Mile 71 - 80 | Julian and two neros.
We bounced down the trail dreaming of breakfast! In less than 7 miles and a hitch, we’ll be in town! Eggs eggs eggs! I’M HAVING EGGS FOR BREAKFAST TODAY! I shouted loud and giddy, Claire and I set off ahead of the guys and we were practically running. The trail was the flattest it has been for a very long time!
We got to Scissors crossing and hopped straight onto the road to try and score a hitch. Just as we got there a group of hikers got a hitch, that gave us hope. There were two girls from Philadelphia that we had briefly met earlier, we felt bad turning up as a 5 piece - it is harder to hitchhike with more people!
The boys tried to stay back to make it look like it was just us girls trying to get a ride. I was cautiously hopeful, but the Philadelphia girls had been waiting 20 mins already! Quite a few people waved and looked sympathetic but no one stopped, not for the next half an hour anyway. Then like magic an old looking camper pulled up and they shouted across to us asking if we were hikers and if we needed a lift! Yes! Yes please!!
Lucky Ned and Julie crammed all 6 of us in, picked up Pyro who had started walking towards town and even stopped to pick up Dan (the van man) who had made it a few miles down the highway! Off we chugged, all 8 of us into their van Golden girl, they weren’t even going to Julian!
It’s only been a week and we’ve experienced such kindness! Everyone who passed us either smiled or said hello in the street, us, yucky smelly hikers and they still wanted to say hi!
We took Ned and Julie’s emails addresses and said our goodbyes before heading off in search of breakfast!
Oh my goodness, American breakfasts are something else! The menu was huge and we poured over it going back and forth between all the choices. I ended up with a fried egg croissant which came with chunky chips!! In fact most breakfast items come with chips! Is this normal? It was fantastic that’s for sure!
There were all sorts of cooing noises of happy hikers eating as we thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast feasts. I took a moment to glance round and the restaurant/cafe had old western decor and barbed wire round the ceiling, they also sold an assortment of shot glasses shaped like little boots and candles in jars that smelt lovely. The waitresses were jovial and very quick to offer refills on the coffee!
We took our time and enjoyed each other’s company before peeling ourselves away in search of the hotel i had booked. Just before though, Claire’s mum had searched for Julian and found they had a live stream of their little high street, naturally we all wandered up to it and waved!
It was a cute little old mining town, you could tell it was a tourist attraction, it had a lot of charm.
We checked into Julian lodge bed & breakfast for $149 for a double double room (two double beds) between the 4 of us and asked if they would mind if Pyro could stay on the floor. The lady on the front desk was so kind and so helpful, she got Pyro a camp bed and offered us breakfast even before we’d stayed the night! They even gave us extra shampoo! We took it in turns to clean our grubby skin then we ran the bath, rinsed our mucky clothes and left them to sit in the bath.
It was Miles’s birthday so he found a brewery he wanted to go that had a games room. We played a game where you throw washers into holes but made up most the rules, we also ended up cutting it down to first to 10 points because we were so bad at it! I think I won! We headed inside for an intense two rounds of darts. Miles taught us an elimination game where you played round robin and tried to either reach a high score or knock someone else down to zero by getting their score!
We headed back to the hotel to wring out our clothes and hang them to dry, we had to get a bit creative with the trekking poles as there were so many socks!
Now time for the second brewery as we had heard the pizza was really good. Claire and I shared a 4 cheese pizza, it did not disappoint!! There were long tables with benches in the pizza place and right by the door were some familiar faces, Christopher Robin and a South African couple we met at breakfast at Mt Laguna! We joined them and their friends, it was such a fun atmosphere! We had all been through very similar weeks and we were so thankful of this town break! Some were taking zeros which means one day of no hiking with two nights off and others were neroing overnight like us, walking less than 10 miles in a day. We met Cricket and her boyfriend, she was called Cricket by her dad for her whole life so decided to bring that name on trail, we met Dan who had Chili fries for breakfast in Mt Laguna and The Chairman, an older Dutch guy we met at Scout and Frodo’s. The Chairman told us he got his name because he tells everyone what to do and no one listens but Dan informed is it was because he carried a camp chair!
