pct, day five
start: 63 miles
end: 80 miles
another cold and windy but fun day.
we got moving quickly this morning with the hopes of hitching a ride to julian thirteen miles away. we had coffee, tea, and pop tarts for breakfast. our australian friend matt took off about 15 minutes before us and brad started a bit behind us, taking it slowly based on knee pain from the day before.
olga and i both called our parents and chatted for the first two miles. at mile 2 we saw a trough with water and as i was walking to check it out, matt jumped out of the bushes to scare me. he stayed with us for the next 11 miles as we chatted, took pictures, and snacked. at one point olga tried a wrap of salmon, salt and vinegar chips, and taco bell hot sauce. it was weird.
the last two miles were in the desert. it was flat at least but very boring, windy, and just mentally difficult. until finally we saw the underpass and figured out where we had to go to hitchhike into julian.
julian is twelve miles from the trail but a town that loves pct hikers. one shop (mom’s) offers a free slice of pie and coffee/tea/cider to hikers. a honey/nut shop offers trail mix and ciders for free to hikers. apparently yesterday (4/30) a hike friendly restaurant called carmen’s closed, but they used to offer free beer to hikers and a place to stay (we didn’t know this until we got to town).
we started lifting our thumbs at oncoming cars until we saw a park ranger truck approach. hopeful we started talking to him but he said he couldn’t offer us a ride, but that a lot of cars stop for hikers. while we were distracted and talking to him about where to camp for the night, this man in a truck started slowing down and offered us a ride. he moved here from mexico 30+ years ago, works odd jobs, and has a teenage son. he was incredibly nice and refused any payment after we got there. he said he makes that drive four times per day, and always stops for hikers.
we got to town and dropped off our gear at mom’s (after checking to make sure it was ok). we then went out into the street so my parents could see us on the webcam and ran into carmen (from the restaurant). she explained that she had just closed and how much she loved hikers.
we then ate pizza at the italian restaurant in town, grabbed some groceries from the market (like oreos and oatmeal), and got our free pie and hot cider from mom’s. as we walked into mom’s, brad was sitting at the table inside! we were so excited to see he had made it to julian safely. he planned to take a “zero day” (rest day) so i probably won’t see him again.
also at the table at mom’s was an older man talking to an australian woman (anna). it turns out he was a “trail angel” and there to bring hikers back to the trail! no more hitchhiking needed, whew. we finished our food, said our goodbyes, and then he drove for four of us (me, olga, matt, and anna) back to the trail, checked on the rooster that had recently started living there, and said goodbye.
we hiked 3 more miles (now with anna, asking about her life story and other deep questions) and found a campsite to put up our tents to hide from the wind and rain. olga and i made hot chocolate, i had ramen, and olga had leftover pizza.
only 30 miles to go to warner springs (which means shower and a bed).