Weldon, CA KOA 

It was hot last night. Hot. It was hard to sleep. 

We all got up this morning, ready for action, but also feeling suspended. 

Salsa, TS and I walked down to the grocery for donuts, mostly. When we got back, almost everyone was huddled in a gazebo and someone was finishing up a conversation with the Bureau of Land Management office. The trail between here and Kennedy Meadows is closed. All of the roads to the west that go to Kennedy Meadows are closed. There is a way through to the east through Kernville. 

As soon as the phone call ended, 90% of the hikers in the gazebo grabbed their packs and started hitching toward Kernville. It was easy to get wrapped up in the panic and emotion of the moment. Everyone was leaving! Were we being left behind? Should we get a plan together? 

TS wanted to get to Kernville as quickly as possible. The guy who picked us up yesterday lives in Kernville and he seemed eager to help. 

I still had packages that hadn’t been delivered to Kennedy Meadows and if the roads were now closed I needed to figure out what was happening with them. I tried not to panic. Again, the PCT rumor mill was spinning. I called the PCTA and talked to Jack Haskel. He basically said that the fire fighters and forest service doesn’t care about the trail or hikers, and their main concern is to contain the fire and evacuate any threatened areas. Of course. I felt like such an asshole, although I know he didn’t mean to be harsh. His best advice was to just sit tight until there was more information. Good advice.

It’s too easy to panic when things don’t go as planned. There’s a desire to fix the problem quickly. There’s a desire for movement. As long as I’m moving, something’s happening, right? 

I resisted the urge to fight or flight. Here, I have everything I need. There is food, a grocery store. There is inexpensive shelter. There is a pool, wifi, transportation to other places. Here, I can make better decisions with more information. Why should I rush toward uncertainty? No sense in making impulsive, emotional decisions when I have plenty of time. 

So, I stayed. I sat by the pool. Salsa and TS almost stayed, but decided to hitch to Kennedy Meadows. Dudders showed up. We all hung out until afternoon. The guys went to the store and bought salad and brats. Salad! Kale! 

After dinner, I disappeared to the cabin we reserved. Air conditioning! It’s hot here! And here I lay, texting with Hunter, typing this, enjoying being alone. 

Today I learned that when there is some kind of crisis it is okay to stay put until I have more information. And sometimes it’s the best thing to do. 

Today was powered by adrenaline. 

I have no pictures from this day except for this sunrise shot, facing in the direction of the fire. You can’t even tell what’s going on over there, huh?

A Note about Trail Names:

Many of you have asked me how people get trail names and what they mean. There are no hard and fast rules, but here is my general understanding and philosophy. 

A trail name is more than a nickname; it is your trail persona. It is how people come to remember and know you. 

The best trail names I’ve heard are bestowed by the trail. They have a story behind them (False Alarm), or speak to a person’s hiking style (Turbo Snail), or something to do with their personality (Golden Boy). They are usually chosen by the people you’re hiking with. Yes, some people choose their own names, but that is not the norm and those are not usually the best names. 

I hike alone a lot, so it’s taking me awhile to get a name, but that’s okay. It takes awhile to get to know me. There’s still plenty of time. I prefer to wait for the right name, bestowed by the trail.