Wonderful, the boys made it to at least the bus thanks JStan and hopefully got on their flight with no issues. With any luck we'll hear a little of their story here. Or if not, seems we can tell our own!
Super nice guys and so excited to be climbing in the States. I have no doubt they'll be back.
Big thanks to all who posted, cared to read the thread, emailed personally with offers to help and especially JStan who made it happen! We really do have a wonderful community, something to be thankful and proud of.
You are not going to believe this story. But, hey. You asked for it.
After Cathy and I did the JMT we decided to do the next section of the PCT between Tuolomne and Donner Pass. After reading Jardine a couple more times I figured we could up our daily mileage another 10% to 22 miles per day. So we carried the food for that. Well from Tuolomne north the trail actually goes west and so it is never level. You end up climbing every damn hill there is. We managed to do only 16 miles a day and by the time we reached Walker River and the climb to Sonora Pass it was clear this little outing was not going to end well.
So we hiked the 15 miles leading toward 395. That did not get us to the interstate. Only to the first road where we found a detachment of military practicing mountaineering. After a few minutes the sargent realized if he wanted to avoid having to emergency evacuate two dying hikers, he needed to get us out of there. So an ensign was ordered to drive us the many more miles to 395. I suspect he also felt our presence was degrading the morale and self-confidence of his troopers.
Then it got sketchy. Literally thousands of pickups we would have been privileged to ride in the back of went by with no decrease in speed. I have studied the art of hitching. So I and all the packs stayed behind a sign and Cathy stood out on the shoulder. When no one stopped I considered suggesting she put one leg out in the road, but then thought better of it. Deferred death generally being preferable to the more immediate variety. After three hours we see this wrecky beat up van coming at a great rate. In a way suggesting the driver was either conflicted or suicidal. At the last moment the van came sliding sideways to a halt on the gravel.
I advised Cathy that should the driver come around the end of the van with a hatchet in hand, she was to drop her pack and run like hell up 395. When he appeared my first thought was, “Ah yes. I now understand the van.” Most of the words he used were short but I did not feel we were in a position to be picky. Turns out he had already picked up a couple from France and a young fellow from Germany and the van was full to the gills. When Jimmy gave up trying to decide whether he had room for our packs he just said. “F*#k it! Get in. And we did, I sitting on Cathy’s lap in the death seat.
Using my unparalleled skills (literally true) in communication I attempted to assess Jimmy. Turns out Jimmy had been been working as a snowmobiler guide around Mammoth. When Cathy mentioned we were climbers he said, “I took a class from a climber. His name was Jim. Jim Bridwell." At first I took this as a very good sign. Then I realized knowing Jim Bridwell did not really place any kind of bound on what a person is capable of. None. Jim then suggested we take a side trip into the desert and tour Bode. I thought, “Oh no! Not the desert thing. I have heard about that”. At that moment a rabbit tried to cross the road in front of us and Jim slammed on the brakes and swerved so as not to squash it. My concerns evaporated. As to Bode I said, “Cool! Let’s do it.”
I don’t think it is possible to be a more skilled tour guide than Jimmy Rasinowitz. In perhaps two hours everyone in our rather diverse group saw everything they wanted to see in Bode, fascinating place, and we were back on the road. And we never felt hurried. Phenomenal. Truly phenomenal. When we got back to 395 Jim asked,” anyone hungry? We can eat at the Mobil gas station.” Images of twinkies danced before my eyes but we decided, “Why not?” Well you know how that turned out.
After eating, Jim asked, "where’s your car." I said, “Up in Tuolomne.” He said, “Get the f*#k back in. I’ll take you to your car.” He then went 100 miles out of his way. Maybe more. He did not want to take any gas money but Cathy and I insisted and gave him what we had. From there his plan was to buy a poncho and to go sleep on the beaches of Guam till he thought of something else to do.
To get to this part of the story you had to do a lot of reading. The story has two punch lines.
1. I am the kind of person who has to plan. Jimmy showed me how fascinating and interesting an unplanned life can be. Thanks to Jimmy I understand a little better the choices you youngsters make.
2. I want to ask something of you all. From now on when you meet a wrecky guy who uses short words, I want you to ask, “Jimmy? Jimmy Rasinowitz? Is that really you? If he says yes, you are to say, “I have wanted to meet you for so long! Is there anything I can do for you?”
Sooze did just such an incredible deed when she picked up Sam and Tristan out there in the desert.
No matter how hard I peddle I’ll never deserve all the kindnesses I have received.
jstan, that was a hell of a story, and all so similar to the kindness that was shared to me when I hitchhiked around the Kenai Peninsula ten years ago. I made so many friends hitching, I almost didn't leave.