At dawn Rally, Justa, Karaoke and I packed up our gear and headed out toward the much anticipated Warner Springs, a major hiker centre and resupply point. I had sent a box of food there from San Diego, although I wasn’t anywhere near finished with the food I had carried from Campo. Between sickness and exhaustion, I had barely been eating.
A few miles in we reached Eagle Rock, a PCT landmark in the middle of a vast, yellow meadow. We posed and took photos of each other posing in front of the rock, squinting into the sunrise.
We passed several hikers coming from the opposite direction, including a trio of older women with small day packs. They wore jewelry and makeup and smelled like shampoo.
“Where did you hike from?” One of them asked.
“Mexico!” We answered emphatically. “We’ve been out here for more than a week!”
“Would you like some tangerines?” One lady asked. I nearly squealed with excitement as she handed us two small oranges. “Would you mind if we say a prayer for you?”
“That would be really nice,” I said.
The ladies linked arms with us and we bowed our heads as they said a brief prayer for our safety and success. My heart swelled from their kindness as we said goodbye.
Our approach into the Warner Springs Resource Centre was filled with giddy anticipation. In the courtyard I recognized Rachel and Katie, Detour, Scott and many other familiar hiker faces. The Centre was run by volunteers from the local retirement community. Inside, we ate burgers and paid for laundry and showers. I saw Doug, who I started with from Campo and whose trail name was now Canadoug. I asked him about his experience so far with his hammock; it made me want to ship my tent home and buy one for myself.
“What’s wrong with your eye?” Someone asked. I replied that it was probably allergies. “Are you sure it’s not pink eye?”
“Yeah, I’m sure!” I wasn’t sure, but I really, really hoped that it wasn’t. Detour dipped into his pharmaceutical supply and gave me some garlic extract pills and more Benadryl. He said the garlic would clear it right up. I wasn’t so sure, but figured it wouldn’t hurt.
I took my shower outside in a little stall that didn’t provide much privacy. I didn’t care. The cold water felt amazing. Afterward I changed into my rain gear and handed my laundry over to wash.
A bunch of us got a ride to the post office where we collected our resupply boxes. Back at the Resource Centre I dug through my box, mostly full of food that I already had and no longer wanted to eat.
A woman came up to me and started chatting and asking questions about the trail. She said she was there to interview PCT hikers, and would it be ok if she recorded me talking? I said of course. She set up her iPhone on a rickety tripod and asked me some questions: How are your feet? How do you feel after your shower? What’s the hardest part about hiking the PCT? What types of conversations do you have on trail? That was my favorite one.
“Pooping!” I said. “Definitely pooping. On the trail, you can have just meet someone and be like, ‘how’s your poop’? I don’t really talk about poop at home but out here it’s totally normal.”
I later learned that the interview was for the Wall Street Journal.
I collected my laundry and as we packed up and got ready to go, I had a chance to talk with Jack Haskel from the PCTA about trail maintenance. I asked about the remote stretches of trail that were seemed so smooth and well-maintained, almost out of place in the landscape. He said that much of the trail had to be dug and then filed with dirt our sand that had been brought in. I couldn’t even imagine the amount of time and work that must go in on a regular basis to maintain 2650 miles of trail.
We hiked out in the late afternoon through a windy meadow, making camp in a wooded grove by a small stream. I set up my tent, but left the train fly off since the night was warm. I was so tired, and so clean. After socializing around the campfire, I crawled into my tiny tent and fell asleep in seconds.