68.4 – 77.3
i wake up early, before the sun has crested over the mountains. i am determined to have an early start today, all i want is to get to town & shower & internet & humans.
as i am shouldering my pack i see two hikers barreling down towards the dirt road where i had camped. they’re flying but i remember what josef said about not hitching alone so i call out to them as they come through. “you guys going into julian?” i ask, “yeah” they say. “can i hitch with you?” they say yes, of course!
they’re just as fast as i thought they seemed & i trot all morning to keep pace. their names are high loon & pat the englishman & they are so so friendly & kind. “you can go ahead of me,” i pant to pat the englishman but he demurs. “but your legs are so long” i laugh, gasping.
we make it the nine miles to the freeway by 9:45. before we can even think to hitch though, there’s a bearded man with an ice box full of cactus coolers & a rav4. “do you guys need a ride into julian?” he asks. while he drives we learn that his name is brewhiker & that he hiked sections of the pct last year. he drops us off in town & lets us know that he’ll be in & out all weekend if we need a ride back to the trail.
a well known perk of being a pct hiker is that mom’s pies in julian gives free pie to hikers. this place is famous both among hikers & everyone else & there’s good reason. everyone working is so kind & don’t even seem to mind that we take over an entire table & charge our stuff. soon it is time for the guys to head back to the trail (they’re trying to make it another 40 miles in the next 24ish hours), they want to get to warner springs before the post office there closes for the weekend. although we only hiked together for a morning, we trade hugs & sincere best wishes to see eachother up trail.
suddenly alone, i feel lost. i don’t see any other hikers but i’ve heard that people like to hang out at carmen’s restaurant. i want a shower more than anything but the thought of being alone for the rest of the day makes me sad & the thought of finding a hotel room is too overwhelming so i decide to check it out. both carmen & her cousin lisa are some of the warmest most caring people i have ever met. they set me up on the patio with ice water & a foot bath & make me promise to tell them if i need anything. “you’re amazing,” i say to carmen. “i’m still waiting on my trophy,” she replies, a glass of bubbles in one hand & a cigarette in the other. the afternoon passes pleasantly & i write & make phone calls & eat a fish taco & catch up with other hikers as they arrive. finally i have the strength & limp across the street to the julian lodge where i shower & take a bath & eventually put myself to bed between the good white sheets. i arrange the pillows around me like a fortress & i sleep.