I can only guess how many years I’ve volunteered at High Desert Trails rally. Five, maybe? Six? Christine, can you tell me?
The last two years, I’ve been stationed up in the mountains west of Kelso Valley, where the PCT crosses the rally stage road southeast of Lake Isabella.
In 2015, I met William Wells (aka: “Cola”) up there as he was attempting his NoBo thruhike. (He’s trying again this year. Good luck, brother.)
Last year (2016), I handed out Hostess fruit pies to half a dozen NoBos at my position. That felt really good; surprising thruhikers with a treat (and much needed calories). I even stashed a little something special for brother Stripe, who texted me when he found it–nearly two months later.
But while these are fond memories, they aren’t traditions. My two HDT traditions are A) giving Co-Organizer Christine a big hug at rally HQ check-in and B) eating a Subway turkey sammich with Cheetos in the high desert (delivered by Christine, who spends all day in the car delivering lunch to volunteers).
And while I’m debating whether or not I really want to spend eight hours driving across the desert to sit by myself in the always either too hot or too cold or too windy (usually two out of three) again in the future, there’s something about knowing I’m helping some of my best friends put on one of the best damn rally races in the country that makes me think the hug and Cheetos are worth it.
Besides, it’s kinda pretty out here.