Skywalker--Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail

Skywalker--Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail by Bill Walker

Book: Skywalker--Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail by Bill Walker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bill Walker
chatty male hikers with the memorable words, Not a Chance.
    One group of hikers packed up their backpacks every morning to head back to the trail. However, after eating the pancakes Joe Anderson cooked for everybody, somebody would always crack a beer, followed by the sounds of other beer cans being opened. The kiss of death was sitting in the black sofa that everybody labeled the vortex. The manager, Doug, who is the single most laid-back human I’ve ever had the privilege to meet and who has yet to ever be seen in public without a beer in his hand, would laugh at them and say, “You’re not going anywhere.” He was almost always right.
    By late afternoon, they would make their last lame statement, “I’m leaving after taco salad tonight.”
    Finally, after the trail-famous taco salad dinner and a few more beers, they would hoist their backpacks and head back to the Magical Forest (the Anderson’s backyard) to cowboy camp.
    Honestly though, several hikers never seemed to recover psychologically from the whole experience. To them, this was the summit of the PCT, not Mount Whitney or Forrester Pass in the Sierras, or Manning Park in Canada. Every future trail town was a letdown to them after the Andersons. They talked about it repeatedly hereafter. Some even suspiciously got lost in the desert after leaving here and called Joe and Terrie to come pick them back up.
    Joe and Terrie Anderson, themselves, have a miraculous, unequivocal love for smelly hikers, and their hostel is one of the worthwhile attractions of the PCT. Honest-to-God, I never felt so welcome anywhere besides home.

Chapter 16
    The Mojave Desert
     
    The Mojave is the most sterile and repulsive
desert I have ever seen.
    John C. Fremont
     
    Y ou can meet the damndest people in the desert. By that same line of reasoning, the Mojave should have the damndest people of all. But you had better know how to get along with them. They can play key roles.
    A 47-mile dry stretch on the PCT is broken up by one lone redoubt that hikers pass by. It is at a place called Desert Bazaar, and is also the official entry point into the Mojave Desert. I wandered up to Desert Bazaar alone in the middle of the afternoon wondering what I had just stumbled on. What greeted me was a scene out of the Wild, Wild West, including the façade of a saloon, jail, post office, and library. What is all this?
    When I saw the garage was open, I wandered in there to seek refuge from the bullying wind. Here, I met the strangest person on the entire PCT.
    “What are you at my house for?” came the question rifled at me.
    “Uh, well,” I stammered, “I was hoping to stay here tonight before heading off into the Mojave tomorrow.”
    “Where are you going to stay?” he fired back.
    “I see the RV’s,” I answered, “but it doesn’t look like I fit in the beds.”
    “Why didn’t you tell me? I’ve got a long bed in the jail,”
    “Oh, yeah. Is there anybody in there?”
    “Yeah,” he said, “some drunk has been staying in there, but I’m tired of feeding him. Tell him he can get going.”
    “Do I need a key?”
    “No, go on in there.”
    I wandered straight over into the building marked JAIL. When I looked inside the bars there was a child-sized bed with a doll in it. Score one for the owner over naïve me.
    When I got back in the garage, some cooked pasta was waiting. “You want some pasta?” he asked sharply. “Yeah, that would be great.”
    “Give me some money,” he held out his hand.
    We got that straightened out and he then offered me a bucket and salt water for soaking my feet. As I sat there eating pasta and soaking my feet I thought, this guy’s not so bad. But that’s when he moved in for the kill.
    “You know the problem with hikers,” he barked at me.
    “Where would I even begin,” I countered.
    “They don’t share their women,” he responded with great certitude. “There were two couples that had both of my RV’s rocking all night last night. And

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