Started out late to the trail, as the earliest ride I could arrange with a trail angel was 4:00pm. I could have hitched, but that’s a crapshoot from where I was in Mojave to the trailhead location I had to get back to. So I used the day to load videos, post updates, consolidate my gear and stretch & hydrate myself.
George, the trail angel who picked me up, was fantastic. He stopped by a store to see if they had more fuel for my stove, totally going above & beyond the call of duty, and dropped me off at K-Mart in Tehachapi, where I was going to look for fuel. Finding a ride to the trailhead would be easier from there as well, he said. Was he ever right! As I was getting out of his truck, there was apparently a conversation a few feet away from me, having to do with whether or not I was a homeless ‘bum’ or not. Apparently, I look the part now! The conversation was taking place between my future trail angels, Kourtnee & Brandi. They were conducting a poll and obtaining signatures just outside the K-Mart, and had their table all set up. They decided I wasn’t homeless because my pack was too nice. (hear that, Dan?).. They offered to watch my things while I went inside to look for fuel, and ended up driving me all over the greater metropolitan Tehachapi area looking for the right fuel. After failing each time, we decided Sonic was a consolation destination, as Kourtnee is pregnant and was craving food. Being a thru-hiker, I’m always craving food, just without the tummy bulge. They ended up dropping me off at the trailhead, and really enjoyed being trail angels for the first time. It was fun conversation, and they weren’t aware of the PCT, or the little subculture of the trail, so it was fun filling them in on that side of things. As soon as we arrived at the trailhead, a group of 3 hikers emerged from the hills, looking for a ride into Tehachapi. The ladies first day of being trail angels wasn’t over yet! I hadn’t met this group before, and it consisted of Tang, Ticks, and anothers’ whose trail name I can’t remember, but I laughed hard when I heard it, it was great!
I walked maybe 3 or so miles, and made camp in a pretty flat spot. Unfortunately, there were a lot of very social cows who loved conversing with each other…as well as ants. A lot of ants. And as I found out when I got up in the middle of the night to take care of some business, ants with large pinchers. With my name on them, apparently. I reached out of my bug proof bivy, and got bit, withdrawing my hand back to the safety of the bivy…and transporting about 15-20 of them back into the bivy. I turned on my headlamp, and I assessed my situation: my shoes were two lumps of ants, in the rough shape of shoes; they were all over my pack, my tyvek ground sheet…and I could see them on the outside AND inside of my food bags. Shoot. And now they had infiltrated my one (formerly) antless sanctuary and were literally a pain in my butt, as well as legs, arms, hands, feet, etc. I went into an effective self-preservation mode: first, I immediately placed a jihad on every any that was currently in my bivy or on me. The rest that were on my shoes & bags would get theirs in the morning. Second, I carried out the jihad, and zipped myself back into my bivy, after taking care of my original business. Third, I waited for the eventual bites of those I missed. I missed three, apparently, and they were very creative in their hiding and biting spots. To the ants I killed, I feel nothing but happiness in your demise. I hate you, and I hate your ants face. (“Waiting For Guffman” allusion there ) I smiled as I fell back to sleep in the ant-laden cow pasture, safe in my bug-proof bivy.