Tattoos in Week Two
In week two, I hiked from Warner Springs to Paradise Valley Cafe. I spent the second half of the week waiting out a snowstorm, like so many other hikers. Even though the stretch I cover in this post only covers 50 miles of trail, a lot happened in such a short time. Sometimes towns can be just as exciting as the trail.
Ashes, SOS, and I took our time getting packed up to leave the hotel in Warner Springs. Then we went to the restaurant for lunch and I got my trail name. Papaya had left behind his empty resupply box, and there happened to be a sticker for the Washington Trails Association on Papaya’s box. It seemed like it might still be sticky, so I peeled it off to add to my growing sticker collection on my water bottles. Thus, I am Stickers.
We went to hang out at the resource center for the afternoon until we wanted to head out. The gear trailer there was really cool. Ashes, SOS, and I hiked about five miles before making camp that night.
Today was SOS’s birthday! Ashes and I had packed out Hostess Cupcakes for her and when we woke up at 5 a.m. presented them to her and has her blow out the “candle” (aka me holding my lighter above the cupcake). Then, instead of hiking we went back to sleep for three more hours. Oops.
Finally getting a move on around 10, our goal for the day was to make it to Mike’s place in 12 miles and then night hike a few more after dinner. Apparently, a trail angel provides beer and makes pizza at his house right on trail. After a slow 12 miles I got there around 4. Mike’s place was a really fun time if not a little bit weird. I shotgunned a beer with SOS for her birthday and helped make some pizza dough for dinner. It was a good birthday celebration for sure.
Our group of six, including Ashes, SOS, Fig Bar, Dory, and Cold Fry, left around dark to get some more miles. It was a full moon, but it was so dark with clouds for the incoming rain the next day. I wasn’t feeling great after eating too much pizza and didn’t particularly enjoy the night hike, but I did it. Ashes let me sleep in her tent so I didn’t have to set up mine since I felt awful, plus the spot we found was a bit tight for six.
The wind howled all night long and we woke up to rain. I briefly contemplated staying in the tent until it stopped and just watching Netflix, but the thought faded quickly and we all packed up and left camp around 8. It was 20 miles to the Paradise Valley Cafe and that quickly became the goal. It was a long, painful 20-mile day but it was so worth it once I got my burger and milkshake and into dry clothes. The owner is so nice to pick up hikers at the trailhead and drive us over if you call.
After being wet so long we decided to hitch into Idyllwild and get a hotel room for the night. As dark approached, we needed to get a hitch for five people. The first one came easy and we sent Ashes, SOS, and Dory on their way. I waited back with another hiker, Dylan. It took awhile, but finally someone had turned around for us and even though he lived just down the road drove us all the way into town. He was a pastor and said God told him to go save us from the cold that was coming. We were so grateful for him. There were so many hikers all hanging out when we got to the hotel finally, and hung out before we all realized how late it was and went to bed well past hiker midnight (it was 10:30).
My first zero day. Game of Thrones was a top priority since the last episode had come out the night before and we had decided to be social instead. By the time Ashes, SOS, and I finished watching it was 11 and we were going to head out to do town chores. We did laundry, hit up the gear store, got some lunch, and resupplied. We kept walking past this tattoo shop and kept joking about how we should get tattoos. Soon, we weren’t actually joking anymore. SOS and I were committed and spitballing ideas of what we wanted. She wanted the dots and dashes of SOS in Morse code and I wanted a small pine tree somewhere. Except, the store ended up being closed. We were pretty bummed.
The owner from the hotel we were staying at gave us a ride back from town and we were telling him how bummed out we were about not being able to get tattoos. Then he tells us that his wife is a tattoo artist and she was the first Indian female tattoo artist. All of a sudden we have plans for her to tattoo us that night, and Ashes will get one now too! We’re all stoked. Last minute we decide to go get tacos with the guys in the room over. La Casita has $1.50 tacos on Monday nights. We had to wait awhile, but it was worth it because they were so good.
When we get back it was almost time for our tattoos! Anji, the tattoo artist, brings us down to her little studio and SOS goes first. Anji tells us about her life and how she got into tattooing in India. She told us about her move across the world to the United States and how she wants to tattoo again for a living once her daughter is older. I’m next, and it goes smoothly. I decided to get three small pine trees on the inside of my arm above my elbow. I debated on the placement for a while. It turned out so well and I’m extremely happy with it!
After SOS had gotten her tattoo she brought down her bottle of wine and it was almost gone by the time my tattoo was done. She shared some with me. Raj, the owner, had come down to watch the tattooing. He brought us more wine he happened to have leftover. Ashes was next up, and she wanted a rattlesnake on her wrist. Hers came out great too, of course. We said thank you to Anji many times and gave her a hug before we went back to our room. We talked for a while until we went to sleep.
We woke up completely unsure whether we should hike or not on this day. The weather forecast was rain and snow starting this afternoon and continuing until tomorrow night. After staying in a hotel two nights already, the expenses were definitely adding up. Everyone around us seemed torn. At first, SOS and Ashes were leaning toward hiking and I was leaning away from it. The guys in the room next door we had been hiking around were probably hiking out. We started hearing from other hikers about people who had been rescued off the mountain and those who had turned around.
Finally, we decided to stay one more night. But we were for sure hiking tomorrow. Two wet nights on trail in a row is a lot worse than just one. All the town chores were repeated, food being a top priority always. That afternoon we watched movies, drank wine, and gossiped a lot until we were all falling asleep. Even though we were bummed we couldn’t hike, we enjoyed our day in town anyway.
Finally, we left town! It took us a bit to get ourselves together in the morning and we found ourselves racing the clock to checkout time. We were sad to leave Raj and Anji, we loved our time at the Idyllwild Bunkhouse and had such a good stay there. The trail angel Grumpy took us back to Paradise Valley Cafe so we could start hiking. I was able to pick up my new shoes here as well! I like my Saucony Peregrines a lot and got the same pair again. My feet were happy to be in new shoes for sure.
Off we went from the cafe with ten or so miles in mind. By mile five, it was hailing. In another two miles, it was snowing instead. It turned the trail into a Winter Wonderland, but as the wind picked up the hiking became rough. I was ahead and stopped eight miles in and SOS and Ashes came in afterward. It was quite the experience hiking and then setting up camp in the storm. We communicated through our tents that night as it was far too cold to leave our sleeping bags for any reason. With more rain predicted for the next day, we went to bed and left decisions to be made in the morning.
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