The car stops. The driver rolls down her window and tells me she usually doesn’t pick up hitch hikers. I tell her it’s ok – I’m not a hitch hiker, I’m a thru-hiker. She unlocks the car and I get in.
She tells me about Bend. She asks me what I do when I go into a town. I tell her that I drink kombucha and do a resupply – this time I need fuel, food and a warm layer. She says she wants to swing by her house on the way.
We pull into her driveway. She goes into the garage and rummages around. She comes back with her arms piled with bananas, bars, bottles of kombucha and a Patagonia fleece pullover. She turns all these items over to me. Such kindness and generosity! The kombucha is delicious. Turns out she works for Humm Kombucha.
I feel like I’ve written a number of posts where something serendipitous, especially generous, or fateful happens. I’m not sure if I’m more aware of these events than usual. As corny as it might sound, I feel that I’m doing “what I’m supposed to be doing” so everything is dappled with effortlessness. I haven’t experienced this feeling in many years.
I go to the Rainbow Motel and get a room. It’s similar to the one in Redding and I’m bummed but I have chores to do. My camera died in Chester and Sony sent a loaner while they fix it. I need to pick it up and get my resupply/bounce box. I go to the post office downtown, but they send me to the main branch, which is 45 minutes away down a street filled with strip malls and traffic. The car noise is intense and I feel myself tighten. Hiking has made me a delicate and tender flower. By the time I get to the post office, I’m frazzled and hot. I wait in line and finally ask for the box. The post person says, “now that you’ve done a good chunk of the PCT, what would you do differently?” “I wouldn’t send a box to Bend,” I blurt out. He looks hurt. Now I feel guilty and awkward. Bend is not going as well as planned. What happened to my dappled effortlessness?
I decide to take a bus back. While I wait, a woman joins me. We chat and the PCT comes up. She can’t believe anyone would want to hike 2,650 miles. She tells me that her car recently broke down and now she has to walk everywhere. She says 3 miles is all she can do, but she’s lost a lot of weight without changing her diet, just walking. She tells me her name is Caat. She likes the extra “a”. I tease her “Caaaaaaaaaaat” and she gets a kick out of it. She starts describing all the things that had to happen to her that day for us to meet. I really like this person. Our conversation is fun and easy. I learn that she is living in women’s shelter and is cleaning motel rooms. She wants to give me something. She has a box of moon pies and gives me a handful. It’s clear we both feel better from our chance bus stop meeting.
Sensing things are on an upswing, I return to the Rainbow and ask to switch rooms. I get the key for room 123. Compared to 115, 123 is a whole new world – big and clean with a flat screen TV. It’s hard to believe both rooms belong to the same hotel. A woman peeks out from the room next to mine. It’s K2 – a hiker I met at kickoff! She’s with her section hiking friend Alchemist. Friends are everywhere – picking up hitch hikers, taking the bus, staying at motels. I take a shower, put my dirty clothes in a stuff sack and go with them for dinner.
Next to the dinner joint is a laundromat/bar. Across the street from that is something called Glazed and Confused, a donut truck like no other.
Ok, so Bend is pretty awesome after all.