Before leaving Julian, I stopped by the bookstore where Don, the owner, had picked out several books for me to read while I hike. He chose “The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, which was one of the first movies I saw when I moved to the states from Russia and therefore very special (how did he know?) He also gave me “The Sea-Wolf” by Jack London, and told me to pick out a third book by Max Brand (he knows I like those old western dime novels). I took the first two and mailed one ahead for when I’m done reading the other. We then snapped a photo of the two of us. I look a little too happy, but what can I say, I love books! And I will carry the extra weight without a problem if it provides me with some great entertainment during breaks.
Also, before hobbling out of Julian on my limpy foot, a fellow hiker named Roscoe bandaged up my foot with KT tape to help my inflamed tendon heal.
The rest of my trail family later pampered the hell out of me. My hiking partner, Vanilla, came up with this set up so that I could elevate and ice my foot at the same time, and when I ordered a burger, Chrissy from Carmen’s brought it directly to the parking lot where I sat on my plastic icy throne.
But the pampering didn’t stop there. The next evening, I hiked out of Julian. My foot didn’t feel too terrible, and I hiked on with my amazing (and also hurting) trail family who didn’t travel at too fast of a pace. We battled crazy winds and found a campsite where tents went flying all night until we finally gave up and cowboy camped (slept on a tarp in our sleeping bags). That night, my foot underwent a lot of sudden sharp stabbing pains that kept me up a good portion or the night. The next morning, I had to nearly drag my foot behind me for the 13 miles we hiked to get halfway to the next town. Every step hurt.
So the day after that, when we had 15 miles to go, my trail family all waited for me at a meeting spot near the entrance to the trail and all volunteered to carry some of my weight to lighten my load and, consequently, reduce some of the pressure on my foot. They all took a pound or two of my belongings and I was left with a pack that weighed about 10lbs (compared to the 31-33lbs I would have carried otherwise!), and then we reconvened in the evening and I got everything back. We all enjoyed each other’s company as we camped together and sat around a bonfire until late at night, and the next morning, headed to Warner Springs.
My trail family is the best group of people in the world. Here we are, with aching backs and shoulders, throwing out every extra ounce to lighten our loads, and they volunteer to carry whole pounds for me. OdeeO and Roscoe with their multitude of blisters, and FireStarter and Sunday with their hurting knees, and everyone hiked ahead of me with pretty much everything but my food and water. I love them all so much. Better people are hard to find. And we know each other for less than two weeks! It’s amazing how fond we’ve become of each other and the things we’re willing to do to help one another out. It’s truly beautiful.