I didn’t sleep as well as I’d hoped In the first bed I’d been in a week, partially because I was sharing it with Claire and I’m always conscious of how much I move and the chorus of snoring between the boys! Regardless of the night, i felt rested and happy! Breakfast was lovely and simple, there were two huge fruit trays and the biggest strawberries I’d ever seen!
We spent the day exploring the town, there are two main grocery shops. One next to Moms Pie which has loads of tuna packet choices and some really bizarre snickers, I got salty and sweet and almond snickers! The other shop on the corner has a big PCT Hikers Welcome and it a fantastic resupply shop with loads of choice of sweet and carby hiker food.
We found that we all have been craving sweets so we saught our the Candy Bucket. It’s hidden in a little two story arcade and run by a lovely older lady. The sweets are In actual buckets and you can pick and mix or choose from a huge verify of international sweets! It was like being a child again on a Friday running around Jammin (a Dutch sweet shop) with 1 Guilder spending money - I’m showing my age! After spending ages exclaiming at pretty much every bucket we made our decisions, I went with pear jellybeans after all that!
Our clothes still hadn’t dried so we brought them into the room and turned the heating on before going for lunch. We went to Soups and Such on the recommendation of the lady at Julian Lodge. I had a salmon burger with crisps and avocado! So yum!
The hotel room at this point was sweltering and our clothes still weren’t dry fully, the smell was something else. We had no choice though but the attach the wettest to the back of our packs and put the rest on. We were allowed to leave our heavy food filled backpacks at the reception in a store cupboard and head out for Mom’s Pie.
Julian is so hiker friendly that if you go to Mom’s Pie with your permit, you can have a free slice of pie and a hot drink! That is so unbelievably kind, so do try and buy even more Pie when you’re there to help support them! I would have paid lots for the boisenberry pie I had, YUM!
If you go into the Cider mill they’ll give you a free drink (of non acohlic cider) and a small packet of chocolate covered pretzels. It also is a really good shop to buy trial mix from as they have a huge assortment of nuts and dried fruit. I bought a postcard and a nut mix with walnuts, dried pineapple, nuts and sesame seed snaps!
On our way into Mom’s Pie we ran into Twerk who hiked the PCT last year and launched a Hiker Trash Vogue project. He is an incredibly talented photographer and what started as fun photo shoots with his fellow hikers has now turned into a book that he’s getting published! Have a look here! I say we ran into him but really we accidentally ambushed him at the door as it was so exciting to meet someone who we’d been following on their journey the previous year!
Twerk graciously invited us to sit with him, we chatted about his experiences on trail and he shared all sorts of brutal but necessary honesty about the trail, one of the reasons I had followed his journey on Instagram last year. The main take away was if the forest goes quiet, it’s most definitely because there’s a mountain lion…
We ended up having our pictures taken by Twerk accross the road in front of some scaffolding. It was really interesting being directed by him as I’d say I’m pretty awkward when it comes to photos. That’s not me being coy, but part of learning to accept how I look. I tend to play it off by joking about a weak jaw and chubby cheeks but really I have never felt photogenic and rarely like pictures of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I do like who I see in the mirror, I just don’t think it translates in pictures.
I am finding that I’m slowly liking more of my photos from on the trail because I love the circumstances of the photos, like these and this experience shared with Twerk and my good friends! It is a slow process but I am learning. I do really love these photos!
The afternoon rolled round and it was time to get back on the trail. We popped by the post office to send our postcards and walked up to the corner by the car park to try and hitchhike back to the trial, we were recommended this spot as the best to get hitches!
Again there was a big group of us with the same idea, 5 squeezed into one car but they left one guy from their group behind. He somehow managed then to hail an Uber (?!!) who was on its way to Cochella (a music festival). The boys got in with him and Claire and I stuck our thumbs out and looked hopeful.
It didn’t take long at all for us to get picked up with another couple in a pickup truck, the guy had moved to town recently and had met some hikers the week before at the brewery so he knew all about the trail!
We stocked up on water for a long stretch over the next day and a half between water sources and began our climb back up and round the mountains.