Day Thirty Two

Miles today: 7
Total miles: 478

We debated this morning whether we wanted to briefly stop by the Trail Angel's house the Andersons, stay the night there, or just hike past without stopping. It was only seven miles away but we heard that hikers can get "stuck" there for days or weeks at a time, like a time warp. We didn't want that to happen to us, but we also didn't want to skip it entirely. We finally decided to spend our afternoon siesta there and try to do some more miles in the evening.

With a plan in mind, we were up and ready to go by 7:00. It was a cold morning, so we left Papa Bear sleeping and said we'd catch up with him later. The terrain was flat and pleasant so we made excellent time, reaching the road by 9:30. The Andersons lived two miles off trail, but we managed to catch a hitch from a lady who was neighbors with them.

As soon as we drove up, we were met by a huge group of hikers sitting in lounge chairs and couches on the front lawn. It was organized chaos everywhere. Everyone was in Hawaiian shirts and drinking something, and a sign on the garage read: "Hippie Day Care." As soon as we got out of the car the whole group of hikers began raucously cheering, and Mrs. Anderson herself came running out of the house to give us big hugs. We were given a tour of the house by Mr. Anderson, who tried to persuade us to put our packs in the backyard for camping tonight, but we politely declined, saying we were trying to hike out this evening. He gave us a look like he didn't believe us.

A lot of our friends were already there: Sunshine, Buffalo, Boulder, Scooter, Dance Party, Dog, Focus, Starfox, Lunchbox, Sansei, and many other hikers that we had never met. Apparently they had started far ahead of us but had gotten stuck in the Anderson Time Warp.

Hiker banner at the Anderson's. My name is written under the "S" in "Casa"

We were just in time for the last of the pancake breakfast, and Rotisserie, Katie and I found seats on couches and made ourselves at home. The Anderson's house was a completely different feel than the Sauffley's. The Sauffley's were the masters of organization and efficiencyand the Andersons were a kind of messy chaos. There was stuff and people everywhere, music playing, clutter in every corner of the yard, and apparently chocolate pudding wrestling in the evenings. It took some getting used to.

We relaxed for a few hours, debating whether we wanted to stay or go. Papa Bear never showed up, which led us to believe that he had kept walking. We wrestled with trying to hike after him, but Sansei kept giving us drinks and persuading us to stay (he had been there two days already, himself) and finally we relented. Katie, Rotisserie and I took our packs to the backyard to find a campspot and all the hikers who saw us walking by immediately began screeching and cat calling, whooping delightedly: "walk of shame! Walk of shame!" Apparently we weren't the only ones who claimed we were "only staying ten minutes" and then stayed the night.

We soon discovered the magic of the Anderson's backyard. Sansei described it as a place where "fairies, hikers and unicorns live in harmony." They had a huge Manzanita tree grove that stretched acres behind their house, and they had created a trail that ran through it. At each turn of the trail, a small spot had been hollowed out to allow a tent to be pitched there. The trail went on and on, with hundreds of tent spots at each turn. I couldn't believe how big the backyard was; it seemed to go on forever. There were a lot of other tents already pitched in the hollows, but we managed to find a good spot and set up our tent for the night. Once settled, we returned to the party.

I was immersed in chatting with some fellow hikers when suddenly Dance Party appeared beside Katie, Rotisserie and me. She gestured her head subtly to some big tables where volunteer trail angels appeared to be working on food of some kind.

"So, this is happening," she advised in a quiet voice. "They're making taco salad for us for dinner. You're gonna want to wash your hands and get in line quick before they announce it, otherwise it'll be chaos. I was here last night for it, and it's totally worth it. You'll want to be first in line."

And, indeed, right after we washed our hands and got in line, there was a mad dash of people and we found ourselves at the front of a very jostling, chaotic throng of people. The volunteers made a loud announcement:

"LISTEN UP!" they yelled, "if this is your first time to the Anderson's, get to the front of the line! There are some important rules to follow when getting your taco salad! Make sure you wash your hands first! Get a plate and fill it with chips, and then crush the chips into small pieces, otherwise everything will start to spill off your plate. When you add toppings to the chips, DO NOT hold your plate above the pots! That way if your food spills, it won't contaminate the other pots. If you fail to remember this, you will be slapped! I have a wooden spoon and I know how to use it! Move quickly and only take one spoonful of each item. You have your choice of beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, olives, pasta and ham. Remember, don't get too close to the pots or you will be spooned!!"

We were half laughing and half terrified through the whole speech, giggling and jostling each other like small school children.
"Oh my God, there are so many rules!" Katie squealed, "I'm so scared!"
"I don't know what to do!!" I yelped in agreement, "I don't want to get hit by a wooden spoon!"
"You can do it!!" a hiker named Yahtzee barked near me. "We survived Poodle Dog Bush, we can survive this!!"

We managed to make it through the line with only a few whacks of the spoon, and then found seats to devour our food. We sat with Sansei and the Chain Gang and laughed about how much the trail sucks when you're hiking it, but somehow everything is funnier in retrospect. ("Remember that time we got dehydrated? Hilarious.") Starfox called it "Type Two Fun." Type Two fun is defined as an activity that is not fun while you are doing it, but afterward, looking back, you realize you learned/ experienced something worthwhile. I thought that described the PCT pretty accurately.

We had fun all evening playing music, laughing with each other until we got the hiccups, and realizing why people stay at the Anderson's so long. Eventually I knew I had to sleep if we were going to hike tomorrow, though, so I turned in at 9:30 and left the party behind for the Manzanita grove, hearing happy voices raging from the house until late into the night.