Chapter 9: Box of Snakes

Another chapter, another 140 miles. Actually… recently finished hiking over 1,100 miles out here. Still have over 1,500 miles to go. The second half of this beast should go faster. Better terrain (after The Sierra). Better shape. Hopefully be done mid/late September.

A few stories come to mind since Chapter 8. First, deer treats. Yes, deer treats. See, I know that deer like salt blocks (as do I). I know that hiking gear can accumulate salt. That is why I am mindful of where my gear is throughout the night. Well… umm… oops.

I was packing up one morning, getting ready to begin hiking and went to get my trekking poles that I leaned against a tree the night before and they were gone. You can guess what happened. A deer thought I left it some treat sticks that night. I searched about a 100 yard radius on a mountain side for an hour. I was almost ready to give up and have poles shipped to the next town 3 days away. Then I found one pole. This was motivation to find the other. Eventually I was golden. Both poles found. My knees thanked me.

Another 80 miles and a few days later, I pass a fellow thru-hiker going the opposite direction. His name was Vlado (from Slovakia). We chatted for a good 15 minutes (hours in trail time). I was, and always am, amazed at foreigners who come to the US to hike for 5-6 months. This trail is tough enough. I can not imagine doing it in a foreign country. New language. New currency. New culture. New etiquette. Everything. Hats off to these fine folks!

As I am talking, I notice he keeps staring at a PCT lapel pin I got in Wrightwood, CA 7 weeks ago. This, along with a bandanna are kind of two souvenirs that many hikers have. He asked where I got them, we chatted about trail conditions that we are getting ready to encounter, and then he took off north, me south.

Rewind 24 hours prior, Tumbleweed asks me why I keep wearing my lapel pin where I do (on a strap) if the strap keeps bouncing against my sternum every step, every day. I told her it was a good mental exercise to endure something subtle and annoying all day, every day. (I’m weird. I know.) Then I realized I had gotten used to the pin hitting me. Exercise over.

Fast forward… I now don’t need the pin, and clearly it would mean more to Vlado than me. Problem was, I put this together after we parted ways. Fortunately, few minutes later, I pass another hiker heading north (like Vlado was). I asked if they knew him, they did. I then gave them the pin and asked to please pass it along to him. Success 🙂

Speaking of Vlado, during our conversation about trail conditions, he goes on to mention I will be encountering a “box of snakes”… I was like, “What?!”… He says, “Box… with snakes!”… He seems a little too happy about this snake box thing. I figured I’ll know it when I see it. Which was true. It was a box of “snacks”. Trail magic. His accent made “snacks” sound like “snakes”. Shew!

More trail magic happened another 40 miles up the trail. It was kind of crazy. A box struck a little too close to home.

On the lid, it states “Call your mother!”… I get it, some mom helping hikers and maybe their kid is even out here. Here’s the thing (there is always a thing)… Their handwriting was like my mom’s. It had tootsie-pops, like my mom. It had little debbie cakes, like my mom. It had a trash bag inside for trash, and the lady wrote on the trash bag, “Trash Bag”, like my mom would. Maybe I have relatives out here?

(Mom? Are you out here?!)

In terms of the trail, things are getting more tough… steeper, longer, and hotter. Should be on the north end of The Sierra (South Lake Tahoe to be exact) in a couple of weeks. Then it’s really going to get interesting.

(Back in the desert. Bleh.)

(Walking south (right to left) is ridiculous sometimes.)

Sidenote: after 3 months, things are starting to look weird out here…

(Living room.)

(Woolly mammoth.)

(Not weird. Amazing. Future 4Runner paint job.)

Well, time to hit the Post Office, get my third pair of shoes, laundry, resupply food, etc. etc. etc.

Picture dump in 3, 2, 1…

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