Waking up in a town called Independance . Im stiff , sore and very very thirsty . We spend the day hitching to Bishop and check into the Hostel California . A fantastic hikers haven . Free beer and hotdogs . Excellent !
Hitching and bus travel opens up my American experience to connecting with the everyday folks of the States . Some of these experiences are heart warming , some heart breaking ,such as Bob who drives us the forty miles to Bishop and tells us about his dreams to walk the PCT . He has battled with pain killer addiction and is now ready to step onto the path to walk a few hundred miles to his daughters house . The enthusiasm in his truck is palpable . The American pharmaceutical companys aggresivly target marginal and low education groups . By creating fear through TV advertisments the big drug companys create compliant social acceptability for addiction . Its moraly and ethicaly twisted .
I spend the next Zday watching the Euro soccer final in Rustys bar . Less said , soonest mended .
I head off on my 3rd Zday on a bus to Carson and make my way to Tahoe to catch up with Gus and pick up my post box . Ive also got to post my ice axe , crampons and old back pack to the UK . The post office makes me figit . Im so hungry for nature and the wild , that this stale and sterile environment makes me more than uncomfortable .
On the 4th Zday we get on a bus to Reno and book into Circus Circus to wait for our final connection to Chester where we can get back onto the trail . The bus journeys here have shown me Americas social issues . Crack heads and crazys are a real issue here in the States . It is such a stark contrast from the simple and perfect flow of nature . These people , washed on the shore of society , are the symptom of a broken culture . A culture shared by all western nations . Our broken and bungled , marginalised and mangled by the wheels of progress .
I stop and talk to Maria at the Carson bus stop . All in red velvet with silver hair.She speaks ALL of her thoughts out loud , listening to her is confusing and challenging . I stay with her as her eyes dart wildly and she struggles with our simple interaction . She claims i am a wizard and tells me ‘you are on a special pathway’ I smile brightly in her eyes I now see a prophetess not a bag lady . I thank her and wish her well .
Later in Reno we find a cheap shared room with :’Really sorry’ and ‘Happy snatch’ . They are also on the way to Chester . An hour on the streets of Reno only confirms that the heart of this city beats around gambling , prostitution and narcotics . Reno is not going to make its way onto my top-ten list of PCT must sees .
Cant wait to get the heck out of Dodge(y) City .
We head to the bus station and ask about the Chester bus . It doesnt run over the weekend . Two more nights in Reno ? Hmmmm! Plan B , take the red eye to Ashland , a 20hour road trip on the Greyhound . Gus and I are gutted , but staying in this town is not really an option . We buy tickets and waste the day at the cinema . The following bus journey is painful and uneventful , but has the massive upshot of delivering us to beautiful Ashland , where I hear Mr Johny Depp has a place . I dont blame him , it is a real treasure of beautiful old brick buildings from the late 1800’s , old wooden houses built full of character , and all bordered with wonderful lush trees and grass .
Oregon is a state that has fully legalised both the medicinal and recreational use of Marajuana . Wherever we stand philosophicaly or ethicaly with this issue , its clear that times are changing very very very quickly in the USA . The hemp plant is a massive cash crop and legal in about fifty percent of American states . Its now responsible for a huge shift in painkiller and pharmaceutical substance abuse . The main growth area of users is in the senior sector . Over 60’s and pensioners are finding relief from pain and stress . I decide out of curiosity to pop into a dispensary . Its all above board , and reminds me of a dentists office . I chat to the nurse who explains how this movement is really finding validity in mainstream America . Im offered a type of marajuana high in CBD and low in THC(Penny Wise) This strain of the plant will reduce muscle swelling and bone fatigue and not give me a head ‘high’ . For seven quid , im of course curious . I know as we all do that painkillers are both addictive and in some cases fatal . The Rolling Stones were singing about it fifty years ago . Their hasnt been a viable natural alternative to these ‘mothers little helpers’ for so many years , not untill now . I can clearly see that this ancient plant making a re-emergance can be a healthy part of all of our futures . Welcome home to the magical medicene of marajuana !
Im in Big Als diner for lunch , a real old school diner ,the Beatles ‘Twist and shout’ is playing on the jukebox and ive got a chocolate shake and a quater pounder . Im looking out the window and i notice something odd about the scene . I have to really struggle to see what im looking directly at , because my brain doesnt want to believe what its seeing . A yound deer is grazing on the lawn on the other side of the road . I look around to see if anyone else has noticed . The other diners seem to be taking it in their stride . I watch the young doe for a happy half hour , as i negotiate the slurpy bit at the end of the shake . I dont have my camera with me . Its on charge back at the Ashland Hostel . Some things are just in the moment ,and what a wonderful moment it was .
The day drifts by , i finish my extended Zday break at a little pub just off the main square in the heart of this lovely old town .’The Black Sheep’ , they do a grand Irish stew and their Guiness is the cats PJs . I am celebrating my journey , my roots and my path onward . The way home begins here . Im walking my way back to where i belong . With love , with thanks , with a couple of pints of black gold inside me .