After just a few miles of trail and hours of snow walking, Jelly Bean, Pineapple and I hit Sunrise Highway. I see the ice break just in the distance, watch it give way to gravel, and I softly collapse just before the paved road. I lay in the snow with eyes closed, counting my breaths. We are so close to Julian I can practically taste it. Jelly Bean and Pineapple help me up and on the side of the road we wait, poised to flip our thumbs out for the first car we see. I stand ready, time passes, and then I sit. I’ll hop up as soon as I hear an engine I think. I’ll scramble and they’ll never know I was sitting at all.
Except no cars come. Sunrise highway has been closed on account of the uncharacteristic snow, it just opened actually, and maybe no one knows it’s passable yet or maybe everyone is just at home. The people of Julian are in their houses with sweaters and friends and giant pots of warm soup. They are listening to records, They are sipping hot cocoa. It isn’t actively snowing anymore, but it’s still cold and nasty, and they know enough to just stay put.
We call a Lyft. I am wet and shivering, the Lyft into Julian is $15— $5 each if we split it. I am not totally sure why, but I feel a stab of shame at calling for help when others might wait it out. Fuck it, though. I think. I don’t have anything to prove.
Jelly Bean, Pineapple and I get to the post office for my resupply box, drop our packs at our bed and breakfast, and walk to the diner. The shelves of the Julian Cafe are sticky wood, lined with mugs. The toilet has a pull string flusher, a dangling block of wood at the end of a large golden chain. We silently chew veggie burgers and onion rings and fries and quesadillas. I keep spilling food in my lap, I am having a hard time keeping up with the conversation.
Pineapple leaves after dinner, she has to get back to work. Jelly Bean and I unpack resupply boxes, organize our food and shower. We hang our shelters and quilts to dry in our tiny bathroom, explode our gear amongst throngs of throw pillows and floral blankets. Finally, we say the truth: we’re not going to take a rest day here like we’d hoped. We’ve been slower than expected, I have a date I need to be back in Tucson, the terrain will get warmer, but it’s not going to get any easier.
With that, it’s settled. Tomorrow- we hike.