Saturday, October 8
Start: mid Hanaupah Canyon
Stop: Lone Pine
I toss and turn all night, sometimes admiring the star-studded sky and sometimes watching the glow on the horizon that must be Las Vegas. Two male hikers hike by at 4am. It’s perfect because I was planning on getting up at that time anyway.
My feet hurt bad from yesterday’s hillside hiking. I don’t have blisters but I do feel like my toes have literally been crushed inside my shoe. My pinky toe nails are the worst. I hobble down the road moaning out in pain every time I hit a rock the wrong way. I’m still sipping water from my gallon ziploc. After a couple hours of hiking in the dark the sky begins to brighten and I take a break. I hike for almost another hour before reaching West Side Road. I’ve got 12 miles more until Badwater Road where I’ll hitch.
I hike in the shade of the Catclaw Acacia until the suns rays outreach the height of the plants. Then my sunbrella goes up. At least there’s no wind to fight against this time. I play some podcasts to help pass the time and to take my mind off my throbbing feet. A car drives by but is headed in the opposite direction. I stop often to drink water and eat food. Another car passes. As I get closer to Badwater Road, I can see the tiny reflection of cars. Hope is in sight.
After taking a break to refill my smartwater bottles another car is approaching, again from the opposite direction. I put down my sunbrella and stare at them, but they do no stop. I keep walking but I periodically look back to check on them. I see them turn around, stop and get out. More hope. Eventually they are coming my way and I put out my thumb and put on my saddest face. They stop and the two Chinese couples ask me if I need water. I assure them I have enough but that I need a ride. I stow my backpack in the back of their Mercedes Benz SUV and apologize for my stink as I get in. They take me to the Furnace Creek turnoff and let me out as I thank them profusely. I walk the mile down the road to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and ask the rangers if they have cardboard. No.
I go out in front of the visitor center where I can thumb a ride from people leaving the visitor center as well as the people headed West. After maybe 45 minutes, a car pulls over and I go running after it. Mark is returning from family festivities in Las Vegas and is a true angel. He takes me to Panamint Springs Resort which is past his turnoff to Trona. I decide that I’m hungry and I get a burger and fries at the restaurant. The server is very nice and brings me lots of water. I’m tempted to stay in the shade but know that I better get back to hitching. I go across the road and put my thumb out.
After 15 minutes, a guy with a water bottle hanging off his waist, marches across the road to me. With zero pleasantries and the rudest tone he begins to speak.
“Hitching is not allowed on our property. Get the fuck out of here.”
I’ve got no fight left for this guy. I jerk my pack to my shoulder and turn slowly up the road. The slowest plod ever. And then the flood gates open. I’m crying and then I’m wailing. Even the coyote trotting by pauses to take note, showing more care than the guy that just told me off. The trauma of the last few days pours out of me as I cry uncontrollably. Eventually, I pull my shit together and put my thumb out. Many cars pass without stopping and I feel so sorry for myself. A car rounds the corner and instead of flooring it, begins to slow. These are my people! Hot Mess, OMG and Iron Chef just finished the L2H route this morning and hitched back to Badwater to pick up their car. I congratulate them on their incredible achievement.
They drop me in Lone Pine at my truck and then I see if the Dow Villa has any rooms. It’s Lone Pine’s big film festival so the town is swarming with jangling cowboys. Luckily there’s a room but with no private bathroom. At this point, I don’t even care. I shower, collapse in the bed and let folks know that I’m ok. A few hours later I’m hungry, so I go across the street and order an XL pizza. I bring it back to my room and eat half of it. And it’s not long before I’m fast asleep.
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