Just as the lights go out for the night, I ask, "does anyone mind if I play harmonica?"
The room of five others remains silent until Jade inquires, "I can't tell if you're serious?"
I push further by saying, "yeah actually I'm trying to teach myself how to play."
At that point we all share in a laugh and go to bed.
The six of us were sharing a motel room in Wrightwood on Friday night. On one bed was Jade and Joe from England. On the other bed was Ken from England who I'd not met before. On the folding bed was Shadow from Holland. On the couch was Stefan from Germany. And on the chair, and later floor, was me.
I arrived to Wrightwood a day after these folks via the infrequently traveled Acorn Trail. The town was booked, but having gone through the fire closure with these folks I knew they'd be close. So I shot Shadow and Stefan a message and lucked out.
The Acorn Trail is a local trail that connects the PCT down the mountain to Wrightwood over 2.7 miles. Most thru-hikers hikers push on to the road in 6 miles and hitch a ride to Wrightwood and then hitch back again.
The Acorn Trail, which descends about 1,500 feet over 2 miles, got me to down in a little over an hour. Before I knew it, after a week of solo hiking, I was reunited with Chilli Cheese Dog (a thru-hiker) at the local Mexican restaurant.
That should give you a sense of how the social network operates out here, an ebb and flow of someone familiar, someone new.
Since everybody I'd mentioned had been here a day earlier, they weren't up for much drinking, so I brought my beer with me to the pizza shop for dinner.
Friday night's beer was actually malt liquor. Beggars can't be choosers. My college friend and go-to group chat participant, Kyle Dean, gave me an explicit request for "something shitty".
My first thought was those big 40s we'd drink in college, which is apparently a semi international sensation. When I pulled the Cobra out of the bag, Ken (from England) made a remark about "Edward Cobra Hands" (in America that's Edward 40 Hands), a play on the movie Edward Scissors hands. College kids duct tape a 40 oz malt liquor to each hand and can't take the bottles off til their done (because college isn't real life).
No duct tape was involved this time, just a paper bag.
Visiting Kyle on St. Patrick's Day weekend has become an annual tradition. The first three years out of college were two trips to D.C and one to New York. This year was his new city, Chicago. But I had to leave a early to do non-alcohol related illness.
Because this Cobra cost me like $3, the cheapest by unit and volume. I'll surprise Kyle with another shitty beer along the way.
As for the trail, I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon. I road walked from Wrightwood back to the trail on Saturday to keep the continous footsteps going from Mexico. Six PCT miles were replaced with at least six alternate miles.
I'll summit Mt. Baden Powell before day's end (9,407 feet).
PCT Mile 374.