Bath Tub Laundry
Feeling Spoiled After One Week
After completing the first week on the trail, I was approaching the inaugural town on the PCT – Julian, CA. Entrenched within a growing bubble of hikers, some of whom would later become my trail family, I anticipated the welcoming atmosphere of this town. Julian offered appealing advantages for tired hikers, featuring a complimentary slice of pie upon presenting your PCT Permit, an outfitter to tend to any equipment concerns, and a variety of food and beverage choices. The town’s offerings left me feeling indulged and appreciative. While the initial week presented its challenges, especially in adapting to the daily hiking routine, the unexpected highlights like Tacos & Beer Trail Magic on Day Three and the support encountered in places like Lake Morena on Day Two and Mt. Laguna on Day Four gave the impression of a somewhat supported journey. However, this served as a gentle introduction to what lay ahead.
If Only Town Day Meant an Easy Day
Waking up this morning with only 6 miles left to cover was invigorating. Having cowboy camped the night before, I was up and ready by 6:30 am, eager to hit the trail. While providing water for Zeus from my hydro flask, I accidentally knocked it over, resulting in the loss of over half a liter of water. Since there were no more water supply points between my current location and Julian, I had to carefully ration the remaining water I had. Despite the minor setback, I broke camp promptly, accompanied by Zeus sporting his hiking boots. He was in high spirits, pulling me in various directions with boundless energy. A brief interruption occurred when Zeus needed a poop break, and I had to bury his waste as fellow hikers passed by. Consequently, I found myself at the back of the hiking line once again.
Saved by The Hiking Couple, M&M
Anticipating the day’s heat, the plan was to reach the road by 9:30 am to secure a hitch into town. The trail presented challenges with its steep and rocky terrain as it wound around the hills, feeling relentless. By 8 am, the sun’s intensity was already noticeable, especially knowing we had to traverse a dry stretch before reaching the highway. The main group forged ahead, leaving me behind. Running dangerously low on water—only a quarter liter—I encountered M&M, descending the trail. Their kindness shone through as they offered me a liter of water, which I filtered for Zeus, and he eagerly drank it all. In these initial days, I felt fortunate to have crossed paths with so many wonderful people.
The Origin of my Trail Name
This was the moment when Martin attempted to give me a trail name – Atlas. The reasoning behind it was my constant companionship with Zeus and my carrying of the largest pack on the trail. It was a clever play on Greek mythology, connecting Zeus to the Titan, Atlas, and the War of the Titans. I hesitated to embrace the trail name early in my journey, preferring to allow more experiences to unfold before making such a commitment. Despite my reservations, I acknowledged that “Atlas” was a fitting choice.
As we pressed on, M&M, maintaining a quicker pace, cautioned me about a rattlesnake they had spotted approximately 50 yards ahead. Though I failed to spot it, their warning was appreciated. With the clock ticking towards 9:45 am, the heat intensified. Upon reaching the highway, we found other hikers waiting for a ride into town. A small SUV pulled over within minutes, and M&M inquired if they would accommodate a dog. The driver agreed, and graciously, M&M sacrificed their ride for Zeus. Fortunately, they were promptly picked up by the next passing car, resulting in a perfect resolution.
I Forgot What It Felt Like To Be In A Moving Vehicle
The journey into Julian proved to be quite an adventure. The sensation of car air conditioning was almost a forgotten luxury, and for Zeus, the experience of a car ride was a distant memory. In the back seat, he panted while I reassured him with pets. Concerns about his ability to endure the initial stretch of the PCT grew, given the escalating heat and the increasing distance between water sources. The trail angel, a seasoned practitioner of this benevolent role for three years, graciously picked us up. In expressing my gratitude, I acknowledged the challenge of finding someone willing to accommodate both a dog and a PCT hiker. The contrast of being back in a vehicle after seven days, coupled with the twisty mountain roads, led me to instinctively cling to the door handle to prevent myself from rolling onto the fellow hiker beside me. The adventure into Julian was an exhilarating start to the next chapter of the journey.
