Sunday, June 06, 2010

Walker Pass Ruck

I'm not sure what a 'Ruck' is supposed to be, but if this weekend's Ruck on Walker Pass was typical, it appears that it's a bunch of car campers feeding hikers and hanging out having a good time near the trail. That's where I spent the weekend.

The Man wanted to try hiking on the trail so we hiked about 4 miles round trip southbound from Walker Pass and back. The trail was full of wildflowers and the sun was very warm. His ankle was pretty sore afterward.

One of the thru-hikers at the Ruck was a nurse/paramedic and he gave The Man some advice. It seems that they tell you sprained ankles take 6 weeks to heal but the reality is closer to 8 months or more. Anyway, at one point while we were hiking The Man said to me that his feet my be dragging but his spirits were soaring. Yep, that's what the trail is like. Somehow, someday we will both be back.

We met lots of hikers. Seemed like a good many of them had already hiked the Appalachian Trail. They all seemed to be loving the PCT, except maybe for one man from England who didn't like how dusty and sandy the trail was. All the hikers were incredibly dirty. I kind of wonder if all the water caches has made them oblivious to the natural water sources available for washing up. I know if I had been one of the hikers on this fine, hot weekend at the Ruck, I would have marched immediately down to the cattle trough and washed off all the dirt, washed my hair and possibly even my clothes. It would have felt great.

I met a lot of former hikers at the Ruck. Meadow Ed said that at times at these events there can be more former hikers and support people than hikers and that was almost true for a few moments, but hikers kept trickling in and out and there always seemed to be a dozen or so. I met Yogi. Warner Springs Monty was there. He introduced me to someone else as Piper who hikes the trail every year. I had to laugh. Maybe I should think of myself that way even if all I do is a little section here and there. Might cheer me up against the painful reality that most of my time is spent staring at a computer screen behind a cubicle divider.

There was a ton of food there. We brought two big boxes full of avocados, fresh fruit and cold drinks. The avocados seemed well-received and some of them were even ripe. The infamous donuts that Switchback brought were long gone by Saturday afternoon when we arrived. The hand-cranked milkshakes were still being prepared.

The Man and I camped out next to a Joshua tree. Our Lunar Duo seemed to fill with condensation even out on this hot night in the high desert. Even though our spot appeared perfectly flat, I ended up, as usual, with about 11 inches of space and The Man's big puffy Neo Air shoved up against me, smashing me up against the trekking pole holding my side of the tent up. Will I ever have more than 11 inches of room in our tent?

I slept well enough anyway. Every time I woke up I could hear people talking in the main camp. Some of the hikers didn't go to bed until 4AM. In the morning The Man and I helped a little with breakfast and then people started packing up all the canopies and food. We packed our things and left the Pass and the nice people we had met. We took the usual long drive through the 100 degree Mojave desert, seeing no hikers anywhere to pick up, and then home to the fog. It is always sad to come home from the trail. It's like we were so close to the trail, but not close enough to make our escape.

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