Day 23: Monday, May 27

In a bunk at the Camp Wrightwood church hostel (PCT mi 369.5), walked ~27.5 miles today

Left the hotel way early, at 5:30am, walked over to get some McDonald's breakfast, got back on the trail by 6:15 or so. Crossed the San Andreas Fault after a few miles. No earthquakes struck ... boring. Caught up to an older fellow named Scott who moves quite quickly, and who had beat me out of the hotel that morning, though for him getting up at 5 is normal. He had started at Campo May 14 (much like with Hacksaw before, start doing the math and it seems unfathomable). He has a botany degree and manages student labs at UT-Austin, so he was a good guy to talk to about many things, including the poodle-dog bush which actually became an issue today, as opposed to before when I had been misidentifying it (he had too, which made me feel less dumb). People had recently reported "unavoidable" poodle bush over a 4-mile stretch of the PCT and had suggested a detour on some fire roads, which I took. It didn't add or subtract any mileage to the PCT, as far as I could tell.

After the detour, there was an enormous new water cache, at which I met two Utahns, Wolfpaw and A.J. We walked about the next ten miles together, Wolfpaw and I having a pretty good discussion about religion the whole time. He was raised Mormon and has gone on his mission but has a Buddhist father, and currently has a view of religion that basically lumps them all together into varying manifestations of the same basic human reaction to what he called the divine. He was an accountant for several years but now wants to go back to grad school to learn more about ancient religions, if not for an academic career then at least to help formulate and solidify his own beliefs about religion. I think to him it's not a bad investment, although in a strictly financial sense it almost certainly is, because the expansion of his own knowledge is the ultimate goal and essentially the most beneficial thing that he or anyone else with a belief in the divine can do for themselves. I really liked that way of thinking, and moreover his way of talking about religion and his own faith and the questions that he wrestled with, along with apparently lots of other young Mormon missionaries, was really intelligent and easy to follow. He and A.J. and Scott didn't have plans to go into Wrightwood, so I lost them, but I'll probably catch back up at least to the first two at some point.

Put in headphones for the last five miles to Highway 2, the Wrightwood exit, and busted it out, got there at 4:45 or so. Quickly got a ride in with a local family (names forgotten now), they dropped me off at the hardware store, where I picked up my maildrop from Kristin, then went about finding a place to stay for the night. Tried calling some trail angel numbers but they were all unreachable, went to the grocery store still with no plan, when a man named Dan came up to me in the parking lot and mentioned Camp Wrightwood, a church hostel on the edge of town that was free to stay at. Got some mediocre Mexican food for dinner then headed over to check it out. The first thing I came across was three dudes playing poker, smoking and drinking beer and listening to rap on the back porch, which suggested to me that this wasn't the typical church hostel environment. The next person I saw was Bow, from back around day 2 or so, and he and I walked back down into town for a drink and because he knew some peeps who were already down there. These were Plato and French Charlie, the former of whom I had met before. Long story short, we drank some in town, then headed back to the church place so they could drink and smoke more. I was exhausted and didn't make it up much longer. Going to bed in a crowded, snory, hot bunkroom.