Day 9: Monday, May 13

At the Idyllwild Inn (left trail PCT mi 151.3, a 15.2 mile day)

Woke up this morning not because of the sun or the mosquitoes, but because I was being stung by a scorpion! Never a dull moment out here, I tell you. Didn't know what it was that was biting me at first ... It felt like a bee sting, but I was guessing a spider or ants. Threw off my shirt and sleeping bag, and a few seconds later a little golden scorpion crawled out. He was, as the Sri Lankans would say, "a harmless fellow," but I didn't know that at the time. Took a picture of it (with my real camera, can't get it on the phone blog, sorry) and made contingency plans in case I started experiencing symptoms ... basically, these consisted of walking to the nearest water source so I could stay hydrated, then sitting and waiting for someone else to come along. It never came to that, I just have a red mark under my upper right arm now. Still ... a scorpion!

Walked the 15 miles to the road way too fast and with few breaks. It was bitchin hot out this morning, and a lot of elevation change ... By far the hardest I've worked so far. Drank 5+ liters of water over that time and still couldn't pee. Although maybe the scorpion venom coursing through my veins was to blame there.

Was dead on my feet getting to the storied Paradise Cafe, which was slammed even though it was a Monday. Cops, school buses and campers all over the parking lot. The wait staff seemed seriously stressed, I only found out why when a reporter for the local paper came to talk to me and I learned that the Tour of California bike race was coming by in the next half hour. Somewhere tomorrow, Chris Burke, whose "trail name" is "Scrub," is probably quoted in a newspaper article saying,  "I had no idea there was a bike race, I just stumbled in off the Pacific Crest Trail." The bike race did come by, the breakaway group followed by the peloton 9 minutes later. They were each going about 35 mph and it took five seconds for them to pass. Rocket Llama, a very cheery lady from Portland, and I were the only thru-hikers around to witness it.

Got a hitch into Idyllwild with local citizen Nancy, who freely admitted after five minutes of weaving around a bit that she had had "one too many glasses of wine up there at the Cafe." Whatever, I made it in alive. Took a room at the Inn and hoped I could find someone eventually to split the cost with ... At the pizza shop around dinnertime, I did run into Matan from Israel, whom I had last seen the first night at Lake Morena. He and I have the place for the night. Bought Vitamin Water, milk and beer at the grocery store and spent the evening on the Inn porch chatting with him. Good times ... Potential zero tomorrow. Definitely need groceries, a haircut, and some time off from the heat at the very least.

A scorpion stung me at sun-up

So I'm off to the Cafe to run up

A ludicrous tab--

Fries, burgers and Pabst--

By the time that my symptoms have shown up.

- poem I left in the water-cache message book at mile 7 today