Day 6 - The kindness of Strangers - 11 miles
When I wake it's misty and damp with condensation layers my sleeping bag. Animals such rabbits and chipmunks scurry around. I get up at 6 am, hang my sleeping bag from the tree and wander down to the petrol station. If it is closed I'm hoping the helpful lady the trio talked of yesterday comes in to help hikers again. The petrol station is only a mile away and without my pack on it's great! It's a bit foggy still and the odd car speeds by giving me a wide birth. I hear yelping yowls ahead and see a coyote skirt the road, It's large ears twist up and he clocks me. I marvel at the sight of the mammal having never seen one before. then in an instant he's gone.
I walk on and fine the petrol station and golf park - which offered meals including breakfast, both closed but due to open for business soon! Darn~! The first instance of my book failing me due to it being published 3 years ago. I desperately needed to refuel. I walk back and wait for the others to wake and the center to open - which it doesn't. One of the girls checks her guide and says that there is a decent resupply shop about 9 miles from here, she gives it a quick call and they're open. I pack up and trio call a dial-a-bus service for a ride in Julian, a nearby town.
So off I go. I begin walking in the mid morning heat and reach the golf course again. I see a man emerge from the fog with a energetic little dog. We cross paths and he starts a conversation with me; about the trail, that I'm from England and the fact that I'm again to go walk 9 miles to the shop. I bid goodbye and walk on. I find a shaded patch under a tree and attempt to hitch hike. I'm pretty nervous as I've never hitchhiked before but people do this on the trail so I'll give it a go. Unfortunately every second person is on a bike as it's the bank holiday so I won't be getting a hitch off a biker and every car that drives by doesn't want to know. After ten minutes I'm a bit dishearten but still wiggle my thumb hopefully at everyone. Then I see a large white land-rover type vehicle slow. I look to the drivers side which is on the wrong side as it's an American car and see a small black dog sitting there, I look the actual driver and see the waving at me. I can't believe my luck! I wave back and rush over.
"Toss your pack in the back and get in the front" David says, he directs Duchess his dog into the back and allows me into the front seat. Duchess immediately climbs over and sits herself on my lap, her tongue lolling out, allowing the air-con to blast over her. We speed off to the shops and talk about why I'm out here, what job I did before, what job David had - a banking related job and a bit about the UK as David had been before. We pull up and David offers to drive me back if I want. Amazing! I drive in head first, my stomach excited about the prospect of food. I end up getting 2 bags of food, all bad for me and it is definitely a bad idea to shop on an empty stomach but I didn't care. David points out the deli and I waffle and omelet combination, not something I would normally order but I was pretty ravenous.
I scout the food shelves for anything else I needed and quickly paid. I probably had too much but I didn't care FOOOOD! The ride back is swift and I prepare my thank you speech in my head when David drives passed by drop off point and asks if I'd like to come in and have dinner with him. I pause, slightly hesitant. -and my wife he finished.
Amazing! I accept and David turns down a street lined with fancy houses. We pulls into a drive with an electronic gate and we scoot up the drive way. The house looks like it belongs in the Flintstones movie; large and white, deceiving in size. We pull up round the back and park up. A woman who must be David's wife appears. She wearing a cap with the New Zealand emblem on it and removes gardening gloves to great me. they welcome me inside and it feels like I've walked into an episode of cribs (when celebrities invite camera crews to check out their homes also known as cribs). Their living room, kitchen and dining room is open plan so it feels huge. There is a baby grand piano in one corner and an enormous fire in the other corner - I could have fit inside. Olivia, David's wife recommends that I sit on their balcony. It's in the shade but it's that hot it's nice and cool. I sit at a large table to eat my waffle and she brings out a pot of English tea! Followed by home-made pizza and fresh berries! They let me sit alone and I can't believe what has just happened to be honest. Once I'm done we chat briefly and they ask if I'd like to join them for lunch - Salmon salad?
Yes Please! - Olivia then asks if I'd like to use the guest shower.
I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. She shows me their amazing twin bed guest room complete with en-suite, Wifi, and kettle with a selection of hot drink. They leave me to shower and I scrub down well. I'd never had such a welcomed shower before. I use the hotel sized soaps and wash my hair. Shame the clothes I was putting back on weren't clean but alas. I emerge a new person and help them lay the table. The meal is exceptionally pleasant as we talk of travel; all of us having been to New Zealand and various parts of Europe. The fresh salad and cool salmon made my taste buds tingle with excitement. We then move on to talking about family, life, England, America, the PCT, pets. Duchess watches me eat hopefully wishing I'd drop some her way. The time slowly creeps on and before I know it, it's 2pm. David and Olivia are heading to the gym but they drop me back on the trail. Olivia quickly tries to load me up with more goodies like apples and biscuits and comes laden with all her fruit flavoured waters to see which one I'd like to take. I'm extremely overwhelmed and graciously take one. I tag their location promising to myself to send them postcards when I could. We take a few photos and hug before I go - Myself extremely conscious of my sweaty hiker clothes.
I still can't believe my luck and pause under a bridge to collect my thoughts. I've also got to assimilate 2 bags worth of shopping into my pack. I take out my tent and carry it by hand again. After eating to night and tomorrow morning I should be able to fit it back inside. I walk on for a bit before sub-coming to the heat and hiding from the sun. I write up my morning in my journal and read my emails. Lots of tiny flies buzz around me. They are extremely annoying. I eventually walk on and make my way through the ins and outs of the trail, weaving across the crevasse of the rocky valleys. Then on the rare occasion I see another hiker. He is standing alone as I approach and seems oblivious to my presence. He appears to be of native America ascent. His name is Robyn and he has long black hair which is in pigtails. He is wearing a sleeveless and open top. His shoes appear to be hand-made sandals and don't look too comfy for long distance hiking. We chat for a bit then I hike on. The sun is beginning to sink lower over the verdant mountains, the air getting thankfully cooler as I plow on up the ascent, my bag heavy with a lot of greedy food.
I finally decided to stop in a little valley. I pierce my tin of baked beans and slowly open them disappointed to find that they've been flavoured by brown sugar... I set up my inner tent and see the bobbing head light of Robyn pace by. He waves wishing me good night, saying he is going to night hike a bit. I hadn't attempted hiking at night yet but was interested by the prospect. I watch the nights sky from the comfort of my sleeping bag and slowly drift off to sleep. It's a clear night and the pointy, crescent moon shines down on me. It's an extremely starry and I can see the plow. The land is still and I feel like the only creature for miles around.