Cajon Pass McDonalds Causes Spontaneous McSharts

I knew things were going to go downhill after my order number was 666 at the Cajon Pass McDonald’s. But I didn’t know quite how downhill. Until…

The Cursed Creek

Before we even got to Cajon Pass, Lovechild and I traversed through Mission Creek. Some friends of mine skipped past it, saying “There’s no point in doing that washed out section.” I don’t think I processed the meaning of “washed out” after I talked to them. I was thinking, this is the desert! How can anything be washed out?!

Well, it was washed out. I found scraps of trail — around forty feet long — before it was severed by a cavernous riverbed. I felt swallowed up by the huge grey walls of rock. And inexplicably excited. The trail was so messed up! It thrilled me. Smooth rocks ground below my trail runners. It reminded me of the rugged sections of trail on the AT in Pennsylvania with a twist — there were no blazes at all and the trail was literally just a riverbed. Very free form! Very California!

The next day, Lovechild pushed on ahead slightly and I hiked with my friends Emma and Georgia for a few hours. We were confused by the next section of riverbed — thinking the trail had to have picked back up by now. An older man started following us. I told him he could go ahead since he seemed to be faster, and then he said we seemed to know the way, so he wanted to follow us instead. We promptly got lost. The older guy pushed ahead, not trusting our sense of direction any longer (I didn’t even trust it myself.)

Eventually we escaped the cursed creek. Not only was it entirely washed out — it also may or may not have been infected with norovirus. Throughout this trying time, I mixed up my water bottles between the dirty ones and the filtered ones. In my infinite wisdom, I had put the same Enlightened Equipment sticker on both water bottles — not thinking at all about how it might get confusing. Luckily — the creek must not have had noro in it since I escaped the section without shitting my brains out.

666 and the McShits

Until I got to the McDonald’s. I selected my order from the ordering machines, changing it about five times before I settled on a meal that would be my downfall. Three McGriddles and one McBiscuit. My order number was 666. Great. I sat at the tables in McDonalds, emotionally exhausted. I had just spent the morning scream crying down the mountain. I was overtired and underfed. My Achilles were stiff and aching. I couldn’t do much more than hobble. They would be better the next day — but they hurt like hell then.

I poured out my food bag onto the bench to see how many snacks I needed for the next few miles. Five earwigs wriggled out from underneath some uneaten tuna packets. I started laughing. My friend Necktie, sitting next to me, said in his UK accent, “Are those… earwigs???” while my other friend, Analog, looked on in horror. Lovechild chuckled from the other side of the table, having seen plenty of my shenanigans. The earwigs crawled into the crack in between the chair and the wall, never to be seen again…

After we left the McDonald’s, Lovechild smelled my McGriddle farts up the entire next mountain. Every time I released gas it filled the air with the aroma of a sweet McGriddle. He groaned behind me. “You make me want to never eat a McGriddle again!! And those are my favorite!!” He sighed.

As we approached Wrightwood (my new favorite town on the PCT because it has an amazing garden center — Mountain Hardware — and really cool pins) I realized I could not move any farther or I was going to release some very negative energy into my pants. I sprinted off trail, grabbed some nearby snow (instead of TP) and filled up an entire cat hole with a rough time. This happened once more that day, a few hours later. The McDonald’s was taking a vengeance on me for infesting it with earwigs. I had… the McShits.

Trash Lake

An even more depressing time occurred at Silverwood Lake around mile 326. This was the saddest section of trail I’d encountered. Trash was wedged underneath bushes — entire fuel canisters, beer cans, water shoes, takeout containers — you name it.

Lovechild and I went down to what had seemed like a beautiful beach from trail, only to find it littered with trash bags, plastic scraps and crumpled cans. Waste peppered the shoreline like sad seashells — discarded from boats or ignorant hands weeks, months or even years ago. A bird pecked at some bits of plastic as the wake receded. There was a bunny that was half shredded surrounded by a halo of trash. I sat down — not hungry for lunch anymore.

I’d seen so many beautiful views on this trail. Fields of untouched chaparral desert. Lizards sunning themselves on rocks. Even a golden eagle soaring above our camp one night. None of this trash made any sense to me. How could we be so horrible to a planet that has done nothing but provide us with beauty and a home? How could we disrespect her like this — when she is awesome far beyond anything we could possibly comprehend?

Not a single one of us can save the planet. Honestly, on my second summer spent entirely outside — I can say the climate is changing — not for the better. Anyone with eyes can tell things are changing. However, every single one of us can do small things to help out. Pack out trash when you see it, even if it’s a scrap of a wrapper. It could be there for years without you. Try to carpool or bike to work. Hell, walk across the country for a few months. Be mindful of how much you consume. Recycle. Eat vegetarian every once in a while. These things might not seem like they make much of a difference — but that lake might be clean by now if every hiker (thru hiker, day hiker, lake-goer) picked up a tiny piece of trash. These words are my tiny thing for the day to give back to a planet that’s given me so much. I hope you find a way to honor her too.

