I woke up around 4:30AM to go pee (as you do after downing 6L of water daily). When I tried to climb out of the tent, I realised I couldn’t walk. My right foot, which had nearly done me in yesterday, couldn’t bear any weight at all now. Using Wilson (my trusty stick) as a crutch, I painstakingly hopped to the toilet and back.
At this point, I really didn’t know what I’d do.
We’re at least an hour from Los Angeles (the closest REI store) so I didn’t even know how I would get there and exchange my shoes and then come back again. Bus? Uber? Rent a car? Everything seemed too much and I was in a state of defeat before the day even started. Writing out a quick message, I texted Mum and Dad in near-panic, and did my best to fall asleep again.
A few hours later, restless, upset and unsure as to how I’d go on, I finally got up. Making my way to the common table under a gazebo on the lawn, a friendly gentleman greeted me with a cheery, “Good morning!”.
And I burst into tears.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Richard is the sweetest man I think I’ve met out here.
He gave me a huge big hug, then took me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and said: “This is a bad morning. That’s all. It won’t be a bad day.”
We spoke about my feet and shoes, and I asked if there was any public transport or way to get me down to Los Angeles from Hikertown. There wasn’t, but not to worry: he’d just take me himself. “See? It’s already not such a bad day. We’re going to look after you!” he promised.
He was right: my day did get better from there.
My feet didn’t, really. But my outlook and spirit did, and that made all the difference.
As with most places that hikers congregate in towns, there was a ‘hiker box’ here. It’s generally a tub or box of some description, where hikers leave unwanted possessions that aren’t exactly junk for the next hiker who might want it. Often, you’ll find food (oats, trail mix, couscous, olive oil etc), spare bandaids and tapes, and shoes. Almost ALWAYS there are shoes in there. People get new shoes mailed to them, and they leave the older ones in the box instead of throwing them out. It’s a good system. Today, I found a pair of Altras (a running shoe most hikers convert to along the trail) that are the perfect size for me. They’re a little banged up, but they feel like slippers on my feet and will do for now. At least I’m not hobbling around barefoot.
Provided they put a little fuel into keep it going, there’s a van hikers are allowed to borrow and drive down to the local store for resupply or just a good feed. We went and treated ourselves to breakfast burritos and legit espresso 😍 (And I got to drive!)
The laundry was done – and dried in minutes, just about, with the dry heat and hot wind.
Richard would take me to REI tomorrow.
This afternoon though, while I rest and stay off my feet, would I mind babysitting two kittens? I can stay in the cabin with a double bed, tv and ensuite – the kittens are just tiny and need a friend and somewhere to play.
Um, yes. Yes I can play with kittens and have a bed tonight. My day kept getting better.
Maya, Dario and Speedy would all continue on this afternoon. It was pretty hard watching them go, but I also knew there was no way I could walk anyway – even if I’d already gone into LA and back for betters kicks. I needed to listen to my body, and my body was crying, “STOP!”.
Roberts (Richard’s wife) also looked after me: she gave me a bucket and a packet of epsom salts to soak my feet in.
I said my goodbyes to my hiker family, filled up the tub with hot water and cried on the phone to Mum and Dad while they prayed for me and my poor swollen, dirty feet soaked.
Check out that blister ☝🏽 No wonder I’ve been hobbling! The only satisfaction I got from it was popping that bad boy. And oh, was it satisfying. It squirted all the way onto my shoulder! A personal best 😉
At one point, I did venture out to explore Hikertown a little.
Basically, it’s a series of old Western film sets and shop fronts, with mattresses on the floor for hikers to sleep on. Or, of course, you can camp outside like we did last night.
Rockmelon showed me his room for the night: a tiny little storage container with just enough room for a mattress and his pack to sit beside him as he sleeps. Poor fella.
I only had to look after the kittens for a few hours, but I was welcome to stay in the room for the night anyway, if I wanted.
I’ll take a big soft bed, a doona, some red wine and read my book tonight, I think.
Richard was right. It did get better. And with my rest today and proper shoes on the horizon, I reckon tomorrow will be better still.