Date: June 2, 2017
Miles: 0, hitch from Casa de Luna to Hiker Town.
Health: Feeling good and anxious to hike again. My shin keeps hurting.
Note: as my camera is still broken (see day 25), all photos here are from iPhone 7 Plus.
I first woke up at 5am. No one from our group was moving so I got back to sleep. I woke up again after six and slowly started to get up. The pancake breakfast was at 7am so I had nowhere to be before that. Sunshine, Fyre, and Blü were still sleeping.
It doesn't take me long to get my things together so I head out of the forrest and down to the house. As I get there I see Blü. I thought he was still sleeping?
As we're waiting for the pancakes we all sign our trail names on the sheets covering the front of the house. Soon the first ride goes out but no one from our group is on that.
I've decided to get a hitch to Lake Hughes, get my camera, then hike the 2.1 miles (3.4km) from the town back to the PCT.
I don't get full from the pancakes so I get my gear, fill up enough water and hike out to the small cafe in town for second breakfast. I order breakfast burrito with extra bacon. As I'm eating two older gentlemen strike up a conversation about hiking the PCT. They also wonder where I'm from due to my accent.
As I tell them about my plans to hitch to Lake Hughes, they offer me a ride. The other gentleman tells me he's going to the same direction and can give me a ride if I don't mind waiting for him to do few quick errands. I don't mind.
We hop into his car and drive around the town to do his tasks. It doesn't take us longer than ten minutes and then we're on our way. He's originally from New Zealand and we talk about how he got here and differences between the two countries. He's running the local newspaper in the area and everyone we meet seems to know him.
We drive by Lake Elisabeth, which has almost dried up, and soon arrive to Lake Hughes Post Office. I get in, show my ID and they start searching for my package. There's only a handful of packages and I can quickly see there's no Amazon packages in the pile. The two workers spend ten minutes looking for it but can't find it. We try to search it by the tracking number but as Amazon didn't ship it with USPS, that's useless.
It's not looking good.
I call the shipping company and after a moment with the representative, they can't seem to know where the package is either. The problem is that I've shipped the package through general delivery, but that only works on USPS. And apparently using common sense is not an requirement for shipping companies, so they can't find Lake Hughes Post Office without a physical address on the box. Lake Hughes is a town small enough that if you blink while driving through, you'll miss it.
So the representative takes my number and says he'll call me back once they find my camera. So now I start thinking where I can send the camera next as I'm going to be leaving the town right away. Even if they would find it, it's Friday and the post office won't be open until Monday. And now I can't get on trail before I hear back from the shipping company and can give them the new address where to ship my camera. I start counting days and miles. Will it make it to Tehachapi? That's 4-5 days, but only two business days. Lake Isabella? That's over a week away.
As I'm doing all this in my head, the gentleman who gave me the ride has been patiently waiting and offers to drive me a little ways down the trail. As I can't get on the trail right away and lose cell reception, getting a bit ahead and then waiting for others and the call sounds like a good plan.
We start driving and stop by at a small grocery store so I can do my resupply. We drive down few minutes and then we pull up on the road, we're at Hiker Town. I'm two days ahead of everyone else. One problem at a time, first I need to locate my camera. So I get into Hiker Town and just wait for the call.
Hiker Town is a, how should I put this, a place with a lot of character. What that character is, I'm not sure, but it's definitely unique. Bob, the caretaker of the place, shows me around and I find a lounge area where to chill. It's really hot outside already as we're on the desert floor.
After few hours my phone rings and it's the delivery company. They plainly inform me that they've lost my package and that they're going to look for it for 8 days and get back to me. Great!
I call Amazon, explain the situation and they offer to refund me immediately. I accept. As this is happening I realize that there's a larger city of Lancaster not far away and they have two Walmart's. Walmart has a camera department. A quick call and the lady at the other end confirms they don't have the camera I'm looking for. But I have better luck with the second Walmart. Now I just need a ride there.
Hiker called Papa Homie is going the same way so we first take a ride to Neenack market and then hitch a ride to Lancaster from there. A lovely lady who picked us up takes us all the way to the Walmart. I head to the camera department while Papa Homie does his thing.
As I reach the camera department I can quickly tell we're at the wrong Walmart. We forgot to specify which Walmart we were going. Dang. After Papa Homie finishes his shopping we take Uber to the second Walmart.
I run in and go directly to the camera department. No luck, again. They don't have the camera here either. I've come all the way here so I really want to find the camera. I ask around a little bit and there's a Best Buy in town close by.
Another Uber drive later we arrive at the Best Buy and there at the camera department I see my camera. One MasterCard swipe later I'm holding a working camera again in my hands. I feel so relieved.
As we get out we notice the Five Guys restaurant opposite the Best Buy and as we're quite hungry, decide to do a quick pit stop. I devour over 3,000 calories in under 20 minutes. That's a great thru-hiker lunch.
We take another Uber to get back to Hiker Town. On the way we stop at Neenack to buy some beer and snacks for the evening.
As we get back to Hiker Town, few other familiar hikers have hiked in but not anyone from our trail family. I'm pretty beat so after few beers I crawl into the old trailer where I'm sleeping tonight and go to bed. It's hard to sleep as it's so hot.