PCT Day 19: Zero in Big Bear

May 7, 2022

0 miles

I thrash around all night. I’m warm from the sweatpants and sleeping quilt and the being inside, and I don’t sleep well. It doesn’t seem like anyone has slept well though, to be fair. We’re all doing that thing where it’s fairly easy to fall asleep but not easy to stay asleep. Ah, well. It was nice to be inside in any case.

We get up quickly when Papa Smurf and Mountain Mama awake and bring the brigade of dogs with them. We sit around for a while, updating social media and waking up. Then the trail angels give us an amazing breakfast of biscuits and gravy and egg scramble. I just can’t get over how amazing trail angels are!

When we’ve all been fed and caffeinated (over-caffeinated in my case; I drink two cups of coffee and immediately remember why I stopped drinking it back in February), Mountain Mama and Papa Smurf drive us into town for various errands. First up is the Motel 6 where we’re staying tonight. They let us check in early and we put our packs down. Then we drop off Andy and DLT at a hair salon, where one of Papa Smurf’s friends works. DLT has been on a quest to get his (very dark) hair dyed bleach blond. Apparently the hairdresser is extremely nervous about it, but agrees to do it anyway. Andy documents the entire experience and sends photos to the group chat.

Meanwhile, Rob, Petra, Ishay, Beetle, and I go to the post office to bounce some stuff ahead to Kennedy Meadows. The line is nearly out the door and it takes way longer than we anticipated, but a silver lining is that we get to chat with some fellow hiker trash friends, including Christina, who is hiking with her friend Andrew and making a podcast along the way. Once we finally get our stuff sent, we make a trip to a gear shop and then get dropped off at the Vons grocery store for our resupply. I feel like I do a good job of planning out my days and watching my purchases, but when the total comes up I almost have have heart failure: $98. I know that same resupply would have cost $60 at most on the AT. I panic mildly. This trail is not going to be cheap. Not in 2022, not on the west coast.

After we recover from the shock, Rob, Petra, and I walk over to the Starbucks to meet Beetle, who says he’s found us a ride. It turns out to be a guy in a van who has no seats in the back, just a raised platform with a blanket over it. Beetle and Rob climb in the back, and Petra and I share the front seat. Very safe. At first the guy seems fine, but then he starts making weird comments, especially to me and Petra. Just as we’re about to get back to the motel, he says, “Okay, when you two delicate fairy princesses get out, I can tell the guys a misogynistic joke.” Um, what the fuck? In the bitterest voice I can muster, I reply, “Or you could not.” It shuts him up. I leap out as soon as we arrive. It rattles me for a while and I am cranky until Beetle gives me a chunk of his French bread and some salami and I eat a Twix bar and half a carton of strawberries. Then I finally calm down.

Beetle, twerking

The afternoon is slow and luxurious. I pack my food bag, FaceTime with my mom, take a shower while listening to music, shave my legs, and start to take a nap, but then Andy and DLT come back and we all collectively freak out over DLT’s hair. It looks like the hair equivalent of Kraft mac and cheese. It looks like doll hair. It looks like what a child would draw if you told them to draw a blonde person. It is hilarious. Petra and I immediately start braiding it.

We faff around a while longer until we decide to go for dinner. Rob has located a “saloon” called Wyatt’s that is across the street. He, Petra, Beetle, DLT, and I head there and are very confused when the location of the bar looks like some sort of church or convention center rather than a restaurant, and when we finally find the entrance, it is a sight to behold. It looks like the large atrium or sanctuary of an evangelical church turned into an elaborate Wild West set, with long tables covered in plastic red-and-white checkered table cloths arranged around a central dance floor. Around the room are façades of restaurants, businesses, and homes in the style of a Western film, not unlike what one would see on the stage of a well-funded high school musical production. A few of the tables bear signs that read, “Reserved for Vince’s birthday,” which leads Petra to say, “Its this a kid’s birthday party?” It definitely has kid’s birthday or family reunion vibes.

We wander over to one of the building façades at the end of the hall and order our food, then walk to the adjoining stall and order beer—of which they actually have a good selection, including a tasty hazy IPA. We gather around an oval betableclothed table and eat our food. Feather Blue, Machine, and a few hikers whose names I didn’t catch sit down and join us. The chicken tacos are pretty good, if small, and because of this and the boxed mojito I drank earlier, I am almost immediately drunk.

A band starts playing music, a blend of old hits and country-ish songs. I get up to go to the restroom, and when I get back, DLT and Feather Blue are dancing with some random folks to “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the room. I join them. It’s followed by a few more good ones, including “Sweet Home Alabama,” and by now it’s just me and DLT dancing with this adorable older woman who is really getting into it. After the song ends we go up to their table and speak to her and her family, and they ask about the PCT. They’re locals and they come here often, apparently. They laugh and say, “Welcome to Wyatt’s!”

Eventually DLT and I are the last ones left. We wait for them to play another banger, but it seems like the band is on a long break now, so we just head back to the motel. We all share a couple more boxed mojitos and giggle until it’s past bedtime. Beetle educates me on Things I Have Missed On The Internet, including the “peanut butter baby” video, which makes us laugh until well after 11.

Oh, zero days. How I love you.

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