Day 82: The Worst Dog Owner Ever

June 11, 2018


The next morning I slept in until 6:30am. The store was restocking the shelves that morning and I kicked myself for not waiting to resupply. Pickings had been slim the day before and now they had stuff that I needed most! Where/why had they been hiding it when the swarm of hikers had arrived last night? I bought a small container of crunchy peanut butter anyway because they had pancakes on the breakfast menu and I knew I needed to load up on calories, and breakfast is always cheaper than dinner. I covered my pancakes with a thick layer of peanut butter and called it a success. Breakfast also came with bottomless coffee. Win!

When hikers arrive at VVR, they’re directed to the general store where they are given a run-down of how everything works, the cost of things and how to arrange them (like showers…etc), and a tab is started for each hiker, starting with their ferry fee. The tab system, I’ll admit, is brilliant. It saves everyone from having to deal with money every time they buy/order something and hikers don’t realize how much they’ve spent until the end of their stay (unless they’re the sort to dine and dash, which is abhorrent).

Somehow, even after foregoing showers, laundry, and being very frugal with my spending at the store, my bill was about $120, just to give you an idea of how expensive everything was. I lucked out, though. As we were leaving the store to go down to the lake to catch the ferry, a couple of newly-arrived hikers who had just picked up resupply packages were dumping unwanted items into the hiker box. I was able to claim a bag of dehydrated refried beans, a pack of tortillas, and some Hershey’s chocolates! Everything else I happily left behind for other hikers, calling a few over to take their pick before it was too late. Based on the look of the store and how random the resupply shelves were, several hikers speculated that the hiker box was often raided, it’s contents receiving a price sticker and going onto a shelf in the store. I don’t know if this was true or not, but whatever the case I wanted to make sure the hungry hikers got first dibs on the goodies. 

We caught the ferry back across the lake around 11:00am or so and I called my mom as soon as I had cell service to let her know I hadn’t been able to hitch to Mammoth Lakes and would be hiking there after all. She was concerned, but I assured her the pain and UTI were much less severe that morning than they had been the day before and that it would only take us about 2.5 days to hike to Mammoth Lakes. She said dad had suggested they both fly out to CA, borrow a car from our cousins in San Francisco, and come get me. I was touched, obviously, but assured her it wasn’t necessary and would be a huge hassle for them. I’d be just fine.

Back on the boat!

We started hiking. During the ferry ride, Ghosthiker starting feeling nauseous from something she ate at VVR. Sparky hiked on ahead of us while I was talking to my mom, so Ghosthiker and I brought up the rear. We’d only gone a little ways when I looked behind me and saw that Ghosthiker had stopped hiking and was sitting down alongside the trail. I hurried to see what was up. Apparently she’d been looking down at her feet and hadn’t noticed a tree that had fallen and was suspended at about head-height across the trail. She didn’t see it coming and had smacked her head right into it! It took several long minutes for her to recover, during which time I hovered nearby anxiously. At one point she thought she might throw up, but she didn’t. After about 10 minutes she was well enough to start hiking again, slowly, and we explained what happened to Sparky when we caught up to him. 

It was a long, hard slog into camp, basically all uphill. I think we only did like 4ish miles, which is pretty bad for us, but Ghosthiker and I were both dragging a lot and we couldn’t have gotten over the pass in the slushy snow even if we’d wanted to. 

We had to cross another sketchy river that day, but we were rewarded in the afterward with an easier river crossing that was right next to a beautiful waterfall! We climbed up some steep switchbacks for about another mile before Ghosthiker and I announced that we were pretty much spent, so we threw down our packs to camp and were immediately attacked by mosquitoes. It was a beautiful flat area along a trail that continued climbing up and up and up. Thank God for small mercies.

A very old, random boardwalk in the Sierra.
Lots of uphill.
And that’s the trail.

I was foolish enough to try and take a little bath of sorts in the nearby creek, but it was a terrible failure. I wore only my panties and bra and my wind/rain jacket to protect me from the mosquitoes, but it didn’t work. The mosquitoes wouldn’t leave me be, the water was freezing, and an attempt to rinse the grime out of my hair only resulted in giving me hair that was now greasy and wet. I slid into my tent soaking wet, killed every mosquito that had snuck in after me, and then did my best to dry myself. At least my skin felt a little cleaner. We hadn’t hiked far that day but I was so tired I only managed a tortilla with some peanut butter before putting my bear can far from my tent and calling it a night.

In hindsight, I should have hiked down to the waterfall and taken a “shower”, but at the time I was just too exhausted. The mosquitos probably would have been fewer, though.

I miss being home. I don’t think it has anything to do with being on trail, but I’ve been wandering around trying to “find myself” for the last couple of years and out here in the wilderness, separated from everything I know, the thing I keep coming back to is that I miss being where my parents are.

Was it wrong to want to be near my parents in my 30s? Holy shit, I thought, I’m gonna be 33 next month. I wasn’t even sure how I felt about that. At the time I certainly didn’t feel 33. I couldn’t help but wonder if I looked 33. I didn’t think so, because people always seemed to guess my age much lower, like mid 20’s. I guess that’s a relief. What is a 33-year-old supposed to look like, anyway?

We were about ⅓ of the way done hiking the PCT. I know it should have felt like a huge accomplishment, but it seemed so small when I considered exactly how long I’d been on the trail already. The Sierra is beautiful, but all these small-mile days were starting to get to me. I was torn between wanting to go slower and enjoy myself, and wanting to speed things up and get this done. I wanted to pace myself so I could make it all the way to Canada, but I didn’t want it to take me until September to actually get there. If I could finish in August, that’d be awesome. I doubted I could, though. 82 days on trail and I wasn’t even halfway there yet. Ugh, the desert took so damn long! Fucking desert. Never again. I’m nervous about Northern California. They say it’s like Southern California. Shit. Maybe by then I’ll be stronger, faster, and I’ll just fly through it. Maybe. 

That evening as I lay in my tent listening to the river, hot tears streamed down my face and into my hair. I missed home. I missed my dog. Poor Zoe. I’m always leaving her behind. I’m basically the worst dog owner ever.

Day 83: 24.6 Miles

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

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