Well my friends, followers, family, and anyone else stumbling across my writing here, I am in Idyllwild, California. We (Roi, Sarah, Blake and I) arrived yesterday, driven by our trail friend Evil Goat. Since getting here, we have eaten ice cream, cooked on a real stove, slept in beds, and resupplied ourselves with the essential items to continue enjoying our lives on the trail. I personally have had some time to catch up on my journaling, something I am doing daily to document my adventure, a tangible, written memento of what has been. Some more creative writing in a bit, but for now, here are my journal entries from the past few days.
4/17/2014 Day 7 – Zero day (resting, no mileage)
Very chill day – relaxing with foot baths, food (amazing breakfast scramble), beer, live music courtesy of Roi and Monty and reunions!
After relaxing most of the day, Amanda and I went into town to pick
up Sunbeam and Mike. Not too much else today. Mailed out a resupply to Ziggy and The Bear. Dinner at Monty’s and back on the trail in the morning!
4/18/2014 Day 8 – Warner Springs to Mile 127 (trail angel Mike’s) – 17 Miles
Staying with Monty was a really wonderful experience. It’s not often you meet someone so selfless, who spends his time and energy helping other people achieve their goals.
After our zero at Monty’s house, we were anxious to get on the trail and bust out some miles. But of course, we needed to eat a huge
gut-bomb breakfast. Spinach and cheese omelets and biscuits and gravy…sausage gravy – the best I’ve ever had. I had a second helping and coffee as well.
In a blaze of gear-shifting and glory, we braced ourselves for warp speed. We rocketed towards Warner Springs in the bed of the old pickup, arriving at the trail head in a fury, ready to move. We thanked Monty for his hospitality and began another day.
The hiking went by as if we were floating, our legs and feet energized and restless from rest. Before we knew it, the map confirmed 15 miles. After suggestions from multiple people to stop in at trail angel Mikes, we knew where we were headed.
I ran into Blake at the top of the ranch driveway and neither of us knew what to expect. We heard rumors of beer, music, food, and
good company. We were not disappointed.
Everyone I have met in the past week was already telling tails from the journey. Many new faces showed up today too which is always and enlightened social experience. There was beer, food, we played music, we met new faces and had a grand time. Now we sleep.
4/19/2014 Day 9 – Miles 127 to Paradise Cafe – 25 miles
Long day – 25 miles. We stayed at Mike’s place last night and slept out on the porch. We awoke early to the smell of food cooking.
Tom had the stove up and coffee slowly brewing. Most other hikers left before sunrise but I took my time. I drank three cups which woke me up.
I said my goodbyes and was out the gate running (not literally). The weather was nice and the first ten miles went by easily – made it to Tule spring by 11:30.
I took a nice rest, filtered water, ate food, washed socks, and dried out the feet. Roi and Sarah caught up and after some discussion, we decided to push another 15 miles to the Paradise Cafe. A big burger was in our future.
The last miles dragged a bit but some iphone music helped with that. Finally we climbed up the side of Table mountain and the road came into sight. I practically ran down the last mile of trail and was thrilled to see a sign offering free rides to the Paradise for hikers.
We waited a short while for Lee, Brent, and Blake before calling for our ride. We joked about how we must smell as we loaded into the
As we ate huge (HUGE) burgers and drank IPA, Evil Goat arrived and told stories while we got stuffed. He offered to let us spend the night at his place.
Blake and I got the RV and Roi and Sarah got the guest room. We all shared a beer before passing out.
4/20/2014 Day 10 – Zero day – Ride from Anza to Idyllwild, CA
We were up around 7 and drinking coffee in Goat’s kitchen shortly after. He treated us to coffee cake and Mexican breakfast with chorizo sausage.
We spent the morning talking with each other, hearing many storied from Goat’s experience working in Iraq. We relaxed.
Before long we were in the car making the climb to Idyllwild where we thanked and said goodbye to Goat.
The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring town. We ate ice cream and I found gaiters and sandals. We also got some beer.
