Day 6: Early Zero in Julian

March 27, 2018

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The following morning my poison oak rash was so bad I knew I had no choice but to hitch into town and see a doctor asap. The worse part on my thigh was swelling up in a red, angry manner, and the bits of rash on my hip were starting to spread due south of my abdomen. That could not be allowed to happen. 

The young man who’d tried hitching with me yesterday – I’ll call him the Cling-On to avoid confusion – followed me up the hill to the road and stuck out his thumb. Well, I thought, at least I won’t have to hitchhike alone my first time. We were soon offered a ride with a very nice older gentleman who spoke almost no English, but he understood where we wanted to go and was happy to take us there, as it was apparently on his way. He dropped us off at the corner right on the edge of the little town of Julian and I immediately used my cell phone to try and locate a place to stay. The Cling-On walked beside me as we headed down the main road through town. I knew he’d hiked the entire PCT last year and so I picked his brain a little about the town and what was worth visiting while I was there, but I don’t recall asking him to stay with me wherever I happened to get a room for the night. He seemed to think that was the plan, though, and me being the nieve hiker I was, I didn’t know how to say I wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t know this person, but I also didn’t know proper hiker etiquette. Was it normal to shack up with strangers in town? I knew sharing the cost of a hotel room would be nice, but still. I felt a little stuck.

Hey there, this is Future Sarah speaking. Just a friendly PSA to first-time thru-hikers: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT feel obliged to share a room of any kind with a hiker you don’t know or are not comfortable with. Better to risk hurting someone’s feelings than get stuck in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation you cannot easily escape. 

With nothing else available in the small mountain town of Julian, we ended up getting a room at the Julian Lodge and I immediately took a long, hot shower to alleviate the burning, itching poison oak rash. Good thing I did it straight away, because shortly after I’d finished I discovered that the Cling-On had invited every smelly male hiker he saw to come use our shower!!

Again, not knowing proper hiker etiquette, I pretended to be ok with this. I sat on my bed watching TV and playing it cool while no less than 6 men came in one by one to use our shower. They were all very polite and extremely grateful, though most of them seemed surprised when they saw me there. They almost seemed apologetic, but I smiled and said it was cool. Meanwhile, while they waited for their turn in the shower we make polite conversation and the Cling-On would chime in with crude stories that turned into poor dick jokes that he thought were entertaining, but were clearly loathsome to everyone else in the room. It seemed he was trying to curry favor with these other hikers, which only stretched as far as the free shower. His dick jokes did nothing to impress the other hikers but were 100% successful in embarrassing me.

After they’d all gone and some time passed I asked him if he intended to shower (his own hikertrash scent had strong hints of skunk thanks to copious amounts of marijuana smoke). He said he thought probably not because he was pretty tired, and I about lost it. I basically ordered him to go shower, not caring if it was rude of me to do so. I’d had it. 

Needless to say, I got very little sleep that night. Earlier in the day I’d managed to pick up some hydrocortisone cream that I hoped would relieve the poison oak itch and make this whole catastrophe worth it. 

It didn’t.

I took no photos that day or the next day.

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at sarahhikes.com.

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