Day 29- 1 mile from Highway 2 and Wrightwood at mile 369.3 to Grassy Hollow Visitor Center at mile 370.3

I sleep in until 7 in the gorgeous bed. Michelle pokes her head in to wake us up. Heath has made a big breakfast- fried eggs, pancakes, hash browns, and bacon for the meat-eaters. Michelle bakes bread so there are also slices of toasted homemade bread. Heath introduces me to the concept of peanut butter on pancakes- as well as a healthy amount of butter and syrup. It’s all delicious. Then we pack up quickly and they drop us off in front of the gas station in town. Twinkle Toes and I look at each other and just say, “Wow!” The world is awesome. Thank you Heath and Michelle!

Twinkle and I head over to the Mountain Hardware store to pick up packages. I get a package with a sheet of Tyvek since my polycryo groundsheet ripped down the middle. They sell it here, though, and there’s already a Tyvek groundsheet in the hiker box. Oh, well. I spread out the crinkly white sheet on the asphalt and cut it down to the size I need, then put my old ground sheet and the remaining Tyvek in the hiker box. It’s so loud, but I hear it gets softer if you put it in a washing machine or as you use it.

I leave my pack in the back patio of the hardware store and go to resupply at Jensen’s, a building down. They have a hiker-food section and “Hiker” logo labels in the aisles to point out popular hiking foods. This town is so friendly and cute! Everyone knows about hikers.

I repackage my food back at the Mountain Hardware. Catch ‘Em is here, after being evacuated out of Mission Creek due to his heart problem. Apparently a guy named Nightcrawler wearing Levi’s and blue Nikes stole his heart medication and wallet at Deep Creek Hot Springs. He also stole the donation jars at both the Warner Springs Community Center and at Mike’s Place. If any sees him, watch out… It really sucks that there are people like that on the trail, let alone in this world.

The entire back patio is set up for hikers, with hiker boxes for food and gear, a register, and a trash can. Twinkle and I head our separate ways- I hang out at the tables in front of the bakery and edit my journal posts and post them up on my blog.

I’m almost done and am thinking about finding a place to fill up my water bottles and hitching back to the trail, when Twerk walks up. He hiked through the night to get here from Cajon, only stopping to sleep for 4 hours. It’s really awesome to see him. I tell him the bakery’s closed and give him a hug, then we head over to a restaurant and order food. I get a veggie burger again, but this one is 100% better than the one last night: avocado, sprouts, soft bun, thousand island dressing, and hot, salty fries. Twerk has a small appetite as usual and takes forever to finish his BLT.

Sam from England, aka Tallboy, comes in and joins us. The pull of wanting to stay in town and wait for my friends is strong, but so is my antsiness to get out of town and save money, especially when I’m all ready to go, and the group has already changed so much that I’m not sure I feel a part of it anymore. Tarantino comes and says he might have fractured his foot in this last section, and might be having to get off trail for a while. Karmel and Ram are getting off, too, because of Karmel’s Plantar Fascitis. Is this the part of trail where people start getting off due to injuries? It’s scary to think about having to stop, and sad to see people get off.

I head over to the Mexican food place with them. When I’m walking a car pulls up, and it’s Craig, a guy who found me through Sounds of the Trail and always leaves me super-sweet messages asking how my hike is going through Instagram. He’s in town after hiking up around Baden-Powell, and recognized me from a distance because of my poofy hair. Wow!! He says to get in touch if I need anything in the next hour because he’ll be in town.

I sit with my friends at the Mexican place. I feel really torn about wanting to get hiking again vs. staying. There’s no point in staying though, because I’m ready to leave and would be wasting around 60 dollars on splitting a cabin and meals… I call my dad, and decide to head out. I ask someone at the bar inside if they can fill my water bottles, and then start walking to the road to hitch.

Then I remember Craig and decide to see if he’d give me a ride back to the trailhead; it’d be nice to talk to him some more. He says yes, after he and his friend finish eating, so I walk back and sit at the table with Twerk, Rawhide, Tarantino, and Tallboy. The group I hiked with just a week or two ago has changed and morphed so much, and I feel outside of the group mindset. Craig texts me and says he’s finished, so I say goodbye and walk out front.

I talk to Craig and his friend as he drives me back to the trail. I tell him the story of how I got interviewed for Sounds of the Trail. So freaking weird and cool that we met! He asks me how I’m doing and I reply that I’m doing great and taking it slow and enjoying myself.

I meet an older hiker named Ninja Tortoise who has done All The Trails and I walk with him the mile to Grassy Hollow Visitor Center. He’s almost done a triple crown, except for the last 150 miles of the CDT because they were closed when he came through. He’s done the AZT, Florida Trail, and a bunch of obscure ones I’ve never heard of.

We get to the picnic area, and I set up my cowboy camp. I see Twinkle Toes coming from a different part of the campground and wave. “Picnic!” she shouts. It feels nice to have someone welcome me into camp. There are a ton of other hikers here. Marble, Soulshine and Sprite and Roadshow… I don’t have the time to catch all their names. I make the mac n cheese I’ve been carrying forever with refried beans, which tastes just OK. I’m not too hungry after my late lunch.

We all joke around, and stand around the fire someone has made in one of the picnic barbecues. A couple who’s been taking their time and started almost a month before me has made melted spam and cheese sandwiches. I listen to Ninja Tortoise and another hiker compare the merits of different actors in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Then bed!