Monday, May 8
Start: near I10 underpass
Total Miles: 217.5
As I emerge from my tent I see Yoobee and Pacer heading out. I’m out about 610am and Dos Tacos and Drum Solo are just rustling to life. The muscles are stiff and barely work as I slowly pull myself away from the highway. And I mean slow. I’m creaping along wondering if I’m heading in the right direction. There’s a sadness that I can not shake. Uncharacteristically, the tears stream down my face but I pull it together as hiker after hiker passes me. Soon, Drum Solo and then not far behind, Dos Tacos pass me. Drum Solo even gives me a power shoulder shake which is very caring but it’s doesn’t pull me out of my funk. The tears are again streaming down my face. I’m just so sad that my mom is in the hospital and that my family was trying to keep this from me. With each step I feel like I want to turn around and hitch out at the highway. But’s that not what one does at the first sign of adversity. The trail teaches you to push on when everything else tells you to turn around.
To add more to the drama load, I exchange a few texts with Lil’ Buddha about a friend renter at my parents’ house in Ukiah who has not paid her utilities nor left the key upon her departure. I take full responsibility for this situation as I am the reason she is there. She even left a hole in the bathroom wall that Lil’ Buddha had to fix.
I manage a steep climb out of a canyon which helps get my engine pumping. I’m almost cruising along as a red trail hawk coasts by. I watch it land nearby which stops me in my tracks. It retreats seveal times and I am mesmerized as it circles. Is this a sign and what does it mean? I still think I’m plotting my escape from the trail, so maybe it’s a sign to hitch out? I drop into the Whitewater drainage and head up the canyon. It’s a few miles before I hit the river and when I get there my crew is sitting at the river’s edge in the sun. I seek out some shade and lay down. It’s not long before the sun is stretching towards me so I put up my umbrella. I’m kinda falling asleep but look up to see my crew heading out. My heart sinks even further and I know that my time with them has come to an end. I only wish I could have said goodbye. And I love them to death but I simply can not keep up. Their feet are feeling better and their breaks are few and far between. They are young and I am not.
I lay next to the Whitewater River for nearly three hours. Hiker Mountain from Germany rolls in and we chat a bit. Eventually I admit that I’m going to head back to the Whitewater Preserve and hitch out. Very incitefully he says that I’ve lost my heart and then he asks me what I’m going to eat when I get back to civilization. Pizza and beer I tell him.
I hike the two miles back to the Preserve and I’m totally amazed. This place is awesome and so cool and refreshing. I chat with two sisters for a while and even tell them I’m trying to hitch out. They do not offer me a ride. I kind of wander around a bit and just as I run into Apple Juice, a woman chats with me a couple minutes and then offers me a ride. She’s going on a hike with her son but afterwards she can give me a ride to the casino. She and her son are the sweetest and weave around the elaborate shopping area until we arrive at the front doors of the Morongo Casino.
It’s expensive but now I’m here. I finally get to my room and it’s so so nice. A little slice of luxury. I figure out that the SF Giants are on tv. Plus the Pittsburg Penguins are playing and in about 20 minutes the Golden State Warriors will start. It’s sports heaven. I want to shower but decide to head out and find food first. There’s an In-N-Out but I end up at a Taco Bell and buy $20 worth of food. Next, I hit up the gas station for beer, chips, smoothie and banana. I arrive back at my room, arms loaded and I use my garbage can to hold ice for my beers. Per tradition, I’ve got my shower beer in hand as I wash away the trail grime.
I splay myself across the bed and stuff my face with taco bell as I chat with Lil’ Buddha on the phone. The circumstances on my renter friend are very suspicious. She left a wad of unknown $$ amount on or near the microwave and she’s not sure which day. Supposedly on a Tuesday but there was someone doing children’s (she has a young son) laundry there Saturday. Also there is no sign of the key which means I’ve got to change the locks at the town house. Lil’ Buddha has been texting her and she insists she left it. Would my brother have taken it for some reason? We both agree he wouldn’t have done something like that without letting us know.
We also chat about my sadness and general discontent on trail. I’m sad about my mom and being kept out of the loop. The overall trail vibe kinda sucks because hikers are so into themselves. I love my group but unfortunately there’s a world beyond them. It used to be that if you saw another hiker, the mere fact that you were both hiking meant you were instant friends. Now, hikers don’t even acknowledge other hikers. Are there just too many hikers that we all can’t say hi to one another? The last two days have been rough on my body and I’m hurting. Probably more stiffness than anything but I feel like I need a break. My zero in Idyllwild was not very fulfilling.
With a belly full of beer and taco bell I cheer on the Warriors to a win. It’s not long before I’m passed out asleep in the most comfortable bed, perhaps, ever.