Time to suck up my pride
April 22, 2014
Day 9 or is it 10? Had one of the most hair raising experiences of my life the other day. The 24 mile day few days ago really screwed up my Achilles in my right foot. Chasing a triple crowner with an 8.5lb base weight was stupid but I let my competitive side get the best of me. The damage I caused hit a whole new level when I hiked my way out of Idyllwild via “devils slide” a ~2k ft switch back trail at the far end of town that connects with the PCT. I should have kept off my feet but the idea of more zero days with time constraints made me restless. I went slow hoping to prevent more damage and things seemed okay for the first hour.
I made it to the second junction and dropped my bag to guzzle some water and snack on some turkey sticks (thanks sis) while wondering around to check the area out when I felt a small pop in my Achilles followed by some sharp pain. “Fuck” I said out loud. I tried stretching a little and some massaging but the pain continued upward. I took some extra strength Tylenol and more water then continued on being extra careful. An hour passed and the pain was still there. I can feel the Achilles vibrating when I step, a weird grinding sensation. I was coming to a junction that could send me down and back into Idyllwild on the other side of town so I sucked up my pride and decided to take it.
I tried walking weirdly to take pressure off the problem foot and it helped until pains started developing in other areas not used to the stress. On my way down I decided I would hitch hike to big bear and cut 70 miles off my trip, this would give me 3 free days to recoup a little. Made it down to a highway and stuck my thumb out and this is where things got really sketchy.
After twenty minutes or so a guy who called himself Thor pulled over and offered to take me into pine cove, a town a few miles up the highway. He referred to me as brother and was a war vet and a seemingly kind guy. He dropped me off at a gas station and I posted up for a ride into Banning, 30 miles down the highway. Another twenty minutes pass and a car pulls off, I walk up and ask where they are going, two guys in there 40s by my guess say Banning, perfect I think so I hop in. Right away things seem weird.
I ask their names and they give me bullshit responses. “Payton Manning” one responds. They ask what I’m doing and I tell them I’m backpacking the PCT, they don’t know what it is so I explain. One responds “oh those fuckers that pack fudge up in the mountains, told you we shouldn’t pickup faggots on the road”. One guy asks more questions and the other keeps referring to me as a faggot fudge packer. At this point I’m gripping the 4 inch blade in my pocket playing out possible scenarios in my head involving me defending myself. They joke about a lake coming up where they drop bodies in and part of me thinks they are just fucking with me but in a seriously fucked up way the other part of me says be ready for anything. I play their game and joke about only stabbing people in the neck, sometimes, when I hitch but not to worry, I’m a nice guy and they seem alright. All the while loosening my blade so it’ll flip out with less of a fling.
Eventually the convo drifts to more pleasant things like the amazing view driving into Banning. 25 harrowing minutes later they drop me off where I wanted to be… In the end they were just fucking around, or so I hope. Seriously though, who thinks it’s funny to fuck with someone hitching like that? What a trip.
That night I slept in a field within earshot of a major highway. Fell asleep to a calm night but woke to hurricane winds. Packed my shit and around 8am I was on Ziggy & The Bears back porch saying hello to familiar faces, Nate “Jolly” and Buddy’s parents. Buddy’s mom had to fly out of town and had arranged a ride to San Bernardino. After hearing me talk of hitching to Big Bear she said I could probably ride with her to the junction that would take me there cutting off the first leg of that journey. I liked this idea and her ride was okay with it so after lounging for an hour I was off.
Thankfully San Bernardino has a decent transit system in place and I could forgo hitching for a hopefully safer alternative, public transit. I did and by 3pm I was in my hotel room ready to finally let my ankles catch up with the stress I’ve been putting them through.
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