Day 30 | mile 651.3 | going home

There was some kind of commotion all night at this campsite. It was pretty close to a major road, and there were cars/people coming and going. Finally woke up when it was light at 5:00.

A car had pulled up. It was an older guy. He came over to my cowboy camp and asked if I was a PCT hiker. "Yeah, kind of? I'm getting off the trail." I said. He said that he could give me a ride to Lake Isabella. I quickly packed, left a note for Mary-Ann and Phil (the trail angels in the RV), and got in his car. His wife was sleeping up front.

Lake Isabella is almost 40 miles west of Walker Pass. We were chatting in the car. I found out he got off the trail at Tehachapi, and was going back there. He was only at Walker Pass to cache some food/water for himself. He didn't want to carry all the food he needed from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows. Smart. His wife drove from San Diego to trail angel for him.

Since he was going through Bakersfield on the way to Tehachapi, I asked if they would drop me off there. That worked out really well. We were driving alongside Kern River for a while. It's crazy how much water there is in Kern River considering the dry stretch of trail I had just come out from.

I kept losing reception on the windy drive. I would get a batch of texts from Alex. He was trying to figure out whether I should rent a car or take a bus. Alex ended up reserving a car for me at the Meadows Field Airport.

The nice hiker and his wife dropped me off at the airport. I hobbled out to the rental car area. It was so strange to see so many clean, non-smelly people. The rental car counters weren't open for another 15 minutes. But there was a flushing bathroom and running water in the bathroom! 

I washed my hands and face 2-3 times. I realized I was a little lazy with sunscreen yesterday because a) I was in pain; b) it was cold and windy. My cheeks and nose looked a little red.

It was surreal to think I would be home later today. I kept second-guessing myself. Was it a bad idea to get off the trail completely? Would I come back? But at the same time it felt so right. I was sure my leg wouldn't heal in 24 hours. And spending more time than that in a town would feel awful. It's really hard to get around in town. At home I would have support. I kept thinking about posting up on our L couch - my feet elevated on the back of it, my head on Alex's lap, cats on me, catching up on TV I've missed. (It turned out to be all that and more :)

My daydream was rudely interrupted by a rental car representative telling me my debit card (which I carry instead of my credit card because it's lighter #ultralight) wouldn't work. He was sorry, but it's company policy. They wouldn't take my credit card information. They needed the physical card there. I could try Hertz next door.

Hertz took my debit card no problem. It was also $113.58 instead of $72 it would've been at Budget. Ugh. Oh, well. 

I took my newfound painless transportation and drove straight to the nearest McDonalds. :) So hungry. I would've gotten a McDouble (+ mayo), but they were only serving breakfast. Breakfast burrito, bacon egg and cheese biscuit, hash brown, and coffee. YES.

The drive was really quick. I blinked and turned onto 152 Pacheco Pass. Soon I was returning the car at San Jose airport and realizing I forgot to fill it up.

Vova and my mom met me at the airport. My mom thought I would be hungry so she brought me buckwheat and salmon and an orange. I ate the orange and drank a bunch of water. Vova drove me to my apartment. I was home at 1.

The apartment was so nice and clean. I couldn't even sit down without getting trail dirt all over. 

Long shower. I had to triple-wash my legs and feet. I laughed out loud when I used the body wash pump and this bright blue liquid came out smelling very strongly of old spice. It's usually a clear, very herby smelling soap. Alex wasn't expecting me back so soon. :)

Alex and I looked up recipes for dinner. I would be lying if I said the presence of the Instant Pot didn't factor into my decision to come home. We had been eyeing it forever, and I got the email alert that it went on sale while I was on the trail. Alex pulled the trigger but hadn't used it yet. It was killing me! I wanted to get my grubby hands on it so bad. We settled on a chicken curry. It felt so nice to use a knife again. (Minced a lot of ginger and garlic.)

Electric toothbrush. Mmm. Passed out at 10.