She cries out again and I realize it is coming from a bush high on the upside of the trail. She must have fallen from a higher switchback and though exhausted I am trying to figure out the best way to reach her. There is yet another desperate wail, when a bobcat quickly darts out of the bush and goes back in. Suddenly it is all becoming clear. The bobcat is already rendering assistance. No, no, wait, wait. Is that really the sound of a bobcat in heat? The wailing continues.
Resigned to a new role, I quickly switch from Wilderness First Responder to wilderness videographer and pull out my camera. The second the camera is out the wailing ends. After an inordinate amount of time, I give up and put the camera away. The wailing begins immediately. I pull out the camera and it stops. This continues back and forth until I realize whoever the participants are, they do not want the event videotaped, not even just for the audio. As I walk away I wonder why bobcats in heat so clearly mimic a crying little girl. This role playing must be working for at least one of them.
I push on past the snowless ski resort and eventually end up at Inspiration trailhead, where I hope to catch a hitch to Wrightwood. Good news. There is a crowd of people and three cars. As I approach they cheer and then fist pump the rare thru-hiker sighting. I think it odd that the three cars are identical, then realize they are all wearing Latter Day Saint pins. Suddenly I feel like the one making a cold call as I pitch the idea of giving me a lift. Apparently since I am not wearing a pin, the LDS insurance will not cover me. Luckily another car drives by and my good looks and charm stop her. She asks that I get in quietly because she has a sleeping baby in the car. What a country.
Wrightwood is extremely hiker friendly. The hardware store says the AAA lithium batteries are coming in and they will hold some for me. So all is right in the world.