Silverwood Lake to Cajon Pass
Miles: 330 to 347 (17)
Am I in my PCT world or the Vermont world that I left behind? It’s a simple question that’s surprising difficult to answer when I first wake up in the morning. This life that I’m living is so drastically different than the one I was part of less than a month ago. I might as well have loaded myself into a spaceship and flown away to a parallel universe.
I hike the morning away, eventually descending into Cajon Pass. There’s a loud buzz on the trail about this place, because it hosts a fast food joint called McDonalds. It’s been about ten years since I dined beneath the infamous Golden Arches, something I swore I’d never do again, but the trail has a funny way of making you hungry enough to eat just about anything. I won’t bend my stance on eating meat, but those French fries… So. Tasty.
Cajon Pass is a busy multi-lane highway that moves a never-ending stream of motorists from here to there. The McDonalds dining room that PCT hikers get so excited about is bustling with hungry travelers that have no idea who we are, what we’re doing, or why we can eat so many greasy burgers and potato sticks. A few dozen of us are here, dirty and smelly, our grimey packs spilling gear out onto the floor. The looks we receive are priceless–I imagine that we look like a pack of happy, homeless people yielding 800-dollar smartphones.
I procrastinate for a few hours, give the AhWe Tribe time to catch up. I haven’t seen them since we had a paper lunch and I camped beneath Rainbow Bridge. When they arrive, Demetre is limping, another shinsplint victim, and Mah says she will be skipping the next section of trail, 30 miles or so. This desert stuff is beating everyone up, I think to myself. I watch Nicky Chafe swallow five cheeseburgers, then Andy and I venture out into the sun, ahead of the others. The trail leads us through a long metal tunnel beneath the highway. We stop midway, have a smoke, and exchange ideas about the insanity of what we’re doing, what we’re attempting to accomplish. We’re going to hike 2,655 miles, through the mountains, from Mexico to Canada. We’re going to drop out from society for half of a year. We’re going to have an incomprehensible experience.