Most of our learning happens along the trail, but, today, we learned quite a bit about what it’s like to be in town. Big Bear is the first (of four or so) stops along the trail where we decided to buy food to resupply, instead of picking up a box that had been mailed to us. We chose this because there’s a real grocery store in Big Bear (Vons — pronounced “Safeway” to Northern Californians), so we knew we wouldn’t have to subsist on just convenience-store food.
Turns out, buying food for four days of hiking, plus getting your laundry done in a laundromat (as opposed to having a hotel that is happy to do it for you), is really, really time-consuming — especially when you have to take a bus across town to get there and back.
While we got it all done, the entire journey took many hours — the laundry is pretty straightforward (if time-consuming), but trying to figure out exactly how much food you need, make sure you’re not missing any major meals, make sure you don’t have too much nor too little, check out, and then repackage everything…that’s not easy, and it’s not fast. (Repackaging is a common thing out here: invariably a lot of food comes with bulky or heavy packaging, or comes in bulk, and dividing it up and putting it into Zip-Locs helps a lot.)
Particularly when you’re tired from pulling a twenty the day before — our first twenty; had I mentioned that? 😉 — it all turns into a day that’s actually not all that relaxing. It’s basically a somewhat-frenzied day of running errands, when what you really want to do is take a long nap, eat something, and lie around on the sofa (or in your jacuzzi tub). And, once you’re done with breakfast, laundry, bus trips, and the inevitable pack-rearranging and tweaking, you can actually end up spending the vast majority of your time doing all the stuff you have to do, rather than the stuff you want to do.
So: lesson learned. Town stops can be incredibly relaxing (the way our last two, in Julian and Idyllwild, were), or they can be somewhat frenzied and busy. We did, however, actually manage to get some downtime mid-afternoon, before dinner, and got a chance to sleep a little and relax in our wonderful, wonderful jacuzzi tub.
Best part of the day by far, though? Our friends were here! Rally and Squatchie invited us to dinner at the Azteca Grill, a local Mexican restaurant that has fish tacos for PCT hikers for only $1 each (!). It was so, so, so good to see them again — they’d come into town midday today (giving them an even busier day than we had), having been just a little ways behind us on the trail. Getting a chance to catch up and bond more with them was just wonderful. I truly hope we just keep running into them again and again on the trail — all the way to Canada, as we promised tonight. I know we’ll meet more folks along the way, but they’re wonderful people, and we both enjoy their company so, so very much.
I could’ve used a little more relaxing day today — but, still, I’m glad to be heading out on the trail again tomorrow. The wild still calls, and I’m eager to see what’s next. Our next trail segment, seventy-six miles until the next resupply, is basically flat or downhill the whole way — a great change from this last segment, which could be pretty brutal at times. Further (and proof that thoughts about food dominate a lot of a PCT hiker’s brain): we get to stop for biscuits and gravy, and donuts, tomorrow on the way out of town. Yum!