I woke up really early again, but opted to try and go back to sleep. My foot needs to rest as much as possible, and honestly I was hoping that the extra couple hours might magically heal it somehow. I rolled over on my crinkly inflatable sleeping pad and dozed off. This only lasted a couple hours as the sun started to cook me in my tent as it poked over the mountains in the distance. When I got out of my tent I realized everyone but one guy – the one who pointed me out to the water, named Al – was still hanging around and talking to hikers as they came up to the water source. I dug through my pack and grabbed my breafkast: a flattened cream cheese pastry thing. I chugged my water and went down to grab another liter and saw some new faces. Al was surprised I was still around and I told him I was taking the day off, so getting up early hardly made sense to me.
I went back to camp and started breaking things down. One day I might get tired of doing this, but so far it’s not too much of a hassle. I just hate having to fold my sleeping pad up before rolling it, it’s such a pain in the ass.
I threw my pack on and started hiking. The trail was fair to my predicament for exactly .5 miles, then I saw what I was going to be dealing with for the day. Downhill. All of the downhill. If you took every downhill in the world and consolidated it into one trail, that was my day. Usually people cheer over downhill, but in my current predicament, I almost started throwing rocks at the trail. I put in my headphones for motivation and limped down the trail. I let people pass me so I could hobble in peace, and soon enough it was just me and this damn mountain. I will make it to Julian today, it’s only 8 miles to Scissors Crossing where I can hitch a ride. That’s just a dayhike away!
I wasn’t exaggerating.
I should have been excited about this downhill. I should be jogging down it like everyone else is. But no, I get to limp and stop every 10 minutes to take weight off my dumb foot. Every so often the pain would become unbearable and I’d let out a little “argh!” and come to an abrupt halt on the narrow ridge. I have to admit, it really started to get to me. The thought that I’d have been limping for 25 miles just to get to a road to hitch into Julian was a little strange to me. Injuries on trail suck, but I eventually just stopped worrying about it so much. It is what it is. I’m out here, this is what I’m stuck with, what can you do? Nothing but walk! That’s what I came out here to do anyways, right?
I opted to just get lost in my music and stare at the views. There’s an obvious floor and an end to all this downhill, so my focus became just to get down to it. Miles tend to melt away under your feet out here, so it didn’t take me nearly as long as I thought it would to get to the end of this dumb hill. The reward for doing so was just so perfect. We dipped down into the desert desert once again. Nothing but dust and dry plants. My amazement at the scenery seriously took the pain away from my foot for a moment, and I was able to walk like a regular person yet again.
The miles really, really melted away here. Walking along this dusty mountain was one of the highlights of my trip so far, foot pain be damned. I was in a desert dreamland, and not even the heat was getting to me. A part of me started to feel like I was born to desert hike, and more and more I start to feel like I was born to hike the PCT and so much more. Not that I put too much stake on fate or anything, but sometimes things just feel so right.
The trail started to ease upward which gave me an opprotunity to do my thing. I love going uphill, it releases wonderful endorphins that can solve any problem. Soon enough my foot almost felt healed completely by the time I got to the top. I could have sprinted the whole thing at that point if I wanted to. Actually, I kinda did. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I was having a good day, alright? I am so in love with this desert.
The trail graciously wandered downard at a reasonable rate as to not bother my foot too much (thank you trail!) and eventually I was at the desert floor. The very place I was hoping to hike through days ago, I was here now. No fucking way! I paced through here like no one’s business taking pictures of every little thing I could find. If I had the food/water for it I probably would have taken a picture of every single rock along the way, but you know, priorities and all. It would be like this all the way to Scissors Crossing, hooray!
Eventually I found myself standing on a road. I have never hitchiked in my life. How the hell do you do it? I opted to take my hat, sunglasses, and dust strewn overshirt off. Hat and glasses for mystery factor, overshirt for dirt factor. My legs were absolutely caked in dirt, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I stood there waiting for a car.
Okay. I think I need a car to come by in order to hitchike right? Or am I just crazy? I looked around, and to my left I noticed streets linking up to the main road I was standing along. Well I guess I should walk down further. I grabbed my pack and made my way down. As I was walking I heard a car behind me and immediately shot my thumb out without looking at what was behind me. A white truck pulled off the road in front of me. Magic! Magic I tell you! It worked! I sprinted over and greeted the man behind the wheel.
“You heading out to Julian?” I asked.
He seemed apprehensive.
“Well.. Not quite, but almost. I can take you real close though” He responded.
“Hey man, I’ll take it. Thank you so much” I said confirming the deal. I just got a hitch on my first try. Hell yeah.
I threw my pack in his trunk, and we were on our way. His name was Dave, and he was coming back from a camping trip. This guy knew a hell of a lot about the local flora and was overloading my mind with plant names and would constantly stop mid-conversation to tell me to smell the air outside as we hit different walls of different vegatation. The guy knew his stuff, cause every time I caught a different smell. It was so vibrant and so awesome. I forgot all the plant names unfortunately. He’d stop and point things out every so often, and eventually we were two miles outside of Julian where he dropped me off. He seemed to feel really bad about not being able to take me the whole way, but I didn’t mind at all. I got a ride, that was good enough for me.
I got my pack out from the trunk and resolved to roadwalk the rest of the way. I was initially a little worried about doing so because the shoulder looked small, but as long as I stayed off the road entirely it wasn’t too bad. Occasionally I’d have to stop and wait for a car to drive by so I could resume walking, but it wasn’t as nearly as hair-raising as I expected it to be. In fact, it was actually really nice. The two mile road walk was just as much of an adventure to me as the PCT at that moment.
I found myself at the city limits of Julian within moments. The dramatic change in scenery was a little disorienting. It wasn’t the desert I was just in, it wasn’t the forest of Mt. Laguna, it wasn’t like El Cajon or Campo. Julian is just.. I dunno.. Beautiful. Rolling green hills with country-side trees. It is the living embodiment of a small town you’d see in some picturesque movie. I felt at ease coming into here, and knew things would turn out alright. The fact that there was a pizzeria in town solidified this.