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Posts Tagged ‘Shags’

We felt lazy and Inspector Gadget felt sick, and, well, we hadn’t had any beer since 8:00 a.m. the day before, so we hitched into Big Bear City early at mile 250 on highway 38.  It was not the easiest hitch.  It took about 45 minutes to go in two groups since there were six of us.  Hop-a-long and I split to help the guys since people seem to trust girl hitch hikers more.

Eventually we got in with a truck that had an enormous husky in the backseat.  I sat with it and it honestly outweighed me, but it was a super sweet dog.  We got a room at the motel 6 and began cycles of showering and laundry.  We did get around to food, but apparently too late as everything closed around 8 or 9 at night.  The front desk guy scrambled around for us and found a Chinese place that delivered and said it was the only place open and delivering besides an expensive pizza place.  We went for it.  It sucked, but due to extreme hunger, we ate the styrofoam filled with msg.

That evening, we managed to stay up well past hiker midnight to watch the epic awesomeness that is Game of Thrones on HBO. But after that we passed out until 6 a.m. when we got up and got our slackpacks ready.  Shags, Hop-a-long and I started trying to hitch back to Rainbow Lane where we got off at mile 250 around 7:30 in the morning.  In the meantime, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, and Safari went to breakfast at the Lumberjack Cafe.

Amazingly, they finished breakfast and we were still standing there. Our next thoughts were to split a van taxi, so we called the only taxi company in town and they told us $33.  Six ways, that’s reasonable.  But then, as we waited, Safari decided to keep trying to hitch out and gets picked up by a very beat up white station wagon that had a Slipknot sticker on the back and a woman who outweighed him at least by a factor of two.  We feared for him.

When the taxi came, we got in and the dude started driving until he asked us, “Does anyone want to use an ATM?”

Now, we’re all thinking we can scrounge enough cash for $33 that we don’t need an ATM.  Inspector Gadget asked him about what the lady on the phone said about the price and the driver started flipping out because it was actually a double rate since we had more than 4 people (which we had expressly stated in the phone call).  We got out. Lucky for us, we had gotten about a half mile down the road and he dropped us at a small market that made hitching easier.

Hop-a-long and Inspector started hitching and got a ride within about 20 minutes in a white pick up.  Shags, Dead Animal and I then started hitching and picked up a ride from a super sweet woman ski instructor in about the same time.  Hitching is much easier in twos and threes.  Occasionally, four works, but rarely more than that unless everyone piles in the back of a pick-up truck.

A few miles down the road, we saw Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget hitching again.  Apparently their first ride wasn’t going as far as the Rainbow Lane, about 10 miles down the road.  We got dropped off first and walked over to the trail and sat down to wait.  Safari had blasted off.  We drank a beer while we waited and they came not too long afterward.  One of the Japanese guys came and joined us for a moment, Wanderer.

When we started hiking, we hit the animal cages where Hollywood apparently put large animals such as bears, tigers and lions.  After a few pictures and petting a 3-legged dog, we continued on down the trail.  Eventually we realized we needed to haul ass to make the post office hours to get Inspector Gadget’s laptop out of his bounce box.

The trail threw a few obstacles in our way of hauling down the trail.  First, we found Safeway brand sodas and a couch sitting on the side next to a beat up dirt road.  Naturally, we had to sit on the couch.  It’s not often such luxury just appears on the trail and thru-hikers are the laziest group of active people ever.  Then we found a picnic table at the water source at mile 256, and due to the lack of picnic tables on the trail, we stopped.

From there we did haul down the trail with our super light slackpacks.  Near the road, we saw name brand sodas from Motel 6…better than Safeway brand that Nature’s Inn left.  When we got to the road, it only took three cars before we got a ride for four of us.  Safari was nowhere to be found and Shags had gotten just slightly behind.  A super nice woman got Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget to the Post Office before it closed.  Laptop, check!

We headed to the hostel across the street as well because a few of us had packages there and we wanted to examine their hiker box.  You can find some amazing stuff in hiker boxes.  And food.  I found a disposable razor which made me super psyched.