Walls, Floor, and a Ceiling. Oh, The Luxuries!!!
Upon reaching the Julian Lodge, I discovered that our hiking group, now numbering 10+, was definitely expanding. I’m sharing a room with three other hikers from our growing trail family. As I entered the lobby, I encountered M&M, and it was evident that the lodge was pet-friendly with a dog and some cats present. However, Zeus, exhausted from the journey, showed little interest in the other animals. In the reception area, fellow hikers were enjoying iced water and munching on apples. A bowl of fruit on the table caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist asking if it was real. I assumed it was merely a decorative piece for the table. To my delight, it was in fact real, and I eagerly devoured three oranges, relishing the taste of fresh fruit after seven days.
Did Someone Mention Free Pie!?
I was invited to Mom’s Pies, where they offer a complimentary slice of pie, a generous scoop of ice cream, and a drink, was too tempting to pass up. Trusting another group of hikers to keep an eye on Zeus, I ventured into Mom’s Pies, flashing my PCT permit to indulge in a slice of cherry pie, a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a classic coke in a glass bottle – the best kind. The lack of breakfast earlier made me devour it all. Dining outside near Zeus, I struck up conversations with friendly locals who adored the dog, enhancing my experience in this charming small town.
Taking a moment to connect with my family, I called my parents and spoke with my mom, dad, and son. Despite my mom getting emotional, she assured me that everyone back home was praying for my well-being. While waiting with Zeus, I also met other hikers, including Wiki, Powerhouse, and Kathy (whose trail name is yet to be decided). They graciously watched over Zeus. I visited the Two Foot Adventures shop briefly, searching for pants or shorts, but ended up grabbing hiking toe socks for $16 to address my blister concerns. Returning to the Julian Lodge lobby, I patiently waited until our room was ready, reflecting on the great experiences in this welcoming small town.
The hotel room turned out to have two beds and was slightly more spacious than a standard bedroom at home. With four people sharing the room, I selected a corner near the door for me and Zeus to sleep on the floor. The surreal realization hit me—I was in a hotel room, splitting it with three people I had just met. Andrew from New Zealand, Jacob from Germany, and Angry Dane from Denmark shared the space with me, adding to the diverse mix of my trail companions.
The neighboring room housed M&M, and two rooms down were the girls. Our group had grown to over 10 strong. In my newfound trail family, our camaraderie was noticeable, and the sense of connection seemed to be continually expanding.
I playfully dubbed the balcony aisle outside our door “Hikers Row” since we all found ourselves in various stages of undress or sleep clothes, engaged in laundry activities and improvising makeshift clotheslines on the balcony. It was an incredible and communal time, reinforcing the bond that had been forming over the past days, creating a sense of shared adventure and companionship.
Pizza All Day
Deciding to prioritize food before tackling personal chores, I left the hotel with the intention of returning for a shower and laundry later. Jacob and Angry Dane proposed sharing the $18 laundry cost at the lodge, but I suggested using the $1 laundry soap packet I had left over from Mt. Laguna and employing the bathtub method. They agreed since the alternative meant waiting until tomorrow to retrieve their clothes. With that settled, I headed to the Julian Beer Co and ordered three slices of pepperoni, taking advantage of their slice-by-slice ordering available from 11 am to 3 pm. Opting for a fountain drink with unlimited refills, I indulged in Brisk Iced Tea followed by two consecutive root beers. I grabbed another root beer to accompany the food and settled on the porch.
