Late the next evening, trail angel Strange Bird drives me, while cranking Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head, to a place called Hiker Town. The coming trail section is a difficult one – its 45 almost waterless miles along the Los Angeles aqueduct, which is shelterless and punctuated by massive wind farms.
Hiker Town is the last outpost to get water, pick up mail, or rest from the heat before the first 18 miles. It’s also, across the board, one of the creepiest places associated with the PCT – a quarter acre of desolate Wild West desert right next to a highway traveled almost solely by 18 wheelers. The property contains a normal enough looking house, a couple of garages, and a row of derelict buildings that appear to be from the set of a low budget western. There are also hastily made trailers containing dirty beds, cartons of week old puppies, and hoarder debris.
It’s a ghost town when I arrive. I’m the only one there. Bob, the caretaker, shows me a number of trailers I can stay in – each weirder than the last. I opt for one with only a marginally slanted floor, a landscape painting, and a poster of pasta entwined on a fork. I haven’t really been scared during the hike, but tonight I sleep fully clothed and put my trekking pole at the base of the sliding glass door so it can’t be opened from the outside.
The next day, I move my pack to a common space and hang around waiting for 6:00pm so I can hike during the coolest hours. After a while, hiker town’s owner, Richard, shows up and asks me if I want a ride to the convenience store. I say yes and get in his car. As we pull out onto the highway, he tells me that he’s not going to let me out of the car. I’m not sure I heard right, so I ask him to repeat what he just said. He tells me again that he’s not going to let me out of the car. WTF?? I take my phone out of my pocket with one hand, open the car door with the other, and tell him to let me out. He looks at my chest and asks me if I’m married and what my husband does. I tell him that he’s an attorney. Richard tells me we’re just going 30 miles. I tell him no. He says “OK, OK, we’re just going to the convenience store.” I arrive safely, but entirely pissed off. What the fuck is up with this guy? I enter the store, grab some random items, and plop them on the counter. I dig in my little day pack only to discover that I left my wallet at Hiker Town. Arrrrrggggggg. I get a ride back with a perfectly normal former trucker. My hiker friends have finally arrived. I tell them my weird story and we all agree that Hiker Town is WTF Creepville. We fill our water bottles and head for the aqueduct.