Day 19: Chickens in cities

Big Bear City.

Logistics! Random town logistics! And also a bit of a come-to-Jesus look at the rest of the hike.

I was in the grocery store this morning, kind of laughing at my gimpery and wondering if anybody’s ever finished a long trail with a walker–or those canes with the four little feet. I’m willing to endure a lot of trail suffering–but I have to be able to walk at a normal, rolling gait, even if it’s a slow one. I see the young gazelle hikers just skip along, taking pain-free walking for granted in the same way we take our water abundance for granted back home, passing me, passing me, passing me, and gone around the next bend forever–I can’t help the little envious spider that whispers its strange bitter sadness in my ear–or a hint of it, anyway. I know I also had my skipping-gazelle time when I took walking for granted, when I wasted steps thoughtlessly like I waste water now, like I waste oxygen. And I know those gazelle skippers will come to their own painful lameness all too soon. So I’m not really feeling very negative about it. I’m grateful to be out here and very much aware of the blessings I have. But as a pragmatist and a realist, there are things that have to be reasoned and considered with open eyes.

I was talking to Huddles this morning, a 68-year-old female hiker who’s also moving slowly. She asked if I’d hurt my knee, and I said it was already bad from martial arts, and it’s just not holding up under the strain. And she immediately nodded her head and said that yup, her son had had all sorts of knee issues because of aikido. Hah! Same martial art. At this point, I wish I could trade in those two dusty black belts for two fresh knees. πŸ™‚ Anyway, that was a nice coincidence, and a little validation.

Huddles is awesome. She’s a Californian who’s going to scatter her parents’ ashes in the Sierra.

If I can get to Tahoe, I might call it there. If I get my trail legs and the walking becomes easier, I’ll keep going. At Tahoe, I’ll know how many miles short I’ll be–or a good estimate, anyway. And rather than just going north until I’m out of time because of snow in Washington, I might jump ahead and do Washington. That would leave me with the flattest, easiest terrain to do later when I won’t have trail legs anymore. That is, if I’m going to be 500 miles short anyway, I may as well be strategic about which miles those are.

But we’ll see. I’m still playing with weights and measures and drugs and braces and stretching. I might still change out my pack, or even my shoes. There’s a lot of experimentation still to do, and in the meantime, I’m heading north as though Canada is still possible. I’m currently being passed by the 4/25ers, but even then, the prediction is that there’s going to be a huge bottleneck at Kennedy Meadows this year. We’re all still in the mix–even the lame goats.



There’s absolutely nothing in Big Bear City! It’s an intersection. πŸ˜€ All the action is a couple of miles away in Big Bear Lake. Luckily there’s a cheap bus that stops right at the Motel 6! So this morning I trundled down to the big Von’s supermarket for my resupply. I got a whole chicken and some potato salad for today and breakfast, and a Starbucks because it was there, and now I’m back here figuring stuff out in my hiker-crazy motel room. And eating chicken, which is yummy and cheap. Thank you, chicken!

Happy Mother’s Day, you mothers!

The next leg to Wrightwod is the first long leg. As Danger Muffin said, it’s been training wheels up to now. But that’s for first-time hikers. It may be a different trail, but I know how to handle a hundred-mile resupply, give or take. And there’s a legendary McDonald’s in a few days where I’ll load up on grease and calories. Fun times, when the McDonald’s at Wrightwood is a big highlight! πŸ˜€

I’ve got six days of food, and I’m trying to really trim weight there. I have to be willing to be a little hungrier and a little more bored. (Some of my snacking is from relentless boredom, and because of the snakes and the wind, I can’t really listen to music yet. And I’ve already thought all my thoughts, so I can’t wring anymore introspection out of walking. So I limp along and think Buddhist thoughts–like, the grass really isn’t greener anywhere else, so relax and just be with the grass that’s here, even if it feels like sucky grass. All the grass is just grass.)

I could save a pound if I bought new clothes that fit me. But I begrudge the cash, when I’ll only be fat again later! These are the dilemmas of a long-distance hiker.

There are two Bourbons on the trail. (Thru-hikers are notorious partiers. Sometimes all they talk about is beer. But I’ve been clean and sober one day at a time for 15 years, so I avoid the party talk and the actual partying like somebody with a peanut allergy avoids a Skippy factory. I sometimes really wish I could stumble on other sober people on the trail, but I only met one on the whole AT and none here yet. There are a few out there that I know of, but we’re scattered with days and days of walking between us. But that’s an aside!) So, one of the Bourbons let me try a couple of his ibuprofens for comparison with my Aleves. He was funny. He has his vitamin I prepackaged in little one-week baggies, just like actual vitamins. I don’t know whether to be amused or appalled. πŸ˜€ But I thought the ibuprofen helped a little more than the naproxen, so I got a little bottle of those to try on this next leg. I also got a 1-ounce tube of capsaicin, because that’s helped some before. We’ll see.

Other tweaks: I’m changing out three of my 1-liter bottles for two 1.5-liter bottles. It’ll make water treatment a little clumsier, but I’m hoping it’ll pack better.

What else? Nothing, I don’t think. I’m in the process of arranging a ride back to the trailhead–saving knee use where I can. Huddles and I might split a cab.

I had a nice chat with a guy at the bus stop who did the PCT 35 years ago. He’s lived here forever, but he was originally from Colorado. Is there anybody in California who didn’t come here from somewhere else?

I wasn’t going to bother with laundry, but I was here and the machine was here and my toxic socks were here, et voila. Did I mention that at the last minute I tossed my down booties into the pack, and that they’ve been fantastic? That was a good call.

Can the hiker news get any more mundane? πŸ™‚ Just another reason they call it a zero.


19 thoughts on “Day 19: Chickens in cities

  1. Typical hiker motel room πŸ˜‰ Chicken! I thought you lived on hamburgers out there.

    I’m sure hoping everything works out. I was taking 1,600 mg of vitamin I coming off Mt. Madison. That’s a max allowable dosage. My knees almost forced me to tears. Zeros, rest, slack packing and a nine-day wedding side trip finally resolved the issue. Hope you don’t have to go there, that is unless it’s your wedding. Sending you the best vibes I’ve got.


  2. Love your writing style and following your hike. “I’ve already thought all my thoughts” is priceless.

    Good luck with the knee pain! Have you tried carrying a little less water and using those water caches more? You mentioned earlier you only want to depend on the caches if you really need them, but carrying a few extra pounds on average could really make a difference for your knees. So maybe you need them. =) Water is heavy! I’ve always had better luck with ibuprofen compared to naproxen as well. Just seems to do its thing with a bit more urgency.


    • That’s great advice about the water caches! I’m going to try to pay better attention to them–and to water in general. I think you’re totally on point about the relationship between water weight and knee hell, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loving your daily thoughts, Karma! For what it’s worth, on my long a** section hike in 2014, I hiked to Sierra City and skipped ahead to do Washington in August — and had absolutely fantastic weather, WA is gorgeous! It’d probably be easier to jump off trail at I-80/Truckee or South Lake Tahoe however.


  4. I hope the goin gets easier for you. It makes me think of all the things we take for granted. Chickens, rides to places, walking, walking without limping, clean clothes, being pain free for a moment in time. Text me if there is anything you need that I can mail forward to you somewhere. I am finished with my crutches. ( Just a thought ). Haha


  5. Stick with 15 yrs. You can get pain relief with tylenol and ibuprofen. One day at a time. I am enjoying v posts wish Ihad energy to reply Cousin Eileen


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