Harper and I had company.
Two new friends by the name of Seth and Dan. Seth is a 23-year-old bud trimmer fresh out of college, bent up on a hangover from a big bike trip he took from Connecticut to North Carolina. Dan is a 30-year-old carpenter, living in New Orleans, who took a flight to San Francisco to get outside and try out his new homemade backpack.
Dan got into the creek about an hour after Harper and me. Seth came about 2 hours after that. We had a good night chatting about hiking the Lost Coast, stories from our pasts, and dreams for the future. We went to bed with plans that I would wake them up at 6:00 AM and we would finish the hike, all of us together.
I woke up at 6:25, knowing that I had overslept. I quietly gathered my things, wrangled Harper down to the trail and left without saying goodbye. I wasn’t sure why I wanted to hike alone, but I was intent on doing it.
Two hours later, Harper and I are finally getting to Shelter Cove. We find our way through the residential streets to a café where I grab an espresso and give Harper a milk-bone.
The two of us need to hitch hike a ride 3 hours north back to the Mattole Trailhead where we left the van three days earlier. To make it easier for you, the reader, I will tell the story of our day in reference to the number of rides we got.
#1: Lee, from New York, on a week vacation with a couple of friends to do some hiking on the Lost Coast. A short ride from the coffee shop to an RV Campground. I crack my iPhone screen in the process. Fuck.
#2: Robyn. With a y she says. She is in her mid 50’s wearing a hiked up dress, her skin loose from many seasons of tanning. She is a local, on her way to Eureka to receive medical care after an accident. She won’t specify the accident. We stop to see a young man, her friend, first. She wants to make sure he has found work. He has. She starts driving us up the hill of Shelter cove and talks about how Harper is touching her breasts. I begin to notice the days-old green eyeliner and a missing tooth. I am uncomfortable. She thinks she knows where my destination is. I try to tell her she doesn’t. I get her to drop me off at the top of the hill at the local market. She does. We run into our New York friends I had caught a ride with earlier.
#3: A few minutes after being dropped at the local store, a snazzy X3 BMW rolls up. I give the thumb, and he pulls in. We will call this guy N, to protect this guy’s identity. As silly as it may sound. N is sporting a white designer wife beater, with many chains and necklaces. A ginger, N has a Mohawk that is styled nicely. Messy enough to seem unintentional. N asks where I am going, I tell him Honeydew/Petrolia area.
He lifts his auburn shaded aviators and looks at me. “That’s far man. I can get you as far as Ettersburg Junction. It is a lonely road out there man. You might not get a ride for hours.”
I nod and get in the car. We get to talking. He explains that he is in the “industry.” Self-employed. I start asking questions that I would be too nervous to ask in any other situation, but something about N makes me feel at ease. Perhaps it is his nice BMW. He begins explaining his story, raised in the mid-west, travelled for years before settling down here. Likes his life. Is making good money. Really good money. Like a couple million a grow season, type of money. I just try to ask good questions that will get him talking. My caffeine high is ending and I am hungry, I have only eaten a carrot in the 6 hours since I left camp, but I keep quiet. He just keeps telling me all about the scene here.
I ask about the Bulgarians (See previous post). He laughs, “The Bulgarians are a guest here.” Plus, they are a good distraction for the Feds, or so he says.
We get to Ettersburg, but he likes me and the conversation. He says he will take me to Honeydew. We drive and drive. He tells me about India. Gives me the name of a guy who owns a motorcycle shop. He tells me the name of the motorcycle to buy, the package to get, how much it will cost. He laughs and says, “You need to do this.” I agree and I am serious. I want to please him.
He tells me some teachings of the Buddha and offers wise words of personal growth. I listen intently, though the lack of food was beginning to do weird things to me.
We pull into Honeydew and he lets me out. Gives me a huge clasp of the hands and a hug. We both smile and he drives away. Hello, Honeydew.
From Honeydew, I need to travel roughly 17 miles to the Mattole Beach Trailhead, not far; a sure bet or so I think. For the next 5 hours I am stuck in Honeydew, which consists of a burger shop and a corner store on what is essentially a dirt road. During my time, I meet all the locals: from the woman who owns a Christian mission, rescues dogs, and pulls out a bigger marijuana nug than I have ever seen in person, to a man that used to be local and just complains about changes to the area. He gives me a Powerade.
#4: Two beautiful girls roll up in a white beaten-up Mazda. One is Spanish, the other Argentinian. We share a cigarette and they offer me a ride only a couple miles down the road. I need to get out of Honeydew so I agree. We get in the car and speak some Spanglish. They drop me off 5 minutes later on a deserted high mountain country road. Here we go again. It is about 4:30 PM.
Truck after truck passes me. An hour goes by. Finally, a van that passed me on its way to Honeydew, comes back the other way and picks me up.
#5:Two Canadians named Colin and Doug. Both with beers in hand, many crushed all over the floor. "You boys are gonna party tonight?" I ask. "Nope, we are just Canadian," they say. "We like to drink." They get me another couple miles down the road, to the Mattole Grange, a community center out in Humboldt County. Harper does not want to leave the Canadian's van. She is curled up on a sleeping bag and looks at me with disgust as I pull her out. It is almost 6 PM and we are 13 miles away.
An hour and half goes by. I get passed by 50some cars. Finally, a beefed up truck picks me up.
#6:He was born and raised here. No name. His family has been in the business for generations. He drives 75 miles in 35 mph zones, passing people without any signals. I am scared shitless, but happy to be getting closer. He drops me off at the bridge to Petrolia, right at the turnoff to Mattole Beach. 4 miles away.
Harper and I get to walking.
We walk about a quarter of a mile when a van pulls up.
#7: "I can get you a half-mile down the road. Sorry." We hop in, and then hop out.
We continue walking. I have my headlamp on. Its 8:30. A truck zooms by, then hits the brakes, and throws it in reverse.
#8: “Hop in man! The engine is hot.” He isn’t kidding, the engine is smoking bad. I drop Harper in the bed of the truck, hop in and we get another half-mile down the road.
We keep walking. So close, and Harper can smell it.
#9: A white Toyota 4Runner. Very nice. A young couple. These are the first people that picked me up today that were not felons of some sort. Or at least, not in the way most people in Humboldt County are. They are on their way to do the same hike. They drive Harper and me the remaining way. 9PM and back to Van. I start her up and she fires. We hang out for a couple hours. They give me some beers and a nice dehydrated lasagna meal for later. I hit the hay. Harper is fast asleep. It feels good to be home.
A long day; one of those days when a day doesn’t quite seem like a day. A day this full of new experiences seems to warp Time; so much can occur in one day and nothing can occur in the next. Yet they are the same unit of time; however, their importance or their influence may be drastically different. Days like today make me realize how much can happen in one day, all it takes is one day to change the way you view the world. That, and breathing the Humboldt air, are enough to get you stoned.