Day 18- 9.9 miles from Arrastre Trail Camp (256.2) to Big Bear Lake (266.1)

The tent that was near me last night is revealed to me in the light of day as Ziploc’s. He gets out of his tent and looks at me. “Come on, let’s go, get packed, move,” he says, clapping his hands at me and giving me his best intense stare.

“Hello, good morning, I’m happy to see you again, too.” I yawn.

Oldtimer is sitting at the picnic table behind me and I wave good morning and Ziploc and I give the rundown of where we’ve been since we last saw each other at Idyllwild. Then I pack partway up and join Oldtimer at the table and make the ramen I was going to have last night. I have my last half bagel with cream cheese and put the remaining glob of cream cheese in the noodle broth and stir it around. It doesn’t quite melt in well but it tastes pretty fine, tart with the lime flavor and the cream cheese.

Cody’s here and we talk and then Ziploc gets impatient and I pack and we start walking. I text Maddy to see if her and her mom are up for picking us up from the highway, since Maddy texted me this morning offering to. The trail is kind of dry and scrubby and beige, and aside from a nice, washed-out creamy view of the desert floor below there really isn’t much to look at. Ziploc and OT pass me as I stop at a small stream to fill up another liter of water. I see OT on the trail ahead occasionally as I walk.

Finally I’m up over the final rise, the heat killing me on even the gentle terrain. Someone’s left boxes of sodas and I pick up a cherry 7-up and sit down with Ziploc and OT in the shade. I text Maddy but after a while of no reply I assume she’s not looking at her phone and text her mom, Julie, and then soon enough they’re both here, pulling up in their rental car.

Maddy bounds up in clean cotton clothes her mother brought, and hugs me, and Julie comes and hugs me too. She brought cold sodas and fruit and she leaves some of them in the coolers up the trail a bit, and we all hop in the car and drop Ziploc and OT off at the Motel 6.

I don’t know where I’m staying. Julie and Maddy don’t seem to mind so I end up driving with them to their cabin and I’ll sleep on the couch tonight. Julie is awesome and it’s good to be with Maddy again, and we walk down to the lake. Maddy runs with her socks on into the muddy lake and announces the mud is up to her ankles. Julie and I try picking our way across a mud flat to get to the docks but our feet sink in. Now my shoes are engulfed in gross, sticking mud.

We sit on the dock and I stick my feet with the shoes on into the water to clean them. We walk back and I take a shower, and then head off to pick up Ziploc and OT for lunch and resupply. I get fried avocados and beer-cheese fries, and eat it all. At Von’s I wander around, my eyes wide, and pick food off the shelf even though I’m so full I don’t even want to look at any of it, much less eat anything. Maddy and I’s laundry is getting done at the laundromat and I get there just as it’s finishing washing, and I collect it and we drop Ziploc and OT off again.

Then I sit with Julie and Maddy on the porch and we talk, and I’m grateful, and I hope I get to keep hiking and hopefully Maddy will catch up with me from getting off at Onyx Summit. I sit and catch up on my blog and Maddy researches different exercises to help her hip, and we eat ice cream and strawberries and chips and salsa and later that night Maddy gets some pizza. I’m full.

I’m so grateful that I got to meet Maddy’s mom and that I didn’t have to spend another stop in Big Bear alone. Thank you so much, Julie, if you’re reading this!

My foot is a little irritated and swollen, probably from my big day yesterday, but I’ll ice and elevate it and see how it goes. Tomorrow, since Julie has to rush off to her flight back home and we don’t want to have anyone be stressed out or rushed, Julie will drop me off after breakfast tomorrow with OT and Ziploc and we’ll find a way back to trail. That way I’ll also have more time to sort my food resupply, which in all of my blog posting I forgot to do.

So busy, but so good. Goodnight.