PCT Day 20: Vibing With My Cucumber

May 8, 2022

Big Bear Lake to Highway 18 at mile 266.1 to Little Bear Springs Camp at mile 285.6

19.5 miles

I’m the first one up in my room. Despite sleeping in a bed, I didn’t sleep well. Curse this pattern of falling asleep and then waking up! Oh, well. It was still nice to be comfy. We pack up at various speeds, get coffee in the lobby, check under the beds, and get ready to go back to the trail: back home! Andy is ready first, predictably, and he gets a ride before the rest of us slowpokes. We say goodbye for now to Petra, who is staying for a couple of days in hopes of healing her heels. She’s convinced she won’t see us again, but the ways of the trail are mysterious, and I think we’ll meet up at some point.

DLT, Ishay, Beetle, and I try and fail to get a hitch, so DLT calls Mountain Mama. She graciously picks us up and drives us back to the trail at Highway 18. Thank you, Mountain Mama!

It’s so windy today at the trailhead. I haven’t braided my hair yet, and it flies around wildly. I finally wrangle it into something passable, cinch my pack straps, and start walking. I’m with DLT at first, but he pulls over and I’m feeling good, so I go ahead alone for about seven miles to the first water source.

This might be the longest stretch of time I’ve hiked alone so far on this trail. That’s still shocking to me after so much solo hiking time on the AT! I have a fresh cucumber that I packed out holstered in my shoulder strap, and I munch on it over the course of these miles. I put music in. I’m vibing so hard alone with my cucumber the way God intended. The trail is so easy today. I walk up a few gentle switchbacks and into woods smelling deeply of pine. I munch on my cucumber. I dance to the music.

Before long I’m 9 miles in at the first water source. I see Andy leave just as I’m arriving, but Beetle is still there under a tree. I plop down and join him. DLT, Rob, and Ishay soon join us. As we’re eating our tuna wraps and trail mix and peanut butter, I hear an excited “BEETLE!” from the road. It’s Petra! She’s staying with a trail angel named Tink today, and she’s helping her do some trail magic. So in addition to seeing our friend, we also get fresh water! Petra hangs out with us for a few minutes until Tink gets ready to go. See! I knew we’d see her again.

It’s a cruisin’ afternoon after that. I walk with DLT and, as usual, we talk pretty much the whole time. This becomes difficult, however, because I am seriously sleepy after two subpar nights and that huge lunch. The afternoon sleepies are real on this trail. Luckily, the PCT is mild and gentle today. There is forest and smooth path and ridge line. There are views to snow-capped mountains. We absolutely cruise, barely expending any effort.

We stop for a break next to a very pokey log, and Andy passes by, walking with another group. He pulls over to chat with us, and then I continue with him for the last three miles to camp. I feel like I haven’t seen him much over the last few days, and it’s nice to walk with him again. It’s been interesting to blend into this larger tramily after the first part of the trail with just Andy and Petra. It’s like I almost don’t know how to be in a bigger group and still maintain my connection with him. We talk about this for a while as we enter another fire-scarred area. Then, in what feels like a return to home, he starts telling me stories and jokes that make me laugh so hard that I almost fall off the side of the mountain.

Camp is a windy stretch of bushy sand in the valley. Get this: there is a privy! No catholes for ya girl tonight. I set up my tent, then sit at the table (table!!!!) with Andy, Rob, Beetle, DLT, and the other group we’ve been hiking around today: Spice, Mash, Mouse, Stinger, Fits, and… some others whose names I definitely don’t remember. It’s a lively dinner. Andy and DLT both have a spicier-than-expected ramen that hits them hard. Spice realizes that her risotto is both grim and a very large portion size. Eventually, we all power through our meals and pack up.

Beetle gets a dramatic puncture in his sleeping pad just as we’re about to turn in for the night, so Andy, DLT, and I help him (well, mostly I just provide emotional support) as he tries to get the patches to stick to the pad. Eventually, with the help of a boiling pot of water to soften the glue, he gets it to stick, and we all go to bed, somewhat frozen.

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