While there, I struck up a conversation with Flamethrower, a fellow hiker I had briefly met on 4/20 but hadn’t encountered since. Her trail name originated from a gas canister that nearly exploded, shooting flames about four feet high. Even when submerged in a creek, the canister continued to emit flames. Our conversation flowed, and soon Chad, whom I had met on day two at Lake Morena, approached, suggesting a ‘safety meeting,’ a discreet code for smoking some pot. Before he was ready, I chatted with a few locals, and once he returned, we walked up the road a bit and shared a joint. Needless to say, I was feeling quite relaxed. We discussed the trail, and the idea of being out here for a week seemed surreal.
Why is The Water Black!?
Returning to the hotel, I took a much-needed shower before diving into the laundry process. The transformation of the once-white cloth into a brown, dirty color was a stark reminder of just how much trail grime I had accumulated. As we initiated the laundry in the bathtub, the water quickly took on a muddy hue, reflecting the extent of our filth. We repeated the soaking process several times before introducing the laundry soap.
With the soap added, Angry Dane took the lead by stomping on the clothes to expedite the washing process. Jacob followed suit, and as the bathtub became a makeshift laundry station, more people started to gather in our room. Another hiker joined the impromptu laundry party, eagerly stepping into the bathtub and contributing to the stomping action. The water turned into a frothy mess, and the room soon became a lively scene.
Amid the laundry endeavors, Jacob attempted to coax the other hiker into taking a shot of the water for some cash, but the financial incentive wasn’t compelling enough for her. The entire spectacle created an unexpected and entertaining atmosphere in our room, making the mundane task of laundry a memorable communal experience on the trail.
Making Difficult Decisions Look Easy
I’ve reached a difficult decision to send Zeus home tomorrow. My son is graciously picking him up and bringing some supplies. With the upcoming challenge of San Jacinto and the restriction against dogs in that area, it seems like the practical choice. However, the main concern driving this decision is Zeus’s well-being, particularly in the heat. His right paw has developed a sizable blister, and the pad appears visibly damaged. I took the necessary steps to address it, cleaning the wound with antiseptic and wrapping it in athletic tape. Throughout the day, I’ve kept him in his booties to offer protection and support. It’s a tough call, but prioritizing Zeus’s health is paramount at this stage of the journey.
Pizza All Night
As the evening approached, we knew it was time to head to dinner, as it was going to be Zeus’s last night with his trail family. We made it a memorable occasion, taking pictures, sharing stories, and enjoying each other’s company with laughter and camaraderie. It was a fantastic night, filled with warmth and connection.
On the way back to the hotel, I stopped by the liquor store and picked up some brews for the room. Once we returned, our hotel room transformed into the party room, creating an atmosphere of celebration and togetherness. It was a fitting send-off for Zeus, marking the end of this chapter of the journey and celebrating the bonds formed along the trail.
A Night to Remember
The evening took a lively turn as we started hitting the weed vape, and another hiker was eagerly anticipating a local, the newfound weed connection in Julian, to show up with an eighth. This hiker had initially thought there might be a dispensary in town, but it turned out to be too far away. The anticipation heightened until the local finally arrived, and the hiker not only got weed but also scored a free beer. It seemed like the local had taken an interest in her, and we found ourselves playfully coaching her on what to say to him over text—an entertaining endeavor that added to the night’s merriment.
Despite the late hour and the fact that it was past hiker midnight (9 pm), we continued to get loud and rowdy, enjoying the camaraderie. Our conversations ranged from injuries to various topics, and laughter filled the room. The festivities carried on until around 10:30 pm, at which point we all settled in for the night. I found myself in my sleeping bag directly on the floor, content with the memories of a vibrant and memorable night with the trail family.
The People Made The Town Memorable
Despite the conveniences and comforts provided by the town’s accommodations, such as a bed, air conditioning, a vehicle, or even a toilet to sit on, the true essence of the experience lies in the company of a group of people all sharing the same adventure. This town day, alongside the individuals I journeyed with and those I encountered, not only enhanced my hiking experience but also became the cornerstone of lasting memories. While each town has its perks, the significance lies in realizing that the most cherished moments stem from the connections forged with the people I was fortunate enough to share them with.
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