Day 3 – Zero in Laguna

I woke up at around 7:30, yay I slept in!  Today was my first zero day.  The prospect seemed weird to me, I don’t have to work, I don’t have to hike, I don’t have a house or computer or house cleaning to do.  So what does a person do?  Buying groceries certainly won’t take long.  My first order of business is to get a new water filter, but I’m sure the outdoor outfitter in Laguna isn’t open yet.  So I just sat in my tent for a while and watched the sun illuminate the thin walls of my new home gradually as the morning progressed.

Eventually I started to slow-roast in my silnylon oven and started packing up my gear.  I hobbled out of the campground on my way to the store to get my filter, and was delighted to see it was just down the road.  Mount Laguna and I are going to get along great, I just know it.

I was still there before they opened, so I made myself comfortable on one of the plastic chairs on the front patio.  I found the trail register outside the store and signed: “I Love Mount Laguna!  I hate sunburns!”.  I sat there for a while until a car pulled up and I was immediately offered some kind of amazing hot green tea and the greatest hiker granola bar thing of my life.  I was in a sate of bliss and didn’t realize that there were a group of hikers outside, and I certainly didn’t notice that the store had opened.

I walked into the little store crammed of hiker dreams: lightweight gear galore!  I was shown to the water filters and was also handed a new backflushing attatchment.  Yay new things!  Yay clean water!  I love clean water.  I just love water in general.  Water is good.  I walked down the street feeling smitten and saw a sign for lodging.  I stood outside the building debating whether or not to get a room.  On one hand, a bed and a shower sounded great, but on the other I love sleeping outdoors.  I went in to check the rates and suddenly I was being seated down for breakfast.  I mean hey, it’s food right?  I was briefed on the lodging situation and I was handing my card over moments later.  I sat down drinking my amazing can of Coke with the utmost of joy when I was informed that my card was declined.

WELP.

I don’t have service!  Damn you T-Mobile!  I love you but I hate you!

I sprinted down to the general store and asked for some kind of outside-world communication capability and a phone was thrown at me moments later without a word.  I tried calling my bank with the number found on the back of my card.  Here I am, a guy all the way out in Southern California dreaming of hiking all the way to Canada stuck in a little town with no service with a blocked card.  Now pan up all the way to Washington to some guy named Joe (placeholder name).  Joe probably works late nights somewhere.  Joe was still asleep when his phone  rang.  Who the hell could that be?  He answers, voice cracking: “Hello?”

Now pan back down to me “Is this BECU?  The bank?”

“Uh.. what?”

“I’m trying to get ahold of my bank”

“….No?”

“Oh okay, sorry!”

So the phone number on the back of my card is wrong.  I know this for a fact because I bothered this poor man twice.  Sorry dude.

Well I have cash, and I don’t need a room.  All is well, I can still buy my resupply and pay for breakfast.  Oh, right!  Breakfast!  I ran back down to the lodge and appologized for the hassle and canceled the room reservation.  I assured them I could still pay for my food however.  It was brought out to me promptly and I started eating it but didn’t really taste it, I was a little freaked out by my situation.  I finished it anyways, paid, and left.

I crossed the street and went back into the general store to buy my next wave of nutritious hiker food: potatoes, tuna, poptarts or some sugary breakfast thing, granola bars.  Yum?  Nah, it’s actually pretty good if you treat it right.  I came out with my bag o’ loot and started to throw it into my backpack.  As I turned my pack a little to get all this goodness to fit, I noticed one of my trekking poles was missing the bottom.  My poles extend out with a flick lock instead of being a fixed length.  If you pull them out too far, you can pull the whole thing apart.  Mine did this by itself and fell on the ground somewhere.

WHY?!

I went into a bit of a frenzy.  I needed these poles to limp around on my bad knee.  I asked around if anyone had seen them, sprinted down to the outdoor store and asked around.  No one had seen it.  I walked up to the lodge and found it lying innocently in the grass.  I laughed, picked it up, and went back to the store feeling victorious.  PHEW.

I went back to camp with a full pack and hung out for a while.  I sat at a picnic table rummaging through my bag when a man appeared from the forest.  He came near me saying something I couldn’t understand, but it sounded like a question.  I did the natural thing and just said “Yeah man come on over!”.  After he introduced himself i realized I knew him from one of the three PCT Facebook groups.  We sat there for a while and chilled in the camp for a while until he went on his town run.  I sat back and watched his gear for him, which amounted to me laying on top of the table with my pack under my head, hat pulled over my head, and occasionally eyeballing his stuff while I took a pseudo-nap in the sun.  Life is gooooooood.

The rest of the day was spent trying to get ahold of my dad who I was going to hang out with in town for the remainder of my zero, which proved very difficult when neither of us had phone service.  But as things go on the trail, it all worked out and somehow we crossed paths at precisely the right moment.  We went and got food, then got a room.  I showered and washed my clothes, and passed out a while later.

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