Southern CA D

June 7, Tues.–Zero day

I got up really early this morning and tiptoed into the kitchen of the main trailer to make a really nice breakfast for everybody–bacon, sausage and pancakes with sliced strawberries, butter and maple syrup–all washed down with more “cowboy coffee.”  The 15 or so hungry thru-hikers were very grateful, especially the ones who just came in late last night.    (You may ask, “Where did you get all that food you cooked?”  Well, just out of the fridge and off the shelves–if it’s not labelled with a name, it’s fair game!)

I spent the morning writing journal entries, counting our food, and making a shopping list for the grocery store in town.  Lunch was giant salads again–we are doing our best to obey Donna Saufley and keep that fridge clean!  People keep buying stuff and putting it in for everyone to use–everyone is VERY generous!  Bill meanwhile was keeping his feet up and resting and airing them.  They look MUCH better!  The blisters and raw spots are healing fast.  He had fun talking to the other hikers.

A bunch of us piled into Big Red in the afternoon for the run to the grocery store, and I had fun shopping, including buying stuff to put in the fridge for other hikers to eat.  But I had even more fun talking to the newbie checkout clerk at the store.  He had been noticing PCT hikers walking by on the road, but had no clue what was going on.  Turns out he’d noticed that all the guys have beards, and concluded it must be some kind of Amish pilgrimage!  I had to assure him that we were all sorts of people, from all over  the world, hiking the famous Pacific Crest Trail that runs right by the front door of his grocery store.  And the beards–well, it’s kind of hard to shave when you are backpacking! 

Back at the Saufley’s, Bill concocted a box for mailing home our ice axes and Yaktrax.  The Saufleys have a great system for mailing hiker packages, and soon there was quite a pile of them on the porch!  We are not the only people who are going to save the Sierras for later.  People are planning to “skip up” up to various places along the PCT to the north.  Some are going all the way to Canada, and planning to “sobo” back to Agua Dulce!

Meanwhile, the hikers who weren’t in the middle of “redoing their itinerary” were all engrossed in a movie about the first climb of K-2, and when it was over, the barbeque got fired up, and it was feast time again–cheeseburgers with bacon and all the fixings, hot dogs, and “smokey links” (I never had those before–wow, they were good!).  Hikers also scarfed down bowls of coleslaw and baked beans and to wash it down, there were a lot of softdrinks, beer and wine.  Then, to the complete surprise of one of the hikers, a chocolate cake was produced, and “Happy Birthday” sung.  He didn’t know we knew it was his birthday!  And oh yes, we had ice cream with chocolate sauce, too.  Pig-out city once again.

But we were really happy also because today we’d been able to “eat” the kind of food Jesus ate, that He talked about in John 4:34,  where He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.”  The “food” Jesus had just been “eating” was to talk to a bad Samaritan woman and help her understand that He was the Savior God had promised to send, and that all the crummy life she’d been leading could be transformed and she could be forgiven.   Well,  while we’ve been here today “taking a zero”, we also had a chance to discuss spiritual things with a number of the other hikers.  The conversations were very interesting, and very diverse, but the one common denominator for all (and I totally understand it, because that’s where I used to “be at”) went like this: “No way do I want God bossing my life.  It’s MY life, and He can just stay OUT.” 

Some of the hikers took the position of living in a very tiny world called, “I’m a good person, and I don’t need God”.  Some were living in la-la land of “Oh, all religions are the same–just pick one and be sincere.”  Other hikers were just basically bored with the “religion” they were brought up with (usually some “empty shell” form of “Christianity”), and were looking for new spiritual “thrills”.    A couple of them yelled at us and told us “Get lost–I hate you people who try to push your religion on me.”  There was one hiker, though, who really listened, and said, “You know, I can see that what you’re saying is true, and the Bible is for real, but honestly, I just don’t want God in my life right now.  Maybe later.”

Talking with all these different people was fun, but sad.  Not one of them actually know Jesus Christ or what He has done for them.   Bill and I went to bed in the RV and spent some time praying for all of them, because tomorrow we hit the trail again. 

