Mile reached: 266.1 (+13.0)
High: We gave Megan a name and made her cry tears of laughter
Low: I left a glove behind =(
Pitchers of margaritas needed to get 3 thru-hikers intoxicated: 2
Wow, it was extremely windy in the middle of the night. I woke up worried that my hat was going to blow away even though it was weighted down with rocks. Otherwise, I slept well on the couch as the back protected me from the wind. Others who slept nearby did not enjoy the night as much.
Everyone was eager to get into town, so most of us were packed up by six and off to cover the remaining 13 miles to the highway. The trail wandered through nice forest for a few miles before reaching the arid east side of the Big Bear Valley. There the Jeffrey and Ponderosa pines gave way to Pinyon and even the occasional Joshua Tree. We could also clearly see down to Apple Valley on the desert floor below.
Before long I rounded a corner and found two sets of trail magic just before the highway. I grabbed a root beer from one and set it in the ice chest at the second so as to enjoy it cold. Right as I was making my way to the highway to hitchhike into town, Megan and Jenna showed up. There was also an older man, who had just dropped off his son at the PCT. So, Jenna talked him into giving us a ride all the way to Big Bear Lake conveniently obviating the need to hitchhike.
We got to town and prioritized eating over bathing. The local brewery had deep fried avocados, the best hiker food ever! We eventually got settled into the hostel and were read all the rules by the ever colorful “Sarge”. There was a scale, of which we doubted the accuracy at first. Though after demonstrating linearity at several weight ranges and convincing ourselves there wasn’t a significant offset, we discovered that “Moon Guy” had already lost 30 lbs! Fortunately, I had held constant or maybe gained a few pounds.
Eating of course was a priority. So, we did a quick resupply followed by dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The working hypothesis is that the increased metabolic rate of the thru-hiker makes them more sensitive to alcohol. After a few margaritas or beers, people were both pretty loud and silly.
One recurring conversation over the past few days had been what to name Megan. At the grocery store she found an inflatable pool dolphin and took a photo carrying it to suggest that she might one-up “Dino Man” and Terrance. Once “Moon Guy” saw it, he proceeded to make fun of her and eventually gave her the name “(dolphin noises)“, which is pronounced like the noise Flipper makes. It seems pretty odd in retrospect, but we must have fixated on that joke for at least half an hour.
The Flipper noise was surprisingly challenging to make, and in this process it was discovered that I could bark like a small dog. So, with much laughter people started calling me “Chihuahua”. It’s much better than the other candidates people had been throwing out for days, which were all centered on me being so much faster than everyone else. So, it doesn’t feel vain to introduce myself that way.
We were all cleared out by some exasperated waitresses, especially when we split the check 14 different ways. The restaurant also closed 40 minutes before we finally left; though in our defense it took them a long time to serve us and even take it order. The nearby ice cream store was closed, so we all went back and crashed pretty hard by 9:30.