Day 66: Drakesbad and the Red Umbrella People

PCT mile 1347.5 6-27-17, 22 miles

A little more than midway through the day we crossed a bridge over a large creek and stopped on the other side to eat and for Sarah to soak her feet. For several days her toes had reverted back to the desert days and were getting painfully swollen after a few hours. The morning had been uneventful with the exception of our encounter with a weekend car camper and his puppy Killer. I had took notice of the camper, Mike, I think, half a mile before I saw him. He was blasting a Pandora station I assume to be called Matt McCormick’s Brief Country Phase From the Nineties. When I saw him he was visible rocking out to Border Town by Brooke and Dunn. He seemed way too young for this. Killer immediately fell in love with Sarah and protected her from me by barking in my face any time I approached. She playfully ran around Sarah and occasionally leapt at her face to gently bite and lick. A few hours later, by the creek, we remarked how we had seen no other hikers that day. Immediately after, two different groups came out of the woods and over the bridge to join us for lunch. The first was a group of two, a couple who spoke to no one and avoided eye contact.  I will call them Chatty and Friendly. Next, we saw Grams and Joe Dirt. They were hiking with Scoops and a man called Valley Girl who was wearing a poorly improvised, very short kilt. In the traditional Scottish manner, he wore nothing underneath. A fact we were made aware of as he crossed the bridge above us. “Don’t look up.” Joe Dirt cautioned. There were two actual girls hiking with them as well: A-Game and Gusher. Gusher said something to the effect of “If you’re hiking with me then you better get used to seeing me naked. ” She then removed her shirt and bra and went down to the river to swim and then sunbathe on a log in the water where I had planned to collect water to filter. We sat around for a while talking about rapper movies. Except for Friendly and Chatty, who said nothing and looked at no one. I was of the opinion that the only good rapper movies were Boys in the Hood and Friday. Unless you count ironically good, in which case Trapped in the Closet is the best. It is really just R Kelly being confronted with the fact that there is diversity in the world and him reacting to that diversity with the threat of violence. It’s a musical, really. Friendly and Chatty had no input on the matter. I would occasionally cast a glance over to the log, purely to see if it was safe to collect water mind you. The conversation sequed to the guest lodge that was a few miles ahead. The information we had was spotty. It seemed there were hour long intervals when meals were available. No one was quite sure on the times, though. In addition there was a rumor that hikers had to eat after the lodge guests. We did know that a soak in the hotsprings was included with the price of a meal but it seemed that the pool hours were also only for an hour. It was confusing. We made some jokes about how we would be treated when we arrived. Someone suggested that we would have to eat leftovers directly off the plates of the rich dinner guests. Someone else imagined they would sit on a platform above us and throw down scraps which we would fight over. Perhaps they would place bets. I wager $1000 on the spotted one. He is undersized but has good vigor! We all had a good laugh at this absurdity, except the quiet couple who filtered water in silence. I glanced back over to the log. Only to check if the area was clear for water collection though. No other reason. We arrived at Drakesbad at around 530 and walked into the dining area to procure a meal and a soak. The waitress/hostess didn’t know how to handle the situation. She visibley recoiled from, I am guessing, my scent or overall appearance. “I’m new here…you can buy a meal but I can’t explain…your going to have to talk to the manager but he isn’t here….you’ll have to wait outside. ” she sputtered, shooing me out the door and nervously eyeing the dinner guest to make sure they weren’t too inconvenienced. The manager eventually showed up and explained the process. Hikers could begin gathering at the outdoor table with the green umbrella at 7. It had space for six and was situated as far away as possible from the red awning people who were beginning to gather to pretentiously sip wine. The hiker overflow would have to sit out of sight on the ground near the dumpsters in the parking lot. With the purchase of our meal we could use the hotspring pool. But only from 530 to 7. These were, coincidentally, the exact diner hours for the red umbrella folks. The meal and soak was $20 each.  We took showers and then swam in the hot pool for about 30 minutes, which was all the time we had before 7.  The showers were amazing. Private, clean, hot. They had a changing bench and were made of stone tile. It was the best shower I had in several weeks. I met Sarah at the pool which, by design, was abandoned, floating on a discarded pool toy in her underwear. We were lucky enough to procure a spot at the non dumpster site and sat talking with two other couples while we waited for the last red umbrella person to leave. There was a Germa couple, Tobie and Tabia, and a couple from San Francisco with whom we forgot to exchange names. The wait was an hour and a half.  I joked a little about the caste system we had found ourselves in. The San Franciscan woman, suffering from some sort of Stockholm Syndrome, had identified with her overlords and was anxious to rebuff any comment I made by trying to rationalize their behavior. Seconds ago she had been chased off a red umbrella table by a hawkish woman who may have been the proprietor of this segregated establishment. Now she was on their side. It was odd. Undeterred , I,  some might say heroically, pushed on. With the real people off to their cabins to play parcheesi and watch dressage or whatever, it was time for the hiker trash to dine. The wait staff cleared one of the red umbrella tables, and served us the leftovers they would have ordinarily thrown in the trash. There was just enough lasagna for the twelve of us there. Though two of us would have to eat the vegetarian lasagna. For desert there was the corn dogs and fish strips the children didn’t want. Our stomachs half full, we were our way to a nearby campground and hastily got into bed. It was almost 10. 

Fellow Hiker Trash under the green umbrella

A reasonable crossing for once

Sarah and Killer

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