April 3, 2018
The next morning I hiked out fairly early with Nightingale and Guy. I love the terrain surrounding Warner Springs. The open, gently-rolling landscape dotted with cows made for a nice, albeit brief, change from the normal desert conditions. Even after a zero my feet were not doing well, so hiking with Nightengale and Guy worked out well for me that day. We took several breaks, one by a nice shaded stream where Nightingale and I soaked our feet for a few minutes in the icy cool water. We stuck together and only did 10 miles that day, to the top of a climb where there were lots of open tent sites with a great view of the valley.
When we’d left Warner Springs that morning, the Cling-On seemed disappointed that we were setting out so “early” (it was, like 10am!). I hoped maybe he’d take a zero there, but it was not to be.
As we were setting up our tents for the night, who should arrive but the Cling-On and several other hikers. Maybe he’s hiking with them and won’t presume he’s still hiking with me? This hope was dashed when he proceeded to pitch his tent right next to mine. I know the area was filling up and open spots were getting scarce, but I still didn’t like it. I mean, his tent was so close that his lines and stakes were almost touching mine! Ugh!
Nightingale and I went off to check out Lost Valley Spring located a short distance down a side trail. It was well hidden, and when we reached it, we decided it looked pretty sketchy and we could wait until the next water source tomorrow. We both had enough for the night.
When we got back to our tents, the Cling-On was sitting very near but he was chatting with other hikers, so I pretended to be engrossed with my cellphone. I had decent cell service and so was texting with my mom and telling her a little bit about my situation with the Cling-On and she was advising me to be meaner.
“You’re too nice,” she said, “it’s one of the things I love about you but in this case, you need to just be mean.”
“I have been mean,” I replied, “I’ve been ignoring him and avoiding him.”
“That’s not mean enough.”
Even though it was a little shocking to hear this advice coming from my mom, I knew she was right. I guess literally running away from him at Scissors Crossing and actively ignoring him at Warner Springs wasn’t enough. But short of telling him flat out to piss off, I just didn’t know what else to do. I guess I’m not very good at confrontations.
I fixed my dinner and ate in silence with my face glued to my phone while the Cling-On sat between his tent and mine, constantly glancing over at me while he ate a few bits of food from his bag. I don’t know if he thought this yogi* act was going to work on me or what, but it didn’t. In an effort to be meaner, I brazenly over-ate and then packed all my food away and climbed into my tent without a word.
*According to the Trail Terminology provided by The Trek, to Yogi (verb) means to charm, persuade, or otherwise convince locals and day hikers to provide trail magic.
Another definition provided by a fellow thru-hiker on the PCT was, “Someone who hovers close to where others have plenty of food and tries to look hungry and somewhat pathetic.”
Either way you slice it, this tactic is normally used on locals and day hikers, NOT fellow thru-hikers.
I had been looking forward to sitting near the edge of the trail and enjoying the sunset over the valley, but I was afraid the Cling-On would follow me and sit with me or something, so I didn’t. I also thought it’d be a great night to sleep without the rainfly on my tent, but alas, privacy was essential. I lay in my tent pondering what to do. I enjoyed hiking with Nightingale and Guy, but Guy was having trouble with his hip and his back and so our pace was pretty slow. I was sticking close with them because I didn’t want to be hiking alone just then, but laying in my tent that evening, I wondered if what I needed to do was hike out super early and crush some miles to the nearest town. There were hikers everywhere. I wouldn’t be alone. I mentally settled on that plan and fell into a restless sleep.