John Muir Trail: I Heart Hitching

Since I can't get pictures off my camera for a little while, rarely will my cell phone pictures match up to what I'm writing about. I keep forgetting to take a few with my phone, but anyway... It took two hitches to get back to the trail from Bishop. It would have been one if the man giving me a ride in his pickup truck hadn't been summoned to appear in court that afternoon.

"When they pulled me over I had six pounds of marijuana back there," he said and pointed behind his seat where a variety of tools now lay.

"Wow, six pounds?" I said.

"Yeah, but I'm allowed to grow it. It's medicinal," he said. "But I didn't have my paperwork, so they confiscated it and now I have to go to court. Ah well... so where you hiking to?"

"John Muir Trail to Mount Whitney," I said. "I figured it made sense to go south and end on the highest mountain in the lower-48."

"I've climbed Whitney," he said. "But I don't buy that it's the highest." He pointed to another mountain peak, that I forget the name of now, and said, "I've climbed that one too and I don't care what anyone says, that one is six feet higher."

I had no comment, but wondered how much of his medicinal product he was smoking himself.

"I can get you as far as Pine Creek Road," he said. "I'd take you the whole way if I didn't have to be in court."

"So, you'll just show your paperwork and get your six pounds back?" I said, not really knowing what else to say.

"Yeah, well, they say I won't get it back because it turned up missing. Heh... Got smoked or sold by some cops more like it," he said. "So, I'm suing the state."

He took his eyes off the road and glared at me for a couple seconds and said, "I'm asking for three million from those S.O.Bs."

The joy on his face that followed these words made me wonder if he thought the cash was practically in his grasp. And again, not knowing what to say, I said, "Yeah, well you gotta start high, right?"

What is there not to like about hitching? It's becoming one of my favorite ways to travel. You can never predict where the conversation will go.

My next hitch was much more normal, a friendly backpacking couple on a day hike. I was on the side of the road scribbling down some ideas for making my own backpacking gear when they stopped. Turned out he was a gear designer for REI. I liked them a lot and could have talked about backpacking and gear all night, but even if they wanted to hear me jabber on and on about it, I needed to get back over Italy Pass and back onto the JMT.

I have a problem of talking too much these days. It's hard to stop. After living 15 months on trails, I finally have something interesting to talk about.   

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A Backpacker's Life List by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.