I sleep in to about 7:30. Why not? Today TnT want to go to Lake Hughes and stay the night there. They also have a resupply/bounce box they need to pick up. When I came back to meet up with them at Agua Dulce, I wasn’t expecting more of these elongated stays, zeroes and rides. So far, I’ve stayed longer than preferred everywhere that we have stopped, taken more rides than I ever thought I would, virtually throwing my own plans out the window. It’s costly, and I’m feeling less and less like I’m actually hiking the trail. To be fair, it has been lots of fun hanging with Texas and Tumbler, and it’s not like they’re forcing me to stay with them. But the more I’m in the group dynamic, the more I feel like I can’t continue on alone. In fact, I originally thought I would re-start in Tehachapi, but followed TnT’s plans instead. I get plagued with thoughts like: Just exactly whose hike am I hiking? And, I haven’t talked much about this, but I’ve been concerned that 1. I don’t have what it takes, or even the proper urge to thru hike the PCT and 2. That the reality is that I need a partner, like my husband Aaron, to do something of this magnitude. It’s not a good feeling, recognizing that I may be lacking the mental toughness needed to hike the PCT.
These thoughts circle in my mind this morning as we cram into Sasquatch’s clown car and head to the Rock Inn at Lake Hughes. ‘Squatch shows me how his pot vaporizer device works when he drops us off, and offers to smoke me up. I decline. Bye Sasquatch! Thank you for driving us to and fro!
We head inside. When we paid for our rooms last night (The restaurant we ate at is also the bar and the Inn), the proprietor said we could check in at 8am! Of course that’s too good to be true- the waitress today says we will have to wait until at least noon. We all order breakfast. I order bacon and eggs, and it is the best I’ve had on trail. And FIVE pieces of bacon, can ya believe it? We are enjoying ourselves, talking shit, having a good time. What was I so concerned about earlier? Who cares if it’s not what I envisioned. Right?
Tumbler is already fishing for a ride tomorrow around the road walk. A local overhears us and offers to send her husband to give us a ride. She also takes TnT to the P.O. to get their box. When they get back, we head upstairs to the “Parlor”, where we can wait for our rooms and TnT can go through their box. The Parlor is creepy. I think it is supposed to look like a sitting room from the early 1900’s, but it is old and run down, the petite sofas wilt with years of dirt and dust. Everything is white. I look down the hall. There are only about 6 rooms up here. And they all have bright RED carpet. It’s all right out of a Stephen King story. I see two doors with a stenciled boy on one and a stenciled girl on the other. “Oh no,” I say to Texas. “Communal bathrooms.” Great. There is no way I’m going to be able to take the kind of shit I need to take here. “It’s gonna be a whore’s bath tonight,” Texas jokes.
Tumbler doesn’t care about the decor, the grime, or the communal bathrooms. He wants a shower and a shave, and nothing’s gonna stop him. Then he decides to take a nap on the settee while Texas sorts their box. I run down to the only store in town to buy my food for the next stretch. Our rooms are ready when I get back. I explode my pack over any empty surface and spend a few hours napping, writing, texting.
It’s cold in here! I eye the window. Outside is a cement deck. How does one get out there? I press against a window pane, and it opens like a door. NEAT! I climb out and look around. The deck spans the width of the building, then turns a corner, where I find two picnic tables and giant ashtrays. Stairs lead down to another entrance to the bar. So, basically, I found a secret smoking area.
I meet TnT downstairs for dinner. We order too much food. I try deep fried green beans for the first time. Yummy. We have a great time hanging out and talking. Tonight I am the one drinking while TnT load up on water. Texas tells me she thinks I might not be drinking enough water, and that’s why I’m getting sick. But we discuss it more, and I drank the same amount she did yesterday. Granted, I’m much bigger than her and everyone has different water needs, but I just don’t feel sold that my issue is dehydration.
I leave TnT to finish that pile of food and head back up the stairs. I open the door, and there are about 30 locals packed into the parlour. “Oh, Hi.” I say, startled. Silence. Sad, somber eyes stare at me. “I, uh….” I stammer, “I’m sleeping in there? I mean, my room is that way. Can I come through?” I wait for like ten years for someone to give me permission to tresspass their group. Finally, a gruff male voice mutters, “Go ahead”. I say many thank you’s and sorry’s as I push my way through the town’s Narcotics Anonymous group. That meets above a bar, it must be noted.
In bed, I can’t stop staring at the window. The way it doesn’t lock. And can be accessed from downstairs outside. It’s the perfect setting for a scary story, and I write it over and over again in my head. Around midnight, I hear voices and feet stumbling along the hallway. Oh shit, here it comes, I think, hiding under my quilt. (Yes, sometimes I sleep with my quilt when in town.) I hear a body press against the door of the room next to me. “Oh yeah, baby, oh yeah,” says a male voice, sodden with lust and drink. There’s some fondling and groping and wet kissing, all clumsy, by the sound of it. Then, I guess they realize they can go IN their room for this stuff, and the sounds recede.
Too quiet, really. These walls are paper thin. I should be hearing the whole sordid mess. I mean, my mere heartbeat makes this bed squeak, so……suddenly, a door opens and a body throws itself down to the bathrooms. It’s the man. He is throwing up. Over and over. He doesn’t stop. Long after his stomach is emptied, he still hacks and coughs and spits and heaves. It’s gross and disturbing. It’s not normal how long this man vomits. For maybe an hour. Long enough for me to stop obsessing about the potential face I might see through the window. Long enough for me to lose interest in this man, his sex partner, and his preposterous vomiting capabilities. That’s right; somehow I manage to fall asleep.