It was a busy few days before hitting the trail.
The plan was to fly out to San Diego on the Saturday and crash that night at a salubrious Howard Johnson motel near the airport. The flying part went well enough until half an hour in the baggage Hall was enough to suspect my checked luggage and had not made the same journey as I had. Several other people were in the same boat. Annoyingly you have to pass through customs to be able to talk to the 1 baggage handler person. She had sheets pre-printed with our details – she’d known all along our bags had not been loaded into the plane but apparently the best way to communicate that to us was not through a notice in arrivals, better to keep us all guessing for half an hour at what was now 3:30am my time.
After completing the paperwork I got a taxi straight to the “HoJo” and was able to get to sleep by 4:15am my time (8:15pm PST). I managed 7 hours off and on but couldn’t get past 4:45am as my earplugs were in the lost bag and next door snored. Since one cannot travel with things like your camp stove for sure and questions can be raised about hiking poles, tent stakes and the various bric-a-brac of your medical and repair kits you pretty much have to check a bag. As I cannot risk the airline demanding I check my backpack (as it would probably get mangled) I like to keep my pack as small as possible so it can be taken on board without a problem. So I keep my most expensive and hard to replace gear with me but check everything else. That meant I had my sleeping bag and tent and a few clothes but not much else.
The motel was a bit grimy but it did the job.
Frodo, the wifely half of legendary trail angels Scout and Frodo, collected me at lunchtime (I was able to get a Jamba Juice and some sushi beforehand) and took me back to their house. They have several big tents (like mini marquees) in their back garden plus the use of the living room floor so typically host 30-40 hikers a night in peak season. In an ordinary 4 bed 2-bath house. And they feed them 3 meals a day. It’s pretty remarkable.
I soon found that another hiker, Elke, had been one of an impressive nine passengers on her Lufthansa flight to lose their bags. She was now on Day 3 of waiting for it. She was not happy. I started to get worried about mine.
Also at the house were Admiral and Little Brother who I had hiked around a bit in 2016 on the AT. They summitted a day after me and I was able to dig out a photograph I had taken of Little Brother tackling the food challenge at the cafe in Millinocket. As well as talking to other hikers another distraction was watching the frequent visits of hummingbirds to their bird feeder.
After the first half day, Sunday, at Scout’s I went for a 2 hour training hike on Monday to stay in shape and stave off boredom. As well as hummingbirds, fat lizards a-plenty and rabbits I saw my first coyote.
To kill time I also helped several less experienced hikers with pack shakedowns and introduced a nice South Korean hiker called Song to the joys of online resupply store ZeroDayResupply. And later got kimchi for my tortilla in return.
Monday evening was when my bag was supposed to have made the flight to San Diego but when I went to sleep I was nine the wiser if that was indeed the case.