Mile 78 to 89
Although in the comfort of our hotel room, we wake on backpacker time – 6:00 am, a full hour and a half before breakfast is served. We fill the time engaged in a hair dryer battle against our determined to remain soaking wet clothes. Breakfast is fair to middling by any standard other than our own, which places it somewhere near spectacular. Orange Juice! Cereal with real milk! Fruit! We stuff our belly’s until we fear our pack hip belts will require extensions. We waddle back to continue the battle with our clothes, until we are thrown out of the hotel at noon.
We return to the road to hitch our way back to the wilderness. We stand across from the high school where there is plenty of traffic, but no offers of a ride. There is a exciting road bike race (although most participants ride mountain bikes) with far more cyclists than residents in poor little Julian. A very nice local architect, Terry, shows mercy and drives us back to the trail. His daughter works at Mom’s pie shop and he apparently picks up thru-hikers almost every day. We slip back under highway 78 for some shade, only to discover that the huge water cache from the day before is completely gone. Only a small wet spot remains where yesterday were piles of 1 gallon plastic jugs. Luckily we have enough water, but it makes clear you cannot count on a cache.
After staring at the never ending shadeless switchbacks, we abandon our troll like hiding place at 2:00 pm and walk into the heat. We struggle up for 10 miles, the only real sign of life a desert tarantula, who seems much less excited to see us then we him. Near 8:00 pm we dropped into a tiny dirt patch on the trail and call it home for the night. We make instant mash potatoes, enjoy a star show and fall asleep hoping not to be stepped on by any night hikers.