Date: June 7 – 11, 2017
Health: Healing from shin splints.
The next morning I wake up to a strange sound. Chickens? I turn around and see four chickens surrounding Blü whose soundly asleep. They hop on top of him one by one and next go around me. I spend the next half an hour watching the chickens doing their thing around the patio and front yard.
After the chicken watching I go inside and find everyone in the kitchen eating breakfast. Rachel's husband is making us breakfast and I'm soon offered pancakes and eggs. Today's a zero day so no one is in a rush.
We spend the day chilling in, watching movies and resting. Once you stop hiking, you feel like you've been hit by a truck, every muscle in your body hurts. Funnily this all disappears when you get back on the trail, but in towns we're lazy, slow moving creatures.
My shin is still hurting badly. I don't know what to do with it. I can't go out now, and if this is shin splints, it's not going away in a day or two. I'm getting afraid that this injury is going to hinder my hike.
Everyone enjoys our stay at Tehachapi and at Rachel's so much that our one zero turns to two, and then three. We go to movies to watch the new Pirates movie, go to the farmers market, eat, rest, and enjoy our stay.
While others are getting ready to go out the next day, Rachel comes up to me and tells me not to go out with my shin. She tells me what I already know, if I hike on with my shin splints, I risk getting a stress fracture and that would most likely end my hike. She tells me that while they are going out of town with their entire family for a hike, I would be welcome to stay at the house and rest. There would be also few other hikers coming in and staying. We would be housesitting and looking after the animals and plants.
I thank Rachel for her offer but I don't want to stay and watch everyone else hike on. But that night I also have a talk with Blü and my options are quite clear: hike out with hurting shin and risk a stress fracture, or stay back and rest for few days and then get back on the trail. This makes everything pretty clear.
I decide to stay back and rest my shin. The next morning I tell Rachel that I'd like to take her up for her offer and stay back. While they are leaving, she tells me to give rides to other hikers and bring two other hikers in from trail. They are joining three of us who are staying at her place.
The next section is about 100 miles and it's going to take others around five days to complete. This, with the zeros we already took, gives me about a week of rest. That should be enough to heal.
Now I have to decide weather to stay behind my trail family, or skip to Walker Pass and meet them there. I don't like the idea of skipping, but if I stay behind, I won't catch them before the Sierras. And going to Sierra alone, or with people I don't know, is a risky move. With all the snow, you want to go in with people you trust and know. I would have to do 8 days of hiking in 3 days. I can't do that.
The snow pack in Sierra is so big this year that I want to go in with people that I trust so I have no other option than to skip a 100 mile section of the trail. This spoils my continuous footpath to Canada, but things don't always go as you want.
It's time for everyone to get back on the trail. As everyone is getting their gear ready, I feel bad. I don't like staying behind, I feel like I'm going to miss out.
Everyone gets on the truck and I drive them to the trailhead. As we approach the highway 58 trailhead, I see a lone hiker in the distance coming in. As it's a hard spot to hitch, I make a mental note to offer him a ride before I leave.
We say our goodbyes and everyone's getting ready. I notice Fyre isn't looking good, actually she's looking really really sick. After watching her for awhile, I try to tell her not to go out but she tells me she's fine. The weather is really windy and actually cold. Everyone leaves and I go and pick up the lone hiker. He introduces himself as Neon and I give him a ride back to town. It takes about 20 minutes to get back as the distance is quite long.
I drop Neon at the hotel and go get some food. Just as I'm driving back to the house my phone rings, it's Fyre. She sounds really bad and asks if I could in anyway come and pick her up from the trailhead, she's too sick to hike. I tell her absolutely and turn the car instantly around.
In about half an hour I'm back at the trailhead but no sight of Fyre. It's getting dark and the wind is really hard. I take out my headlamp and start walking down the trail. Soon I see two hikers far in the distance. As they approach it's Fyre and Blü. He wanted to make sure that Fyre got back alright. Blü fills his water bottles back up and then heads back out to the dark night.
I drive Fyre and I back to the house. She goes to sleep and pretty much spends the next three days sleeping. Good things she turned around as she was really sick.
For the next days I pretty much work as a trail angel. I give hikers rides back and forth the town and trailheads. When ever I get to either end, there's always more hikers in need of a ride. Pretty soon my phone is ringing constantly as more hikers hear that I'm giving rides and I have to start getting more organized. One of the hikers, Crumbs, who's staying at Rachel's, helps me out and drives with me for few days.
While in Tehachapi I also meet another Finnish hiker. She did a section of the PCT. It was great speaking Finnish for a while. Although speaking about the trail is a bit hard as all the terms are in English so we constantly find ourselves switching to English words.
One day I also go get two hikers who are also staying at Rachel's. I pick up Camp Counselor and Poison Ivy from the trailhead and give them a lift to the house. We spend few day hanging out.
The days go by fast and my shin is starting to feel a lot better. The shin guard that I bought for it also helps.
I keep hearing messages from the trail that it's really windy. A lot of the people I take up to the trail, I end up picking back up as they turned around due to the strong winds.
Fyre and I start to make plans on how to get back on the trail in Walker Pass.