Day 5: Thursday, May 9

Cowboy camping at Third Gate water cache (91.2), a 17.5 mile day

Woke up, first thing I did was pee, second thing I did was look up and see a hiker I've never seen before, an older guy, walking right by with a full frontal view of my rig. I said a cheerful good morning and he laughed and said, "Don't worry, that happens all the time!" Caught up with him later, he calls himself T-Cozy and did half the AT in 2011. A little loopy but that happens out here.

Walked the hour down to Scissors Crossing, marveled at the enormous water cache there (50 gallons? Prob more), stuck my thumb out, got a ride into Julian from the second car. Thanks to Dave from ____ Valley (nearby town whose name I can't recall) for that one. In Julian, immediately met fellow thru-hiker Tree-Boo. A completely indescribable man, not going to even try. He and I sauntered into Mom's Pies, which, unbeknownst to us, gives all hikers a free sandwich, pie slice with ice cream, and soda, all of one's choice. What??? This is unheard of, at least as an institutional policy, on the AT, probably the rest of the PCT too. I had ham, apple crumble, vanilla, and a root beer. Then I ordered one of their iced ciders and actually paid for it, but only half price.

Did groceries, made phone calls, shot the breeze with passerby, and soon it was time to eat lunch. Went to the Rong Branch Saloon, had a decent lunch, and at the end the waitress asked if we were thru-hikers and when we said yes, she told us we didn't have to pay. Again, this hasn't happened to me before. Also I don't understand it. What exactly are we doing that makes us deserve such special treatment? Waitressing day in and day out is way the hell harder than hiking all day. On the AT I got treated like a celebrity too sometimes and I didn't understand it, and it's even more baffling now. We haven't even made it very far (77 miles at that point).

Anyway. Tree-Boo and I hitched out of Julian around 3 with a mom taking her kids home from school. That was a trip too. Ran into the Kiwis underneath the Scissors bridge, but they weren't going much farther today. We had this spot, the next water source, as our goal for the night, 14 miles up from the road. Left at 3:20ish, Tree-Boo and Bow made it here awhile before I did because they're faster than me and I stopped for a bit when thunderstorms threatened and I found a sheltered spot to let them pass. Rained again briefly this afternoon, making it 4 days out of 5 that I've had at least some rain. Desert my ass. Got here to the Third Gate just after dark. Dry ramen and peanut butter sandwich for dinner, which was a failed experiment. Tomorrow: to Warner Springs, and beyond!