Moving in Together

Even after witnessing me almost poop myself, Lovechild decided he still wanted us to share a shelter. My Mcfarts had not scarred him for life just yet. This would be the first time we officially moved in together — on trail and in real life. On the AT, we both met around 700 miles, so we just carried our own shelters. We started this trail doing the same, but missed sleeping next to each other like we would most nights in shelters.

Photo credits to Cleopatra 🙂

We sat on top of the only mountain around that had service and looked through tents on Garage Grown Gear. We had a tight budget but didn’t want something super heavy. This was going to be a near impossible find.

But! Lovechild found the Bonfus Middus Innernet 2P tent for only $299 — and it was only 11.8 ounces!!!! It was unheard of in the thru-hiker community. We were incredulous we hadn’t seen more advertising about this tent. Why didn’t everyone have a super cheap lightweight tent?! It was a no brainer. A sign it had to happen.

Photo credits to Mel (@melr99)

I cleared the other old items out of Lovechild’s cart, placed the order for Agua Dulce and grinned. “Oh my god!! We have a tent together!! Ahhhh!!!!” I whisper celebrated with him.


“Wait… did you check how far Agua Dulce was from us?” I asked.
“Um… nooo?”

That was when I actually decided to crunch the numbers on when we would get to Agua Dulce. I put my head in my hands. It was in 46 miles. That was in the next two days. We’d be there well before the tent would get there. I rechecked the order.

“Wait… did you mean to order the one person tent?”
“Um… nooo?”

Thus began the process of cancelling the order. We decided to curb our excitement and just wait until morning to order any tents to anymore incorrect locations. The next morning Lovechild came and sat in my vestibule. He seemed a bit crestfallen.

“So… you know how the tent was super cheap?”
“And it was like 11.8 ounces?”
“Well… it’s not actually a tent… it’s just the ‘innernet’ of the tent… like the INNER… NET.”
“We’re both really dumb.”
“At least we’re dumb together.”

So we got the Gossamer Gear Twinn Tarp instead. It was 9.7 ounces and $104 with the Trek’s discount — so only $52 each. It would take more skill to set up and we’d have to wear bug nets until we found bug bivys — but we both wanted to learn how to use a tarp in our next step towards being ultralight girlbosses. This time, we ordered it to Hikertown so we could actually get it in time — and committed to cowboy camping for a week until we got there. We’re excited for the challenge. I couldn’t imagine a better way to move in with a partner.

Moments of Serendipity

I find the moments that I most want to quit the PCT are between bubbles. I never realized how much I valued the connections I made with people on trail until I realized some of my happiest times on trail were simply walking and talking with friends — new and old — as we hiked up and down mountains.

On the third day Lovechild and I started and finished without seeing any hikers, I didn’t want to keep going. I trudged my way up mountains. I stopped in the middle of trail and proclaimed, “I hate this. I don’t want to do it anymore.” He stood in front of me, unsure of what to say. We kept walking anyway.

That night as we arrived at the shelter, we came across four other hikers we thought were way ahead of us. I was thrilled! Cleopatra, Necktie, Slowdown, Analog — all so much closer than I had thought. We all sat in a circle, exchanging new and old stories and eating an assortment of ramen and potatoes as the sun tucked itself away in between the pines and mountains. I didn’t know how I ever had wanted to leave this beautiful place. Sometimes, the trail provides what you need in the times you need it. For me, that’s a reminder of the value of human connection. As the Grateful Dead said: Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

The next day, I walked with my friend Necktie up the side of another shrub speckled mountain, we talked about the lucky moments of a thru-hike. How you go through extreme amounts of strife and difficulty just for those few moments when everything aligns with the right people in the right place at the right time. Glimpses into serendipity.

Moments like walking through a hundred ladybugs drifting past in the golden light of a desert sunset. Sitting in a circle with hiker friends on an assortment of rocks and sitpads underneath a sky of pine branches. Laughing in the back of a hitch that almost pulled away from my friend as she was getting in. Pointing out heart rocks to Lovechild as we walked. Letting bees crawl across my fingertips as I got water and observing the fuzz on their backs. Sitting in the hot springs with Lovechild as tadpoles nibbled at our knees. Finding friends when I felt lonely. Finding reasons to keep going when I didn’t want to. Watching the sunrise as I walked and set as I pitched my tent. Life was simple and I was happy.

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Comments 6

  • Chris Cosby (swampWolf) : Jun 5th

    Best Blog…Ever 😂 hilarious yet real at the Same time! You guys are awesome. Watch the mcsharts 😂

  • thetentman : Jun 5th

    Thank you for all your nice writing and fantastic pics.

    Good luck.


    • thetentman : Jun 11th

      PS. I hope you have a long strange trip.

  • NoName : Jun 6th

    Best one yet!

  • Paul : Jun 7th

    Excellent prose, especially your trail names..haa
    Goin back to read more. Have a gud 1..

  • jhony : Jun 7th

    Are you shitting me? Deserts have washouts frequently. And they are very dangerous. They can even happen up in the mountains and wash out down on the desert floor. I have seen this in the Mojave and Saudi deserts.


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