The best way to determine how Hobo you have become is the ripples you effect in the people who witness you. For example, if a couple of moms get out of their giant SUV in the parking lot that you just happen to be cooking in, accompanied by a couple of little girls and your hoboness has reached the level of full time bums, you should expect the little girls to ask about petting your dogs and be sure that the moms will say no and make sure that they don’t make eye contact as they rush past you to get to the trail that they don’t really plan on hiking.
Furthermore, you should expect, at this juncture of your journey to be shunned by most and those who don’t will offer you treats for your dogs. Yes, you read that correctly. If you are hanging out in a parking lot, looking very much like a hippy commune, random people will approach you and offer you treats for your dogs. I’m not sure why, but that’s just what happens. Well, at least if you are the level of hobo that we were on Day 4 of our trip.
Where are we headed?
Home. That’s where. We didn’t have any more epic passes to go over, no more long days, just a more or less simple jaunt down the mountain. The biggest obstacle we had were the mosquitoes that were still plaguing our camp as we broke it down in the morning. Our biggest obstacle awaited us at the trailhead. Seeing that we were unable to get over Hopkins Pass, we were exiting to a spot that was about a 30 minute drive from our four-wheeled coffin.
We had hopes and dreams that some kind soul would be at the trailhead (which if you think about it is a euphemism for place we destroyed so you could conveniently get here in your four-wheeled coffin) and would be willing to take at least one of us to our transport box so we could get home. Or more accurately, we could get to our mid-drive home camp in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest located in the White Mountains.
The trail followed, paralleled and crossed McGee Creek until it dumped us out at the end of McGee Creek Road. It’s been a minute, but I don’t remember more than 30 feet of going up. We dropped out of the mountains and into the dry, eastern side of the Sierra. The vegetation changed and the temperatures began to climb as we headed down.
Significant Stuff that may have Happened
When you are standing at the edge of a camp you just broke down, doing your last idiot check to make sure you didn’t leave any of your 17 belongings you have with you behind, there’s a bitter sweet sentiment of knowing you are going home. On the one hand, the past four days are what you want to do. Given the opportunity to do whatever your hear desired, you would wander around in the desert, in the wilderness and learn what the true hobo already knows, there is only real freedom in simplicity and necessity.
And on the other hand, a shower, a cold beer, a soft bed, your loved ones faces, being able to push a pedal to move at 85 miles per hour to get to wherever you want because they have already cut the roads through every section of land you would ever want to go to, all sound appealing and the idea of comfort becomes an alluring mistress.
It’s also a moment, at least for me, that I vacillate between those worlds. In reality, it only takes bravery to take a look toward your exit and simply walk the other way. If you’ve planned right, you still have some food. You have everything you need proven by your ability to still move after four days of not having anything else than what you are currently carrying. There is an implicit weakness in an exit and a longing to not feel obligated to make those steps down that path to those comforts that you love.
However, there is a strength displayed when one returns to the obligations they have made. Taking those first steps down that path toward the life we left behind a few days ago, back to the normal daily grind, yes, it’s a bitter sweet moment.
When we arrived at the trailhead, there were a bunch of people milling about and Bro Meinkey was able to score a ride in quick order. The rest of us set about brushing our teeth, bathing in the stream and cooking in the parking lot. If you’ve never cooked in a parking lot, you should try it sometime. It might feel awkward at first. You might feel a little bit too self-aware as people walk by and give you sideways glances, but it’s liberating to get to a point where you really have no fucks left to give.
The PLANNER made it back. We loaded up the jalopy and headed toward cold beer. Cold beer was followed up by driving toward the White Mountains. The pink rainbow ear phones left in the back of the car by one of the Meinkey’s kids were passed around as we took turns zoning into our own world and doing nothing else but listening to our own music.
Our epicness was done.