Mile 66 to 77
Total Mileage 11
Woke up at 5 again today and knew immediately it was going to be hot. So, so hot.
Good news is we were motivated since it was TOWN DAY and we only had 11 miles to hike. In town lay the promise of a trail angel who offered laundry, a free beer for hikers, running water, and a porch to sleep on if we needed a spot to crash. Also free pie!
It was another beautiful ridge walk and we could see the whole valley floor spread out below us as we walked toward it. The last two miles were brutally hot, flat, and sandy. I brought up the “Q” word again as I daydreamed about laying in a pool instead of limping into town on my blistered toes. I also realized my shoes were too small.
We made it to the water cache at mile 77 and knew we’d have to hitchhike into the town of Julian, 12 miles up the road. I took my hat and sunglasses off to look as non threatening as possible and I stuck my thumb out for my first hitch ever. Took all of ten minutes before a white SUV rolled up, “got five bucks for gas?” the driver said. We threw our packs in and settled into the backseat as the male passenger swigged from an open handle of Jim Beam describing how we would careen to our deaths off the mountain road if ya weren’t driving it sober. The driver explained that she only smokes pot so it was fine and gave us a detailed history of the area while her entire life possessions and flea bitten chihuahua flew around the back with us.
We stepped out of the SUV in the small town of Julian and I burst into tears. We beelined for the free pie and the guy working the counter was unbelievably accommodating- a free slice, ice cream, and a drink for hikers! Plus outlets and he let us bring our packs in and use the restroom to wash up. We sat there and I ugly cried for a couple hours, pretty convinced that it was my last day on trail. Josh convinced me to go walk around town and I stopped into a lodge to ask about rates. When the lady at the desk said it was her last room for the night we jumped on it even through we were only 77 miles in. We dropped our packs in the room, did some sink laundry, and then I took a glorious shower with a washcloth and time to scrub between my toes. They had shampoo! I emerged feeling 1000% better about the hike and with some courage to walk around town to the popular hiker spot, Carmen’s.
We walked in and stood there awkwardly as what seemed like 60 hikers and their gear swarmed the porch. Finally a woman in the corner yelled, “Come on over and introduce yourselves! You two look too clean to be hikers!” We hugged her and admitted we got a hotel for the night. Then a bottle of tequila appeared (you know, for Cinco de Mayo) and the next thing we knew were taking shots and chasing it with Tecates someone shoved in our hands. She showed us the grill, with brats and burgers and buns, “they’ve got just a little penicillin on them, it’s fine”. A homeless man and his two dogs were asleep in the corner. We got Claire, a Scottish woman we’ve been leapfrogging, to try her first PBR.
After a few hours of chatting and meeting some other hikers who started before or after us, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed a Julian hard cider on the way (fun fact, that’s the town where it’s made!). We snuggled up while it fogged and rained outside knowing we would be in Warner Springs to our first mailed box in just two days.