Campsite at 468.2 to fire closure to 478.2 to Upper Shake Campground (493.4)
10 PCT miles + 12 mile detour around closure
Daily miles: 22
“Blessings to you on your journey,” he says.
He’s lit a marijuana cigarette and he’s smiling at me. “I hope it is a blessed journey.”
I’m standing at his gate, hands full of fresh picked strawberries. They are cool and wet, and some of them still have flecks of dirt on them. I stand there, eating these cold wet strawberries he’s pulled from his ground in this valley next to the Mojave, and forget myself. His dogs walks up, panting, and it looks like she’s smiling at me.
A moment earlier he asked me where I’m going, a knowing smile spread across his face.
“Mexico,” I say.
“Mexico!” He says.
“No, no. I mean, Canada. I’m walking to Canada.”
“Ah, that’s what I thought.” He says and then pauses. “We grow everything here. We try to live off the land.” He looks like a Rastafarian, and there is a gentleness in him.
I’ve been road walking for hours around the Powerhouse Fire closure, which has been in place for years. Heat must have been in the 100s. The lakes I walk past were gone, bone dry, and the hills beyond them were charred black. I pass a country store and buy an ice cream and Gatorade. There is a PCT trail register in the store with names going back to the 70s. They must have felt the heat here too, and ducked into the store for something cool all those decades ago. Blessed are those who walk along these, our great American roads.
“Blessings on your journey,” he said and handed me a basket of strawberries, which he grew off the land himself and picked with his hands and washed with water as his dogs looked on.
“I’ll put them to good use,” I said. He smiles, and turns, and pulls on his cigarette, and goes back to work, picking at his strawberries.