The day before my best string of trail magic, I nearly cried. At Tuolumne Meadows, I hiked into Yosemite Valley in order to finish the John Muir Trail. Instead of enjoying the hike, throngs of people and a weird bus system turned the day into a stress filled ordeal and it made me just want to get out of Yosemite.
Before I could leave, mosquitoes came out and I ran out of DEET. As I ate my last meal in Yosemite, mosquitoes swarmed me so much that I had to walk as fast as I could while I ate dinner. An audience would have laughed at the sight except for any audience would have gotten swarmed also. I definitely didn't laugh. I don't think I was far from tears.
I managed to leave Yosemite behind me that evening, but mosquitoes didn't observe that boundary. Instead they stayed with me that night, and even harassed me so much around the 1,000 mile marker that I didn't have any celebration. However, not long after I climbed above the "mosquito line" and things really started to improve.
I even caught several PCT hikers leading to a memorable experience with a guy I call Grumpy Old Man. He went down a glissade right before me and I saw him reaching his arms around trying to feel the back of his backpack. He asked if everything was still there, so I told him it was.
"I can't do that with losing half my shit...and now my ass is wet."
I simply laughed at that comment and moved on. In my mind, I loved the moment because he acted like the quintessential grumpy old man.
Leaving Grumpy Old Man, it didn't take long for me to make it to Sonora Pass where I could get more food (important) and more DEET (crucial). However, when I arrived at Sonora Pass, I saw a bunch of people sitting at a picnic table and a cute girl offered for me to join them. "The Family" came to Sonora Pass to offer us hiker trash food and the cute girl was a PCT Hiker from Australia named Big Mac.
One of the trail angels said something about a lady that made the occasional run between Kennedy Meadows and Sonora Pass offering us rides. A little before I wanted to leave, two ladies pulled up offering rides. I jumped up to accept with another hiker (I can't remember his name despite the fact he told me at least three times).
I had a lot of things to do at Kennedy Meadows, but hoped to get back on trail that day. Instead, laundry took way longer than expected and I had to spend the night. I wandered around looking for the free camping, asking others where it was at, but nobody knew. However, one of the ladies who gave me the ride offered to let me sleep behind her cabin. It was one of the most comfortable nights I had on the trail.
The following morning after breakfast (I ate with Grumpy Old Man), I went back to the highway hoping to hitch an early ride up to Sonora Pass. The first car pulled over. I walked up to find two young ladies (I'm guessing early 20s) from Singapore willing to give me a ride.
Generally, tourists and especially foreigners don't give rides (definitely not to strange scruffy looking men). Young ladies are typically told not to pick up hitch hikers. Women who look as good as these two did (I would believe they were models if someone told me that) almost definitely would never pick up a hitch hiker. My odds of getting this hitch were about 0.000001%.
I told Samantha and Jacelyn that I was a PCT hiker and they went crazy. Evidently, Samantha had recently watched "Wild" and now had the PCT on her bucket list. That morning, before picking me up, they were just talking about the PCT not know they would drive right past the trail. I got the joy of telling them that they were trail angels and allowed them to take a selfie with me in it. I definitely looked out of place.
Still in disbelief over what just happened, I hiked down the trail running into Raven and Fuego. We started hiking together and talking. We enjoyed that so much that over the next few days developed a system where I hiked with them several hours each day. This ended up as one of my best experiences hiking with others on the PCT.
The next morning, I showed up at Ebbetts Pass where I saw Raven, Fuego and some other hikers with a trail angel cooking us breakfast. I couldn't believe my luck. With breakfast consumed, I took off with Raven and Fuego as we shot to hike over 30 miles in the Sierras. We did.
Still it didn't end as we hiked together to Highway 50 where we hitched a ride to South Lake Tahoe and ate lunch together at Sprouts. Raven had spent quite a bit of time there and when she told us about Sprouts, I was sold immediately. Fuego I'm not sure shared my excitement, but we all enjoyed an excellent meal before I had to leave for a trip up to Washington to attempt to climb Mt. Rainier.
When hikers talk about trail magic, this string of experiences comes to mind.