The helicopter flew over us all morning.
They yelled out "Alfonzo", but the silence was startling. There was no answer.
The San Bernardino Sheriff's Office searched for a missing hiker who called them at 5:30 the night before. He told the 911 operator he was stuck on a ledge, didn't know where, but heard water.
That same night before, we climbed back down Mt. San Jacinto after a two hour ascend. Jake, David and I couldn't feel our hands any longer. Rain poured on us and wind ripped into our sides. The conditions so bad, it was as though God was playing a joke. All we could do was laugh as precipitation kept pounding harder. Our clothes, despite rain gear, soaked to our bones.
"Are you going to Idllywild?" she asked, pulling up next to me in her Nissan truck. I waved down Joan Sugino on the side of Highway 74 in California. My second time to hitch hike in one week. My second time to hitch hike in my whole life.
David, Jake and I just finished hiking 25 miles for the day--- climbing 900 feet, descending 2,000, then up 1,000 feet.
As she rummaged through my pack during "pack shakedown", Mary found a HEAVY small black bag with the turquoise Rustic Cuff logo on the front. Mary questioned "what in the world is this!?" I promptly demanded, "there's no way we are sending that home!" She opened up the jewelry bag to find stacks of silver and gold bracelets, each one with an individual saying.
Mary completed 1600 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail last year. Everyone earns a trail name, her's is Pillsbury. Since childhood, Pillsbury loved the baking icon, so she traveled with a mini Pillsbury dough-boy key chain on her pack. Mary didn't complete the entire PCT after numerous hurdles like: appendicitis, a spider bite, dog bite, debilitating foot injuries, and the final straw-- someone stole all her gear in October.
Our days start when the sun rises and end when the sun sets. There's no alarm startling me in the morning nor TV zapping me out before bed. This is just the way I like it, the way we are truly meant to live.
I get up at 6:00 am and we start hiking by 7:30. We find a flat spot to camp by 6:00 pm, set up our own tents, eat dinner and I'm asleep by 8:00.
One night I stayed up to perform surgery on my feet. Those dime-size blisters constantly rubbed against my former hiking boots and became a mountain on my toes to tackle, just like the mountains I tackled during the day to cause this.
I fetched the first-aid kit, sterilized the Leatherman with alcohol swabs, and cut a slit in each one. If you just poke a hole in a blister, the water fills back up.
"Something came calling and I knew this time I had to go... Heading towards the canyon, I abandon everything I own" the lyrics blasted through my headphones as I climbed 2,800 feet up a mountain near the Mexico border.
The song California by Jamestown Revival is pivotal in my story. I dreamt of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, then one night in December, I found this song. After making David listen to it, he said "okay, we're doing this." The lyrics completed us and pushed us to complete our dream.
It was day three of the PCT. My knees were taped, the arches of my feet taped, most of my toes individually taped from dime-size blisters, and my neck and shoulders spazzing from the 40 pound pack on my back. The silver lining here, I finally got rid of the voice inside my head questioning "what the hell am I doing!?"