We ended up checking out the liquor store over there on the way out and saw another group of hiker trash also making a beeline there.  Converging on the beer, we noticed it was Knees, Hollywood, Extra Credit and a few others.

From there we went to sit at the bus stop to get a ways down the road to Pongs (highly recommended restaurant).  After about five minutes of looking pathetic, a guy stopped and gave us a ride there.  Now, Pongs is a place with hiker portions.  All of us had enough food to stuff ourselves silly and have a whole other meal for breakfast.  Not long after we split into two groups to hitch back to the motel, Double Sprainbow yelled out of a car window, “Wanna hitch???”

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Naturally, we fit seven people in one of those old person cop look-a-like cars.  They had rented the last car in Big Bear because they needed a zero and the town is so spread out.

Back at the Motel 6, we caught up on a Game of Thrones marathon, drank beer, and lounged.  First of all, the room did not come with an ice bucket, so we made one of the trash cans into one and kept the beer cold in it.  Second of all, we decided to be cheap and fit 6 people into one room the second night.  It was a bit cramped, but ok…we managed three of us on one double bed too.

Sleeping in, we were going nowhere fast until the sun cooled down.  We packed up, went thrift storing, and got stuff ready to either send out or put it in the hiker box.

“Anyone need hand sanitizer? I have some extra.” I said

“I’m good,” said Dead Animal.

“I have enough,” said Hop-a-long.

“Why do you guys all need hand sanitizer??” Safari asked.

“Your hands are the biggest vector of spreading germs,” I replied.

“Poop germs,” Dead Animal said.

“I only poop in town,” Safari shot back.

“That will change,” Hop-a-long laughed.

We then sat at the bus stop to get to the Post Office when a super awesome old guy named Don with at least a 6 inch beard and an 80% timber wolf in an SUV pulled over and threw all six of us with packs in the back and drove us to the Post Office and the grocery store while we stalled to escape the heat.

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Getting to the I-10 overpass, we figured out the service road we had to hitch on and thought, “oh shit, this could take a while.”  But then a car pulls over almost immediately and out pops Beardo, who apparently had some nasty stomach virus and had to get three bags of saline pumped into him.  His friend who had dropped him off gave us a ride to the Cabazon Post Office.

Yogi’s guidebook description of the town was spot on: “kinda creepy.”  We grabbed our boxes and went to the corner market to grab a snack and try to hitch to the next town over, Banning, to grab a room for the night since our knees and feet hurt after the never-ending descent from the San Jacintos.  Supposedly, a bus existed between the two towns, but no one we talked to knew where it was or could give us a straight answer, some of which was because English was clearly not their first language.

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Eventually we got a ride over to the street with all the cheap motels after the van dropped a few people off at the casino and everyone seemed to call the driver “dad.”  Our “non-smoking” room definitely had a few burn holes in the carpet and one in the comforter, the toilet mostly flushed, and the TV was pretty fuzzy, but we did manage to get the Silence of the Lambs to come in clearly, so we watched that after getting amazing Thai food across the street.

The next day, we stayed until check out then wandered “downtown,” got our picture taken with a little kid who thought it was awesome to just hike all the time, then watched a $3.75 matinee of Dark Shadows…sweet movie.  Eventually, Pete met up with us (a friend from high school) who had driven over from LA.  We got more awesome Thai food and he gave us a ride over to Ziggy and the Bear’s house right off the trail and we hung out there with the other hiker trash.

They had an awesome shade set up there with chairs, an outside washing sink, clothesline, charging station, porta johns, i.e. awesomeness.  Dead Animal and Shags managed to catch up late that evening.  We spent the night there on scraps of carpet which surprisingly added a lot more comfort.  The morning scorched us from the start.  We started packing up and almost left but then Inspector Gadget and Safari (whose slave world name used to abe Ari) rolled in and we all decided it was too hot to hike out until evening.  That was our 8 a.m. decision and man was it the best decision in a while.

