Miles 558 – 573
I was trying not to worry about the next section, but really, I was scared. The descriptions of the next 50 miles to Walker Pass are fucking ominous. 40 mile water hauls, high temps, no shade, no cell service. Bears and rattlers the whole way.
To get back out to the trailhead, I just walked down the street with my backpack and poles. A fairy angel pulled over in an SUV and yelled that I should get in. She was retired military and a busybody about town. She liked going to town meetings and getting het up about saving the community from dangers of truckstops and windmills. She took me to the trailhead at Highway 58 first. Because that’s the one from the movie.
“This isn’t where I stopped, I think I was at the other trailhead.” I was ready to skip those 8 miles but my angel was determined and she had nothing but free time that afternoon.
“No problem! I’ll take you to the other one!” While we drove, she explained that Cheryl Strayed started her hike in Tehachapi, not at the border. I did not realize that. Maybe I should read the book again. Now it makes sense, why she didn’t see anyone for the first few days of her hike.
Actually, my trail angel said Reese Witherspoon, as if the actress had been the one that hiked.
Not everyone reads the books, I get that.
Around nightfall I came to the next trailhead and found the kid from Pennsylvania talking on his cell phone. He was trying to get a replacement for his busted water bag. I gave him a piece of tenacious tape. There were gallons and gallons of water there, even some warm Gatorade. A Barry Manilow record was nailed to a post. I refilled and chugged and then started up the hill.
It felt like the next couple hours were all uphill. First in twilight and then in darkness. Walking with a headlamp messes with my depth perception. It’s scary when the wind picks up, especially if I was crossing a ridge with big drops on either side. I came to nice camp spot under some trees and threw up my tent there. I wish I could power through the night, but there always comes a time when every part of me gets tired at once.