Making and Losing Friends on the Pacific Crest Trail
It's easy to meet people on the PCT—but not all of them stick around.
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After passing the 300-mile mark yesterday evening, I’m in a particularly good mood, and looking for friends to share that with. But the trail is a fickle mistress, particularly towards the beginning of a thru-hike, and trail friends have a tendency to disappear on you as the hiker herd begins to thin out.
The detours certainly didn’t help matters any. For the first closure, between the Pines to Palms highway and Idyllwild, some people hitched, some people took the official or Halfmile detour, some people roadwalked the entire way. Most folks were able to reconnect in Idyllwild, but not all. Then, once we survived the storm and made it to Ziggy and the Bear’s place, those wonderful trail angels arranged rides or bus station shuttles to Big Bear for those who didn’t want to risk walking the second closure.
Me, I walked to the Whitewater Preserve – the last place a car can grab you before the closure – and along with a few others was whisked away to Onyx Summit, the end of the closure, so I could walk the 14 miles into Big Bear. Hiking those extra miles put space between me and my shuttling friends, though—I haven’t seen them since mile 210.8, and I don’t know that I’ll see them again.
On the other hand, the trail giveth as much as it taketh away. I’m rolling along with a bunch of other hikers that are quite literally more my speed, getting to know them as we soak in the on-trail Deep Creek Hot Springs, leapfrog on the landscape-contouring trail, and stop for bonk breaks when we’re running out of fuel. The McDonald’s just 4/10ths of a mile off-trail at mile 343, in particular, is on everyone’s mind today—and I’m hoping to maybe, just maybe, see some old familiar faces there.