Day 20: Friday, May 24

Cowboy camping under the Deep Creek Bridge (PCT mi 298.3), walked 16 miles today

As Pippin and I were breaking camp in the morning, up walked Lenny and Rebecca, my Kiwi/British friends whom I hadn't seen in about two weeks. They had been work-for-staying in the Big Bear Lake hostel for 9 days while Rebecca's ankle healed. They now have trail names, 'Murrica and Roast Chicken, although Pippin determined later that Rebecca Beaton anagrams to A Concrete Babe, so we're hoping she switches to that. It reminds me a bit of the early-90s rock balladiers Concrete Blonde, but I'm thinking most people won't make that connection. Lenny says that in Fiji, there are a lot of people named Concrete because parents name their children after what is most valuable to them. I have my doubts, but I'll defer to him on grounds of geographic proximity.

As were all standing around, up walked Russell from Santa Cruz, whom none of us had met before. He told us, very professionally, that his "friend is a medicinal marijuana grower, " and that his hike was being "sponsored" by the sale of that product. This was a great euphemism for "I am dealing drugs to make money on the trail," and we all had a laugh about it afterwards, although not before some contributed to the sponsorship effort.

The hiking itself today was rather pedestrian. Walked with Lenny and Becca (can't make myself call them by their trail names) for most of the first ten miles, during which we descended out of the nice high-elevation pine forest back down to the brushy no-shade desert. It was getting uncomfortably hot when we got to shady Holcomb Creek at 12:30ish ... we stuck our feet and heads in and then took a three-hour break there, Pippin, Skip and a Eugenian native named Siesta showing up in the meantime. Got the final 6 miles to here out of the way quickly by myself, would've gone farther but we've heard there's a paucity of good campsites up ahead and the company and the location are both too good to pass up. The air quality was abysmal this afternoon, there was a thick haze at every viewpoint. Either this is L.A.'s fault (we're northeast of it now, I realized looking at a map yesterday, which made me happy), or there are wildfires already, or both. Camping on the beach here with Siesta and Lenny & Becca.