During the day, we snoozed, read, drank cold soda (beer was not allowed unfortunately), and played Rummy, best card game ever.  We did find a spray bottle with water which saved us from completely roasting, even sitting on our asses in the shade.  Quite literally, we sat doing nothing and we dripped with sweat, sucking down liter after liter of water.

Eventually, we did leave, although not until about 5:30 or so.  We had to go up 2,000 ft from the get-go.  Being the lazy ones we are, we found shade in a dug out by the wind farm two miles later and lightened our packs by drinking a few tall boys.

Before we knew it, we got up to the top of the first climb which took a steep turn all of a sudden right by the top.  We all, meaning: Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Shags, Safari and I, hung out at the top looking back down at the interstate below and the flashing lights of the towns.  I managed to wring out the back of my shirt which was drenched in sweat.  We got headlamps on then and meandered along the trail for another few miles.  We passed a huuuuge toad and managed to take pictures with our headlamps.

We ended up getting about 10 miles after a few shenanigans to the first water crossing where we crossed the large creek and found a flat spot in the wash on the other side and fit five of us in fairly close to each other where we passed around another few beers while we cooked dinner at 10:30 at night.  Shags declined our awesome spot to go a few more miles while the weather stayed cool at night.

4:30 a.m. came way sooner than we thought.  I knew the day would kill us when I could throw off my sleeping bag and not be cold at 4:40 a.m. in shorts and a tank top.  We left by 5:30 and hiked through more of the large wash which actually was confusing in pre-dawn light.  Of course, it climbed immediately out of the wash.  At the top of the climb, the oven turned on, i.e. the sun rose.  I rung the back of my tank top out of sweat by 6:30 a.m.

We took a break 6 miles into the a day under a super sweet tree at the second creek crossing.  Looking at the map, from there we had to climb 5,000 ft.  Fantastic. We drank the rest of the beer so we didn’t have to carry it up. It tasted awesome at 8 a.m.  Leaving there, we decided to find a shady tree by 10:30 a.m.

About an hour after the tree, I saw a fat 2 foot rattlesnake chilling right in the middle of the trail and I had to wait for about 5 minutes for it to move.  Eventually, after a half hour search for a decent tree, I found a tolerable one.  Hop-a-long and Safari made it there, but Inspector Gadget, Dead Animal, and Shags ended up at a previous tree.

We cooked lunch at 11 a.m. or so, then slept.  I woke up soaking in sweat and realized the shade had moved and I was partially in the sun.  Sluggish, I sat up.  Hop-a-long was more and more in the sun and Safari had woken up covered in ants.  The ants were shrugged off and I set up my tarp so we could go back to sleep and/or read.  So far, I’ve set the tarp up more for shade than to sleep under at night.

Eventually, when all shade had left that area and it still managed to cook us through the tarp, we packed up and moved over toward the creek.  Luckily, for once, as in the first time on the trail, we followed a creek for several miles uphill.  Good thing since I sucked down a little over 6 liters of water that day.

We did manage to leave the tree, but not until 5:45 p.m. making it about a 7 hour break.  The sun was still strong and amazingly hot.  Continuing up and up, we ran into the wilderness boundary sign.  Usually those signs don’t lie…it’s only the ones that have mileage markers on them.  This one lied.  The boundary, according to two different maps marked the boundary considerably two miles or so after where the sign was, causing us to think we had gone further than we thought.

Eventually, we did figure that out and gave out from tiredness around 9pm, making it a 17 mile day…not bad for having a 7 hour break.  On the last, steeper part of the climb, we ran into the first Poodle Dog Bush.  We had all been warned far more than probably necessary.  Main message: don’t touch it or you die, and especially don’t smoke it.  I made sure I had my headlamp on bright to see it all, some of which was right in the middle of the trail.  I felt like I was in a video game like Donkey Kong were I was walking and if I touched the Poodle Dog Bush, I died, but if I got around it, I got bananas.

