I was getting close to Big Bear City. I had gotten in touch with DOCK, who gave me the best trail massage ever in Stehekin
. He was living in Big Bear City, and had offered to let me stay with him for a couple nights.
Admittedly, it was getting harder and harder to wake up before 6:00 AM those mornings because the sun was rising so late. I had realized over the trail that I did better with climbs straight out of the gate in the mornings than later in the day, though, so I was glad the one big climb in the day was at the very beginning.
Yup, that's a plastic flamingo
I ran into Blender and Compass and the rest of the group a few miles in, and stopped for some snacks. Everyone had stopped here last night, so it was quite fun! Unsurprisingly, I ended up staying longer than I had planned.
Thanks for the trail magic, guys!
I ran into Big Tex on the trail, whom I hung out with at Hiker Heaven
a little ways back, and he was doing a section of the trail with his dad. Yahtzee and I stopped to chat with them. It seemed like I was having reunions all over the place in this section.
Unfortunately, this was the last time I would see Yahtzee because she had a hard deadline, while I was taking my time in the desert, so I was going to stop in Big Bear City while she was going to keep hiking. It was weird; I had met her so far up in Washington in my first week on the trail, and we had hiked together since then on and off since the end of Oregon. I had spent more time with her than anyone else on the trail, and it made me sad to have that trail companionship end. I ended up visiting her after the trail in Colorado, though, so it wasn't the last time we would ever see each other.
I got to the highway to Big Bear mid-afternoon, and was able to get a quick hitch into town. There wasn't a lot of traffic, but the first car I saw stopped for me. He was a nice guy who was in town for work, but all of his co-workers were just sitting around drinking all day and he was tired of it so he was headed back to the hotel. He hadn't ever picked up a hitchhiker, and was excited to talk about the PCT he had just been telling his young daughter about it recently.
I got to DOCK's place, which was actually Papa Smurf's and Mountain Mama's place, two well-known trail angels. DOCK and I went out to get Indian food, and I was so happy. I was the only hiker there, so I got the attention of the 3(!) dogs in the house all to myself.
Oh I guess I can never get up ever again oh no
I found out Big Tex was over in Big Bear Lake a little ways down the highway, so DOCK and I went to meet up with him and his dad to hang out for a while. I had decided to take a zero the next day, and I ended the day with a nice cup of tea and conversation with DOCK.
Also, vegan mini-donuts
The next day, DOCK made hummus and we made tofu curry together, and it was awesome to eat some home-cooked food and use a kitchen again for the first time in forever. I'd never been a huge fan of cooking at home, but when you don't even have the option to use a real kitchen for months on end, you start to miss just being able to. Ctrl+Z and Katie had made it later that evening and also decided to stay a night, and helped us finish the huge pot of curry.
I missed cooking and the smells of food cooking
I genuinely didn't think I'd be taking another zero. I knew I wouldn't be leaving early, but I thought I'd be leaving. Well, that sure didn't happen. There was an upcoming 12-mile section along Mission Creek DOCK had told me all about, and I was well-aware it was littered with washouts and was extremely difficult to follow. I sure wasn't going to do that in the dark, so I knew exactly where I'd be stopping for the night if I left that day.
Long story short, I decided to stay one more night and DOCK agreed to drive me back to the trail very early the next morning. Like 6:00 AM early. But I got to sleep indoors, and that was alright by me.