Wingman from the Roadside:
“Amazing people do amazing things right when you need them the most”. (Wingman)
For most of the day I stewed over how best to resolve the issue of Runningbird’s malfunctioning tracker. To spare you from my first draft of a long chain of events, here’s the abbreviated version. Late in the afternoon Runningbird’s Mountaineering friend Steve e-mailed and suggested I just order one from Amazon or REI and have them deliver it to one of our next resupply spots. That could take longer than I had the patience for and Runningbird would be going a long distance without it. He was right, I had to get something going. Then Steve mentioned there was an REI in “Folsom”, California. BINGO! Our Southern California hiking friend “Clax” lived in Folsom and we had been continuously communicating with him since the beginning. (Mind you Folsom is about 215 miles from Mammoth Lakes). I called REI Folsom. Nope, not in stock – BUT – REI in Roseville (230 miles) has three! I called Clax. It really was like a quarterback throwing a really long pass and watching the wide receiver (Clax) run the entire length of the field in slow motion and make a perfect reception. Then Clax ran with the ball!
Oh ya, here’s the abbreviated part: Clax grabbed his computer and drove to REI, Roseville (30 minutes away from him). He purchased the new SPOT Tracker with his own money, and set it up in the store with his own computer and had it functional. I asked him when would be convenient for me to get the tracker from him and he said “now”. He insisted it wasn’t wise to have Runningbird out there without a tracker. I was scheduled to meet Runningbird in Yosemite around noon the next day to resupply and it was now 5:30 in the afternoon. Clax chose a spot about half way between us somewhere in the hills south of Lake Tahoe at some little tavern/cafe off Hwy 88 and 89. More curvy mountain roads. It was 8:40 PM when I got there and Clax was waiting. He gave me two big hugs, handed me the tracker, gave me another hug, told me to give Runningbird his best, and we went our separate ways.
It was 11:30 PM when I got back to the trailer in Mammoth. I was exhausted, amazed, and grateful. It’s hard to explain it but it really does something to your heart and perspective when someone you have known less than 44 days will go that far out of their way to help people out.
Runningbird, Alpaca, Timmy, and Clax on DAY 1 of the PCT!