The next morning, we lazily did not move until a little after 7 a.m., mostly because we had managed to gain 4000 of those 5000 feet and the air was cooler up high, mixed with these wonderful things called trees which provided more shade.  I still am having trouble conceptualizing trees up high and small, scrubby bushes below.

We took a long time at the first water source because none of us had much energy.  Not to mention, Inspector felt sick.  He claimed to have very bad tasting burps and a stomach ache.

“Have you filtered your water?”

“What have you eaten?”

“Have you puked?”

“What color was your shit this morning?”

Gut feeling’s comment from a few days ago popped into my head, “why do bodily fluids and bowel movements always somehow come into the conversation when you get three or more hikers together?”

We had to finish that climb, then we had two more smaller ones that contoured small peaks in the region.

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The entire reason we went into Idyllwild was to celebrate Dead Animal’s birthday per his plan, however, he was lagging behind due to our Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which lasted well past hiker midnight (9 p.m.).  Hop-a-long, Inspector Gadget and I got a ride into town fairly easily and began our town routines which included grabbing mail drops and bounce boxes from the post office with our food for the next few days, then grabbed some hot food at the pizza place with a delicious chocolate porter.

Most of the rooms in town were full by the time we got there, swamped with hiker trash, so we found the $3 campground which ended up suiting our budgets much better.  Inspector Gadget had Dead Animal’s number and he mentioned maybe not making it into town since he still had 6 miles to go.  We told him to suck it up, P.S. happy birthday.  Our next move went to the laundromat where I sat there charging my phone and iPod wearing, my scarf on top and shell zipped up around the bottom having the arm holes coming out from my waist.  I felt bad putting clean clothes on when I hadn’t showered, but whatever.  We found the token machine for showers not long afterwards and cleaned up properly for the first time in 10 days.  At least half my tan washed off and turned the floor into a mess of layers upon layers of dirt and sunscreen.

Dead Animal did manage to suck it up and got in around 8 p.m.  Since no other restaurants were open, we met up at the only place in town still open: the liquor store.  As Dead Animal put it, “at least they have their priorities straight –  we can get beer.”  We got some beer and snacks then went to Spork and Chimp’s room to watch tv and celebrate.  That went well past hiker midnight as well.

In the morning, our early start kept getting delayed until eventually we waited until the heat went away.  By that time I had the brilliant idea to eat an entire bag of ruffles potato chips.

Eventually, Hop-a-long and I escaped the town vortex and began hitching our way back to the trailhead at highway 74.  One sketchy dude turned around and told us we were hitching from the wrong spot, so we opted not to get in with him and keep waiting.  Then another truck turned around with a bunch of hikers in the back including Moxie and the Israeli with the hurt knee; Lawrence the spring man had shuttled them in and was taking them further into town.  Finally, a nice retired man picked us up and took us to the trail.

Upon setting off into the steaming afternoon heat, I noticed that my brilliant potato chip idea was not so brilliant as they did not seem to digest, but rather sat as one large lump in my stomach.  A large group of horse riders passed us going back to the road which meant horse poop all over the trail for at least several miles.  Great.  They always seem to want to poop exactly where the most convenient spots are to put your feet.

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We wound in, out, and around large rock piles that seemed so likely to have sat on the sea floor a million years ago.  Between the heat and the potato lump lodged in my stomach, both of us had slowed down.  We plugged on beginning to ascend for miles and miles to the first ridge in the San Jacinto Wilderness.  For a bit we had the usual switchbacks, but occasionally it liked the throw an east coast number in there and just go straight up.

By the time we got near the top of the ridge it was pretty dark,but we caught the tail end of the sunset and the amazing amount of lights coming up from houses far, far below.  We popped up on Challenger who had camped about 2ish miles from where we wanted to be.  It felt good to be on top of a ridge again and not just winding up and down on one side of it, but when Hop-a-long and I started talking out loud to coax our feet into moving, it was about time to call it for the night.

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About a half mile before where we wanted to camp, we found a sweet spot with a bench.  The bench sold us and we plopped right down to cook.

