I all but limped into Tehachapi. Following the LA Aqueduct stretch, I experienced pain on the outer part of my left foot. I thought it was my ankle at first, then the bottom of my foot, until I really honed in on the source of the pain coming from a tendon. I worried that the flat aqueduct section might’ve been the culprit, until I realized my foot was sliding inwards with every step due to a huge rip on the instep. There were no stores in town that were really geared towards thru hikers; the closest running store was forty-five minutes away. I called to make sure they had my size in my preferred model and posted on the local trail angel Facebook group. I held my breath and crossed my fingers until I heard a ping on my phone.
Split picked me up within 10 minutes of responding to my Facebook post. On the drive, he peppered me with questions about my hike and told me that he attempted a PCT thru hike the previous year. He has been involved in trail-angeling upwards of a decade. Split became a trail angel by offering rides to hikers, and now even hosts hikers in his home for free. He’s retired now, but cooked dinner for his guests even while he worked full time!
I asked him why he has remained so involved in the PCT community for so many years. He responded simply with the same reason many hikers pursue long distance trails, “the people.” He hosts people from all over the world, people who hold varying political perspectives, and people who each seek something different from their hike. Split gives so much to hikers, but he made it clear that he receives just as much.