Saturday, May 5, 2012

5 May - Day 15 - Shin Splinto de Mayo in Idyllwild

Fobes Ranch Trail Junction (Mile 166.5) to Saddle Junction (179.4).

Total trail miles: 12.9. Total miles hiked: 15.4

Hi, Sean here. After hiking for some miles, we paused and Chuck and Chris were washing, scrubbing, with chill-chilly water from the mountain stream, and putting on less-dirty clothes, above the mountain town of Idyllwild. I was miserable and immobile a few feet away, wondering how the hell I was going to hike down the steep 2.5 miles of Devil's Slide Trail to where restaurants, hot showers, and beds awaited. Two days earlier I had popped a shin splint in the left leg ... I can remember the exact step when it happened. Now with each step it had gotten to a point where it felt like someone was doing a spinal tap on my tibia with a blunt letter opener (ultra mixed metaphor, I know). According to stuff I had read, a shin splint can take something like 2-3 weeks to mend but needing rest & recuperation. Long distance hikers, however, as a rule hike on through the pain -- and they get over shin splints (as long as it isn't a really severe case). But while painful this shouldn't do more damage. The odd thing is that my leg hurts more going down a slope than up -- a most unjust circumstance in the cosmology of long-distance backpacking.

Then a miracle happened as Chris and Chuck tossed on our packs, and I crawled under mine, for the descent. Chuck reached into his magic bottle of Rx and took out a white tablet just for me. I swallowed it. Soon, while I had been walking with a very wobbly bowlegged gait, leaning heavily on my walking stick, ala Walter Brennan - (ask your grandparents if you don't know who that is) - now on the 2.5-mile steep go down Devil's Slide I began to walk, I began to skip, I began to dance upon the rocks, observing the beauty of Jeffrey Pines, white firs, sugar pines, the smoothness of the trail, and how nice the passing day-hikers smelled. (I was tempted to lick one who smelled like a pina colada ...)

More trail magic was waiting at the bottom. A group of 2011 thru-hikers--Quake, Hold, and Push--had parked their white pickup at the trailhead and were handing out beer to 2012 thrubies. We paused and talked with them about town food, pushing past trail aches and pains, the barely understandable joy of doing the PCT--the Rx plus a Coors making me considerably more gregarious than normal. This was followed by the arrival of Mo, a septuagenarian local who had recently married her lesbian partner and who has makes a habit of being a trail angel, driving long-distance hikers the last couple of miles to local motels. The 3 Gay Caballeros helped her break her record for number of deliveries in a day-- 19 and counting. (Thank you, Mo!)

She took us to the Apple Blossom Inn, a lovely gay-owned rooms-with-kitchenettes place less than a block from downtown. After cleaning up and shaving our necks, the guys walked (I Walter-Brennaned) out to the Mexican restaurant called Arrecita's and drank Margaritas made with agave wine, and hate heartily, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

I dedicate this blog entry to the American pharmaceutical industry ... :-)

Chris and Sean in the snow fields above Idyllwild.

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