What Mike’s Is All About: Comfort, Food, Conversation

It doesn’t take much to please a thru-hiker. In fact, I would say most hikers out here are simply ecstatic with the prospect of reliable water. Imagine walking in 80-degree heat, finishing out a 20-mile day on rationed water, and seeing a sign saying “Welcome Class of 2018’” next to some water tanks. After filling our Smartwater bottles and offering a donation via a cute, antiquated mailbox, my buddies Kevin, Riff, and I sauntered down to a hiker wonderland. An orange, green, and white parachute was stretched out from the roof of a modest-sized house to create ample shade. Two hammocks were set up underneath along with a plethora of chairs, and all the while reggae music played on. A cooking station was set up adjacent to the house encompassing the looks of a wood-fired pizza grill. “Hey guys, I’m Off Trail. Soda is in the cooler over there,” said a friendly face in a poncho. My mouth watered at the thought of a carbonated beverage. Funnily enough, I avoid soda in the real world, but on trail I crave the sugar.

After setting up my tent and downing two grape sodas, I ventured over to Off Trail, the caretaker, for some insight. When asked what Mike’s was all about, he replied, “Well, he kind of inherited you guys. When Mike bought the place, he didn’t know about the PCT and Mike is not a hiker. … He figured it out and one barbecue turned into two and then it turned into this whole animal right here.”

Off Trail had just finished making some delicious cheese pizza. Lucky for me, I was front and center for a slice.

Why be a caretaker at Mikes? What’s your favorite part?

Off Trail replied, “Living completely off the grid. And for three months I meet awesome hikers from all over the world.” Off Trail has been doing this for four years, and I can only imagine the amazing people he’s gotten to meet. Mike and his caretakers have been doing trail magic for PCT hikers since 2002 and know what hikers like: water, pizza, soda, and good conversation. So far, my night at Mike’s has been my favorite night on trail. Surrounded by friends, reliable water, and the option of pizza made for a great night.

When I asked Off Trail if he had any advice for hikers, he simply replied, “Don’t die.”

Other updates: I feel like I can officially say I have a tramily (trail family). I’ve been hiking on and off with ten or so people since days one and two. Still no trail name for me, but I gave the name Organic to a friend of mine. Can you guess what kinds of food he carries?

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