Day 26: Riding the Storm Out

5/7, pct mile who knows, 0 miles.

I awoke around seven. “What are we going to do?” Sarah asked, pulling the covers off my head. She had been up for an hour , probably, and was conflicted about how we should proceed. I tried to pretend I was asleep to no avail. Sarah was clearly in the beginnings of a regret rollercoaster for having left the trail. This, I knew would not resolve itself quickly. I suggested we go into town, find some internet, and inform ourselves about the mountain forecast before we decided if we would stay or go. “Well if we wait around to leave until later today then it could start snowing and then no one will give us a ride back out. Then again, if we get a ride out then it could snow on us then we would be back in the same position.” She said. ” Also, if we need to stay in town tonight probably we should call for reservations before it fills up because a lot of people will be waiting out the storm” she mused, completing the 360. I knew the game, whatever I suggested would be immediately counter argued and it was even worse to stay silent and be accused of being unhelpful. I tried to pretend to doze off again but failed. “What do you think?” She said, setting the trap. I doubled down “let’s just get someplace where we can research the weather and then decide.” I repeated. And, if a eggs Benedict finds its way into my mouth in the process all the better , I thought. “Well if we wait to long we might not get lodging or the next storm could come and then….” I went into the restroom to pretend to poop but failed.  “Emergency! Emergency!” She shouted. Fooled, I opened the door. “What is the matter?” I asked. “I can’t find my hair tie…oh, there it is.” She said, resolving the emergency. “Should we check out now or wait till we come back to town?” She asked. “I don’t know” I replied ” whatever you want”. “Stop being unhelpful.” She said. 

We left the cabin to a dusting of snow on the road. The mountains surrounding the town were now white. At breakfast, I attempted to enjoy my eggs benidict, but failed. A lot of words were used like failure and disappointment. It all seemed very strong to me, we were not even cutting out any miles. Just waiting and going back to the same exact spot we left. Plenty of people will skip sometimes twenty miles of the trail if it seems too hard, or skip alternate routes of similar distance if they deem them inconvenient. We have not done this. It turns out we are purists. Sarah eventually talked herself into staying the next night. There was another storm coming in the afternoon. We both shared in common that we wanted to get back out. Waiting around in town is sometimes torturous. You just want to keep moving. 

We called a Day Spa on the edge of town that was offering $20 rates for hikers. They would come pick you up in town and free foot massage was included. We arranged a pick up, and headed to the library for some internet. On our way we passed by an older couple that had been at the same campsite we escaped from. They said that the conditions got even worse and that they could not stop shivering and had to use their gps system to contact someone to pick them up. An 70+ year old gentleman we had met around the same time named “Tinker” had decided to stay. “Tinker has been through worse” he had said. Tinker has a giant grey beard, and sometimes speaks in the third person. He completed the Appalachian Trail last year. This , thankfully, took the edge off Sarah’s regret, but did make us a little worried about Tinker. Especially because he had mentioned to them that he was particularly susceptible to hypothermia. I also worried about Jeremy who had decided to push on. 

Finding the library closed, we headed toward the coffee shop for some internet. Before we got there,  the bartender from the local saloon opened the door and called to us. “Hey hikers! Come in and get warm, there’s food and wifi!” We felt we had to oblige so we ordered a drink and chatted with the waitress in the empty bar while she ate her breakfast. A little while later some other hikers were walking by. “Hold on”she said rushing to open the door. “Hey Hikers!”she shouted luring in a group of five. “I like to fill my bar with hikers” she said. 

After our 10 am cocktail, we walked down to the community center where we had arrranged a pickup from the day spa. The owner of the day spas ‘s name was Novelle. As we rode to the spa she told us that she would be leaving that afternoon to accompany her mother to a graduation in Pennsylvania. Her mother was afraid to fly so they were taking the train. The free foot massage would be leaving with her. Her sister would be running the place while she was gone. “If you need anything, day or night just give me a call” she said. When we arrived, her sister, Kitty, came out of the door that separated their living quarters from the Spa. She was clad in a flannel teenage mutant ninga turtle pajama onsie. As a couple we were afforded to sleep in one of the upstairs rooms. The price was $50 each for the bed or $20 each for the floor. As I am traveling with Sarah, Norm’s daughter, we chose the floor. The bed remained unoccupied. Kitty also showed us the study, the shared living area and the bathroom. It seemed as if the day Spa had been hastily converted into a hiker hostel. There were no Spa customers to be seen nor room for Spa services that I could see. An unused jacuzzi was filled with pillows, there was a small electric sauna in the corner. These were the relics of the Spa. She paused at the bathroom. “Now, if your gonna use the toilet only toilet paper goes down here, ok” “Of course” I replied. “Because some girl that was here was flushing her wet wipes down the toilet and she says they said flushable on the package, but they aren’t. Not in Wrightwood, we are on a septic system here. So I notice there is a lot of water and I mean the floor up here is covered with it. All the way to the stairs” “She didn’t turn of the water to the toilet?” “No she didn’t know how. So I run up here and through the toilet water, luckily it wasn’t, you know, it was clean then I shut  off the valve. ” We got the plumber out here and he had to replace all the toilets.” I didn’t quite understand that last part, but I didn’t ask follow ups and promised only to flush toilet paper. “Later she (meaning the toilet destroyer) put up signs all over the bathrooms saying don’t flush wet wipes.” Kitty said. I was imagining how awfully embarrassing this must have been as I signed the guest book: shamefully making signs about how you clogged the toilet. That was going to make a trail name for sure. I flipped back to see if any hikers I knew had stopped by here. Kitty grabbed the guest book out of my hand. “There’s personal information in here! ” she said. We met some other hikers in the shared living space. All were older men. They had left the trail from all points before and near Wrightwood. The storm they said had reached as far down the trail as the town Mt Laguna, at mile 40. There it had snowed four inches. Trail towns all over must have been swelled with hikers avoiding the unexpected snow. As I was the youngest I was tasked with attempting to fix the satellite tv which was malfunctioning, I failed. Later in the evening a new hiker, a woman called Bevmo, arrived.  As Kitty was unavailable, her brother in law had showed Bevmo around. Not soon after,  as we were dining on $5 burritos made by the owners soon to be sister in law, Kitty returned. At first it threw me a little I thought she was perhaps a third sister, but then it became clear. She had put a small shoulder strap dress on over the ninja turtle pajamas and was sporting a large ill fitting wig she adjusted as she spoke. “Now, let me show you around” she said to Bevmo. Bevmo explained that she had already been given the tour. “Ok, ok, that’s fine” said Kitty. Perhaps a little hurt. “Now if you are going to use the toilet…” she proceeded, adjusting her wig. 

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