Our room at the Idyllwild Inn is surprisingly nice. Wish I had more money saved to indulge a bit more in town!
Some additional thoughts…
For anyone hiking the trail this year, I have some advice. Learn about and visit any and all trail angels. In my planning process I put very little time into learning about the trail angels that give so much of their time and energy to us thru-hikers. These people go out of their way to make the experience of hiking much more then just getting from point A to point B. They are a diverse group of people who all share one common quality – they love the trail and actively support us in our quest to hike it.
The first trail angel that I want to give a special shout out to is Warner Springs Monty. This former through hiker has a big heart and welcomed up into his home without hesitation.
I first saw his name on a piece of paper that was taped under the overpass at Scissors Crossing. It was upside down on the concrete wall in front of me and initially, I didn’t even take the time to read it. After camping near the highway that night, I was preparing my pack the following morning when I finally cocked my head sideways to see what was printed on this piece of paper. The gist of the note was simple – Monty would pick you up, give you a place to sleep, food, shower, and laundry. There was no fee although it was suggested that you make a donation based on what you could afford. In all honestly I thought of this opportunity as a great way to save a little bit of money getting some of my needs met. I copied down the phone number on the piece of paper before setting off for a long day of hiking.
Eventually I made it to Warner Springs and after a double cheese burger from the resource center, I decided to give Monty a call and see if he had room for me at his house. A quirky man answered the phone and after I introduced myself, he said something like, ‘I bet you’re looking for some food, a shower, some laundry, and a place to sleep, right?’. Of course this was exactly what I was looking for and after Monty explained that his house was not a ‘party house’, he said he would be more then happy to pick me up.
Roi and Sarah had already talked to Monty earlier that day and they were planning on going to spend the night at his house also. We all agreed to a 2 o’clock pick up time and made sure we were all there when Monty arrived. Another hiker by the trail name Santa’s Helper decided to come with us as well.
When Monty finally rolled up in his old, brown pickup truck, he was not exactly the man I had pictured in my head. Younger and more spry then he sounded on the phone, Monty burst out of the driver seat and introduced himself. We asked if we could get a ride to the post office to pick up our resupply packages and he quickly agreed and told us to load up. I couldn’t immediately locate my ID and fumbled with my pack while I heard Monty say something like ‘I should know better then to wait around for hikers’. HAH! I didn’t want to be left behind so I grabbed my whole pack and tossed it in the bed before quickly hopping in myself. Roi and Blake also jumped in and we were off.
Without going into every other detail of our stay with Monty in painstaking detail I’ll distill our experience into a final paragraph. Monty turned out to be an amazing host. His impatience is simply his nature and I learned to love this quality and almost find some humor in it remarking to Amanda, ‘When Monty is ready to go, he is READY TO GO.’ He cooked us breakfast and dinner, piling food on our plates multiple times until we had no room left. He told us stories of his life, hiking long distances with little weight. Monty turned out to be an awesome musician, jamming with Roi for about 3 hours, having us sing along with some classics as well as some of his own original songs (all stolen from other musicians he joked).
As Monty drove us back into town so we could continue our hike, I realized something (I think I actually realized it sooner). This experience was MUCH more then just having an inexpensive place to eat and sleep. This was the experience of a human being, selflessly sharing his love of something with other people who have that same love. Travelers and adventurers seek experience, not tangible things. Monty is that traveler and that adventurer. He has been formed by the amazing experiences and interactions that only the trail can offer. He has sought to provide these same experiences for those of us following in the footsteps that he and others have pioneered. He asks nothing in return. Enjoying the experience is his toll and it is a rich bounty that money could never purchase. I want to say, THANK YOU Monty, a hundred times over. Your caring and enthusiasm has enriched my experience and I only shared your company at mile 109! I have 2500+ more miles to meet other people like yourself.
Any hikers coming up the trail behind me, give Monty a call and if he has room, stay with him, even if it’s for one evening. Put some money (it doesn’t have to be a lot) in the donation jug to help him continue doing the amazing things he does for us.