I first met Cruise, when I rescued a group of hikers who bailed out of the Sierra at Saddleback Trailhead, just outside of Bishop, CA. Due to extreme conditions in the Sierra, a large group of hikers decided to take the thirteen-mile trail out to safety. The Pacific Crest Trail is his first thru-hike and he explained to me that he got his name for his consistent hiking pace. He can hike long days but his pace seems to always stay the same regardless of the terrain. Wanting to give time for the snow to melt, Cruise was game for some off trail time and attended a recent mini road-trip to Yosemite National Park and Big Sur along with me, Darwin, Bowie and another hiker. He shared with me many stories of his travels abroad and has to be one of the most laid back and considerate hikers I have met.
I heard about Tang before I actually met her; she is Foxtrot’s cousin (another hiker previously mentioned in my blog) and hiking the PCT solo. I officially met her at Kennedy Meadows briefly while taking her and few other hikers back to the trail. I saw her again at the dreaded Saddleback Trailhead with the “Bail Out Crew”. Tang spent some time in Bishop, CA and I was able to get to know her a little more. Taking on her first thru-hike, she is one incredibly tough cookie. Any of the guys who had hiked with her had nothing but amazing things to say, as she would out hike several of them. I was shown pictures of her crawling over a snowfield and postholed up to her waist in snow. I could only think of how much of a wiener I was; I would have given up and cried myself into a frozen human popsicle. I enjoyed her laugh and firecracker personality.
Tang was taking some time off the trail to allow the Sierra snow to melt only to find out some foot swelling was actually a fractured foot. She had been hiking for almost a week or more with a fractured foot! Just more proof of what a badass she is. A lady who has no issues rolling with the boys, Tang is a great inspiration for all solo female hikers.
I had the pleasure of being introduced to Vicious during my time at Kennedy Meadows. Dawned in a purple hiking shirt, purple hat, and short shorts, I watched him hike into late morning horizon when I took him and a few other hikers back to the trail. Our next meeting was at the dreaded Saddleback Trailhead. Vicious is anything but, which makes his name somehow fitting.
We swapped stories of our past “hospitality” woes and giggled about random encounters we have had working at hotel front desks. A comic relief in any situation, Vicious was the second hiker that attended our mini road-trip and provided fits of laughter often. He is sadly not returning to the PCT to seek out another form of something. I only hope he finds what he is looking for. In the short time I was able to spend with him, I have laughed more than I have in a long while.
Austin and Makayla had previously been hiking with Bean-Dip and Moonshine and I first met them in Kennedy Meadows. I saw them again in Lone Pine, CA as Austin was one of the many hikers who entertained me with the packing of his and Makayla’s bear canisters. A younger married couple having met while in the service, they have together taken on the PCT. I enjoyed listening to their trail stories; Austin the early riser and Makayla the exact opposite causes for some interesting trail routines. Their thoughts on hiking seem to differ but hiking the PCT together does not.
After leaving them in Lone Pine, CA I saw them a week later along with Bean-Dip and Moonshine on a return trip with some of the bailout crew. The four had also turned around and hiked out due to the weather via another trail. I listened to their plans to flip-up several hundred miles and my heart hurt. It will be awhile before I seem again and part of me wished I were hiking the PCT with them.
(Bean-Dip & Moonshine; Hiker Camp; Darwin, Vicious and Cruise at Saddleback)
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