Day 10: Tuesday, May 14

At Idyllwild Inn (151.9), a zero mile day

Woke up to my nose bleeding profusely. Once that was over with, walked around town for some coffee, some baked goods and a haircut. The lady at the Idyllwild Family Hair Salon told me that she'd been in business here for 30 years, and the PCT hikers always come in with the same request: "Get it all off me." Those were roughly my instructions too.

Freshly shorn, I proceeded to loaf all day. A grocery run and two trips to JoAn's, the restaurant across the street, were the chief events. Talked with Matan for a long time at lunch about the Israeli army, and how young Israelis often go out to travel the world after their army service ends and they work "preferred jobs" for a year and save up money. He said he'd met 8 Jews out of the 40 or so people he'd introduced himself to on the trail. He also said he needed to relax more and take in "all this" (looking around at the perfect California scenery/weather) instead of hiking the way he'd been conditioned to by his army service--get to x point today, take x number of breaks at points x, y and z for x minutes, and so on. Made me realize that I'm much more distanced from that mentality than I was when I started the AT, although I can still call it in for short periods. The lack of shelters on the PCT changes everything--on the AT, it's so easy to shelter-hop, scheduling all your mid-day breaks and end-day camps around shelters. Water sources, because they're so precious, fill a similar role on the PCT, but it's so much less rigid in general. The lack of shelters even changes what I choose to eat. Instead of being guaranteed a flat wooden shelter platform to fix food on every few miles, as on the AT, I know that my PCT foods will be eaten as I'm standing or plopping down in the dirt somewhere, so I choose things that are easier to grab and shovel. No more sandwiches with all that required preparation; just straight cheese, peanut butter, dried fruits, trail mix--whatever I happen to reach in and get hold of first.

Around 6 pm I chatted with Hacksaw, an absolutely manic thru-hiker who started May 9 (it's now May 13, mile 152 for reference). He's from Nashville and has a deep, deep Southern accent, which actually warms me a lot more than it did when I would hear one even a year or two ago. He fed part of a pot cookie to a squirrel. He said he's going to leave town at 5am tomorrow to hitch out. Seeing how dead this place was at 9 this morning, I wonder if he'll have any luck.

Idyllwild is one of those towns that only exists in Southern California--it's impossibly sunny, impossibly beautiful, impossibly mild. No one appears to work and I'm sure anyone who spends any amount of time here quickly forgets that the rest of the world, with its bad weather, mean people and poverty, even exists. It was a great place to take a zero. But I gotsta move on. Getting out tomorrow morning, maybe 9 or so. Allegedly some difficult miles in the offing.