Snakes, Creeks, and ‘The Smiley Face Mystery’

Location: Grizzly Cafe, Wrightwood, CA

Day: 25 

Cumulative Miles: 369

Showers Taken: 7

Avocados Consumed: 19

On-Trail Happy Hours: 1

So picture this: short little brunette, mid-20’s, portland, tight central top bun, red bandana knotted on top of forehead, dark-rimmed eye-glasses, barefoot, big smile. Her name is Penny, and she is in charge of the MILES OF SMILES.

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For 2 days we kept seeing smiley faces in the dirt. Now I’m going to be frank here, it started to agitate me. I’m not proud to admit that, but enough was enough! We had never met Penny, and we weren’t sure who was ahead that could be responsible for these miles of smiles. The rumors began, the mystery grew…

One morning, I emerged from my tent and began to hike (weird right?). I began seeing smiley faces, and I told myself Jules — you have NOTHING pressing on the to-do list today, so during these 20 miles you will solve this, and solve it you will, TODAY. I gave myself a sweet high-five, toe touched it up, and went full-on detective.

It didn’t take much. Early on I passed Penny and her mate, Austin. A mile later I stopped to pee behind a big boulder, but left my pack on the side of the trail (this way, in case of a tragic peeing accident, someone would know my whereabouts.) Being Detective Toe-Touch, I never took my eyes off the trail. I saw Penny scurry by, stop at my pack, do a full 360, then scurry away. Remember she’s barefoot, and she actually is scurrying, it’s not quite a run but definitely not a walk, the stride is just the right length to be a confirmed scurry, trust me.

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Little did she know I was on to her. Instances like this happened the rest of the day as we played leap frog. The next morning she stopped to say hello as we were packing up our tents. Chuckles first asked her if she knew the plot to the Oscar Winning “Wild Wild West” Will Smith film. She did not, and I couldn’t stop myself and spit out immediately “SO WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH SMILEY FACES??” BAM! Got her, she doesn’t want anyone else to know, but she confessed. She is just spreading the love on the trail, all good intentions. I’ve decided to start leaving her some now that we are ahead. Wow, I can’t believe I just turned that into a huge story, sorry about that. Well I guess you now see where we get our entertainment from on the trail, we turn the little things into big things and then spread tons of rumors.

Can't imagine anyone purposely leaving this svelt jacket behind..

Can’t imagine anyone purposely leaving this svelt jacket behind..

Okay, for whatever reason that was a pressing event. The week in whole was amazing. We left Sunday morning with 6 days of food and 100 miles to cover. My resupply strategy is part snob part “wing it.” I go up and down every aisle in the grocery store at the pace of a senior citizen. I go for nutrients rather than calories, and clearly weight doesn’t matter to me. I tend to pack in avocados, bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, tins of sardines, jars of olives, a ridiculously heavy spice kit, etc. I then get frustrated that real food costs way more than fake food, but accept that’s just how it is. Totally backwards and screwed up, but I will continue to vote with my dollars. I plan on being in debt by week 5 and thus eating pop-tarts all day. Get ready for THAT post!

An array of snacks for meals

An array of snacks for meals

The most predictable and most consumed "hiker food"

The most predictable and most consumed “hiker food”

The first night we camped under a huge rainbow and then shivered in our tents all night. We had great weather the next few days, clear and hot. Centerfold woke up one day and decided that sleeves were extra weight and a thing of the past! So we went from hiker trash to white trash realllll quick.

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Had a lot of good lunchtime naps this week. On one particular day, Little Spoon decided to sit in the creek in this underwear. The leeches attacked, and I do believe he learned a tough, tough lesson that day.

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Gimme yo best hair flip gurlll!

Gimme yo best hair flip gurlll!

One of the weirder days was when we hiked into Deep Creek Hot Springs. Don’t get me wrong, hot springs are great on a cold day and  when there’s an outhouse. This was a very hot day, and there was neither an outhouse nor trash can. It’s a popular day use area so the place was trashed. Toilet paper in the bushes and under rocks, beer cans, food wrappers and a variety of litter everywhere you looked. It was a bit discouraging that people trash such remote and beautiful places. Such potential, now an area with very high fecal content, way to go, America!

"It's too early in the trip to get naked in front of you guys"

“It’s too early in the trip to get naked in front of you guys”

Also, at one point, we looked to our right and there was a women, naked, with dread locks, slack lining 20 feet above the main lake. Just another day, I suppose.

We passed mile 300! I had a nip of vodka for this moment (thank you, Fand) and I passed it around to celebrate! It was the first of undoubtably many, on-trail happy hours. Nothing I look forward to more.