In the morning, we headed toward Eagle Spring to get water and then eat breakfast.  A whopping 3/10 of a mile down off the trail, we came to the piped spring with maybe 2 or 3 drops per second coming out into a rusty metal tub with some bugs floating in it.  Knees had gotten down there just before us and we all looked at it, debating what to do. I had aquamira and Hop-a-long had a steripen, but Knees let us use his awesome sawyer filter. It worked fantastic! Now I want one hahaha.

After a long breakfast, we got moving again, but soon took a break when we found Lawrence the Spring Guy three miles down the trail handing us either donut pastries or dried pineapple rings!  We asked him if he knew why lizards do the push-up routine and he thought it was something to do with depth perception since their eyes were on the sides of their heads.

Climbing up again, we stopped a few miles later for lunch and realized how slow and distracted we were that day.  The next 8 or 9 miles seemed to go on forever and we kept thinking we were further than we actually were due to the crazy switchbacks.  I kept thinking how terrible it would be to be on a horse through that section when a few times I could only fit one foot on the trail – not both together…so how is a large horse supposed to fit four?

Beautiful, sweeping views went everywhere and I felt like I was in a plane looking down and the square town areas so far below.  A few times the entire ridge became so narrow that it might have stretched 10 feet wide total.

We ran into Gypsy Girl and Hamburger who decided to hike sobo back to the highway.  Gypsy had thrown away her trail runners that fell apart after 150 miles and got on the sandal train, going with the Tevas.  Later on, we ran into Dead Animal and Shags also sobo-ing and we circled up with a nice 24 oz Mickey’s that Dead Animal had packed up.

Finally, we got to the stream which flowed magnificently and cooked dinner.  Gut Feeling, Sunset, and Knees stumbled up later, overjoyed because they had run dry on the last stretch.  We hiked on two more miles to saddle junction over a few patches or snow here and there.  It said on a huge sign not to camp in the saddle, so we hiked up a hundred yards or so and camped there.

We managed to get going fairly early but our legs didn’t want to climb two more 1000 foot climbs.  Plus, you know it’s going to be hot when you’re in a tank top, shorts, and sandals going through snow patches at 9000 ft,  at 7:30 a.m.

The water sources for five miles flowed excellently.  The problem: six of them in five miles, then 20 miles dry. We knew we weren’t going to do 27 miles that day, so we loaded up, cooked lunch, then headed down the trail for the last two bumps and then a whopping 8,000 ft descent.  We met Wildflower and Nips having lunch who mentioned that Mellow Yellow had somehow gotten behind me, which made me laugh.

Beginning the descent, we were excited until the switchbacks made it seem like we weren’t going anywhere.  It seemed like whoever made the trail just made you see one view, then walk a ways to the other view, then back and forth, back and forth.  At times, I felt like I was walking in circles, not actually going down.  Then the damn plants!  There is one suuuuper prickly one that just hurts and scrapes you up something fierce!  It has pretty flowers from a light blue to light violet to make you think it’s nice, then it just scratches you endlessly.

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We found a campsite a little after mile 200 to cowboy.  In the morning, we were both up by 5:30 a.m.

“I slept like shit,” Hop-a-long said.

“You took the words right out of my mouth,” I said.

“Every time I rolled over, something went numb,” she said.

“I couldn’t breathe out of my nose and I was too hot,”  I replied.

At 6:20 we left and ten minutes into the morning I already saw a snake.  Great.  We had a few thousand more feet to stumble down.  I found Andrew the Australian with only 200 ml of water left and I gave him half a liter to drink since he looked desperate.  About half way down I heard buzzzzzzz buzzzzzzz. Shit! Bees! Run! We bolted down the trail from the large amount of bees in a rock by the trail.

The water faucet at the dirt road was a welcome sight and our knees were overjoyed not to descend anymore.  A security guy named Bob drove his truck up.  “Any ya’ll get stung by bees today?”

“No…” was the answer from me, Hop-a-long, Andrew the Australian, and Ninja.

“Oh good! Those bees up there are Africanized and aggressive.  A hell of a lotta hikers got stung yesterday!”

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