June 6, Mon.–Zero day

A bunch of the hikers organized a huge breakfast this morning of bacon, eggs, homefries, pancakes and fruit salad, washed down with “cowboy coffee” made in a big pot, since the coffee machine wouldn’t work.  Yum!  We all ate like pigs.  The dogs, of course, were interested in everything we did, and after breakfast, “Buddy” followed Bill and I into the RV and made himself at home! 

Donna's flowers--with tents for thruhikers in background

Donna's flowers--with tents for thruhikers in background

A group of us got organized to ride “Big Red” into town, and while people were getting themselves together, I walked around the garden, enjoying Donna Saufley’s flowers. 

"Big Red" ready to roll

"Big Red" ready to roll

 Then we all crowded into the van, with Panda at the wheel and Bethany with the map, acting as navigator.  Most of the rest of the day, we spent locating items we needed.  Bill got new shoes, I got trek poles (TWO of them, this time), we got another pair of patella straps so we could both have two.  Bill got his watch fixed at a jewelers (now that was a WEIRD moment!  We were in a very upscale mall, in our now-clean hiking clothes, and Bill’s beard is, let’s say, grown out some, and we walked into this very fancy jewelers to get a new watch battery and have it installed.  We got some VERY strange looks!). 

Thruhikers at In 'n Out

Thruhikers at In 'n Out

 Lunch was at In ‘n Out–best hamburgers and fries in the west!  For the first time in my life, I ate a “Double-Double” with fries and a milkshake–and no worries about calories!

In the late afternoon, we were back at Hiker Heaven, where all of us had giant “clean-out-the-refrigerator” salads for dinner.  Bill and I worked on the logistics of our change of plans.  I still felt very sad at not going straight on through the Sierras, but I told myself, “Don’t take it for granted that exactly at the time we were here at Hiker Heaven, that thruhiker came back from the Sierras and warned us all about how bad it was.  If we had gotten here two days earlier, we would have missed him, and who knows what kind of serious trouble we might have ended up in.  This is God’s mercy to us, and I need to respect Him and be grateful.”

The evening entertainment tonight turned out to be a visit from Lawrence the Trail Gorilla (we actually did meet him before, at the highway before the Desert Divide).  He told us many tales of his amazing efforts at improving and maintaining the PCT in Southern California.   He is the one who put up the little sign showing where to turn off for Eagle Rock.  He put up little signs pointing out where poison oak was so that nonCalifornians would know what to look for.  He put up the shower in the tree at Tule Springs….etc.  Wow!

And by the way, all the hikers are getting a good laugh out of a list that Donna Saufley posted.   Here it is:

10 WAYS TO SPOT A FORMER THRU-HIKER:   10) Wears the same clothes every single day .     9) Sleeps on the floor next to the bed. 8) Ignores the toilet–prefers to dig little holes in the backyard.    7) In the kitchen, a string hangs from the ceiling with a tuna can and stick tied on.      6) Puts on gaiters to walk to the mailbox.   5) Uses stairs at work rather than elevator–insists upon taking a snack break upon reaching the top floor.  4) Wooden floors are all pockmarked from pole tips.   3) 40% of household food budget goes to pop tarts and snickers bars.   2) Declares each morning that “this will be another zero day.”   1) Says things like, “Hey Mom/Honey, can you slack me to the mail?”

Well, number 2 applies to us!  We have decided to take one more zero day here to let Bill’s feet heal as much as possible!  Donna Saufley has a guestbook, and everybody writes in it.  Bill wrote the “lyrics” to a song he made up while we were on the trail and heading for Agua Dulce.  The tune is “Oh, I Come from Alabama With My Banjo on My Knee”.   It goes something like this: “We are marching to the Saufley’s, to the Saufley’s we will go,  Our feet, they are a’hurtin’, but our pace we will not slow.   We are going to the Saufley’s now, for food ‘n drink ‘n rest,   We are going to the Saufley’s,  ’cause, the Saufley’s are the best!”  (Chorus):   AGUA DULCE!  The hikers’ heaven on earth!  If you’ve got a list of trail angels, the Saufley’s rank is FIRST!”