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Guys, I’ve gone THREE WEEKS without seeing a snake (my biggest fear) and yesterday I saw THREE. They were all different too. Probably all deadly and stupid. All just hanging out across the trail giving me heart attacks. Anyone want to know how I handle the situation? Anyone? WELL LET ME TELL YA. I wait for my heart rate to lower, I stamp my feet, smack my poles, and hope for any movement, ANY movement at all! When they don’t move I figure they’re dead. So I throw rocks at their faces. The first two rocks I don’t try for contact, it’s just a scare tactic. When they don’t even FLINCH, I call them an “idiot” (in a really pathetic shaky voice) pick up my third rock and aim for their face. I usually hit them (not too hard) and they still don’t move. I start stamping again and this proves successful for the first 2 encounters.

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Here’s a sunset, not a snake.

On the third encounter of the day I’ve just about had it. This guy was a total idiot. After 15 minutes of using all my skillful well researched tactics, I look up and see Centerfold not too far down the trail looking at a map. Phew. I call him to my rescue. He does his stamping routine and has the same frustrating outcome: nothin’. Alas he has a great idea, go AROUND it. I do. I don’t like it, but I take a detour behind the snake. I thought many times of running and jumping over it, and every time I vomitted in my mouth. Much too big of a pansy. Maybe next time.

Here's a rainbow bridge, not a snake

Here’s a rainbow bridge, not a snake.

The week ended with a quick stop at an off-trail McDonalds, lots of climbing, beautiful views, windy afternoons, snowy mornings, and a day-off in Wrightwood. Little Spoon has an ankle injury that he barreled through, and we also have time to kill before we can safely cross the Sierras, so the day 1/2 off in town is a good call.

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I was the first one in town and I showed up so cold that I decided to treat myself to a room. The original plan was to camp or stay at a trail angels house. I wanted my own space, and it’s not good for the budget but it’s really good for the mind. I’m surrounded by hikers all day and night, and they are amazing, amazing people, but I do definitely need some space to reset and refresh, you know, so I don’t turn into a total isolated betch.

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The only cabin available was a big one. I took it. I told mile 55 to come stay if they wanted, and it’s been grand. We started drinking in the evening, got Mexican food, and of course, had trouble sleeping all night. It’s a basic cabin, the beds are wooden planks, there’s no television, and laundry costed me $6 and took 16 hours. I wore a strangers XXL frog togs rain jacket to dinner/bed and a pair of clean shorts I keep around. Oh, and a pair of chuckles socks. But I was showered! And I used shampoo! I felt like a million BUX

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Burrito mania!

Anyone order a gall of milk? No? Okay, how about beer then!

Anyone order a gall of milk? No? Okay, how about beer then!

Tomorrow we set out again. The worst of the storm has passed and we are hoping to get another 6 days and 100ish miles in. My health is excellent and I have definitely found my hiker legs. I roll my ankle pretty badly every 3rd day, but I rehab it back to strength pretty quickly. I have very weak ankles from previous injuries and accepted the fact that they will be an issue all summer. Just really hoping not TOO big of an issue. I suppose I also still have that weird foot tumor, which is just a squishy circle on top of my foot. Everything squishy I automatically assume is a calcium build-up. I don’t even think that is a thing, but it eases my mind.

Barely noticeable anymore!

Barely noticeable anymore!

The crew is feeling good, and I’m pushing essential oils on Spoons busted ankle to expedite the healing process. When I heard they were behind on account of injury, my heart broke a bit. I thought it was worse than it was and thought they might not be able to catch up, this causing a major drift. I left him a note and my peppermint essential oil under a rock on the trail for him the next day. He’s a tough one, and we will continue north tomorrow! Phew!

What??!? Yassss!!!

What??!? Yassss!!!

Welp, time to go to the grocery store, probably buy some unreasonably priced and packaged grass-fed yogurt for the trail! Hell, might even splurge and pack out a watermelon! Clearly I know what I’m doing.

ALSO, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all the mommas, but especially the ClaireBear, the most generous and craziest one of all. I love you! Thanks for always taking care of your baby girl! ???? and sorry for stripping away all your potentially restful nights ???

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Very foggy morning

Very foggy morning

Currently at 7,000 ft.

Currently at 7,000 ft.

Oh, that's IT?? #easy

Oh, that’s IT?? #easy

Also, Chuckles (Maggie) is a freelance writer and has a killer blog: check it out!

http://appalachiantrials.com/author/maggie-wallace/

 


 

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