My temper tantrum/pity party/allergic reaction to the desert could not have come (and gone) at a more opportune moment. I wipe my snot and tears onto the already filthy sleeve of my shirt and trudge the last quarter of a mile down the dusty path to Ziggy and The Bear’s.
Ziggy and The Bear are a sweet retired couple who own a house right off the trail in the perpetually hot, windy, and waterless town of Whitewater, California. Every year, with the help of some equally awesome volunteers, Ziggy and The Bear open their home to hordes of PCT hikers looking for respite from the cruel, hard desert.
And respite is what I find. I unlatch the gate and stumble into the backyard where over a dozen weary hikers sit in red plastic chairs or lie on the ground in various states of rest, relaxation, and near comatose.
“Set your pack to the side and have a seat, then someone will bring you your Epsom salt foot bath,” Ron, one of the helpers, says. “And what kind of ice cream do you want?”
I look at Ron, try without success to form a sentence.
“Cookies and cream, vanilla, fudge swirl, strawberries and cream, or rainbow sherbet?”
“Wow. Wow. Umm, wow. Fudge, wow, fudge swirl sounds amazing.”
“Fudge swirl,” Ron says and pencils a tally on his yellow note pad, then ushers me towards an open seat. I collapse into it and strip off my dust-caked gaiters, dirt-crusted trail runners, foul-smelling socks. Peel the duct tape and band-aids off my blisters. Plunge my aching feet into the hot bucket.
“Fudge swirl.” A divine hand reaches down and serves me a red plastic bowl filled with a massive mountain of fudge swirl ice cream. I eat it all.