Chapter 15: Resupply
Our extra mileage wasn't totally lost. The junction that told us we'd come miles too far was a spur trail that turned into a dirt road leading to a final two miles back along the highway to the town we were heading to all along. So yes, we went six miles too far but were fortunately able to loop back around instead of doubling back- maybe traveling eight miles altogether extra instead of 12. And so by noon we were in the very small, long-awaited, country town of Picog (pronounced "pie, cog").
If I were alone I would have been stressed out for days about going into town and having to interact with people. I would have felt self-conscious and uncomfortable. I would have been nervous about everything I had to do, and eager to do it as quickly as possible. But with a partner, with Oliver, it was an occasion.
The town of Picog had a post office, some kind of stone, city building that was maybe not open in any way anymore, a small antique store, a hardware/outdoor store, a ranger outpost, and a small grocery store that was more like a full-featured convenience store. There was no pizza.
There was no pizza!
We sat on a curb in front of a tiny, defunct gas station, stunned and heartbroken, and said absolutely nothing for 20 minutes.
"C'mon." I said. "Let's go get my package at the post office."
My box was there, which, admittedly, was a relief to me. We took it outside and opened it up. There were batteries, candles, The Sirens of Titan paperback, a Surely you're Joking Mr. Feynman paperback, a pair of socks, a nauseating amount of salami, a thick package of toasted seaweed, and bag after bag of more gorp. In complete, pure, and unequivocal misery I was staring at it thinking that the most foolish mistake I had ever made in my life was planning a 2,700 mile hike based on the same miserable food over and over: Seaweed, dry salami, and, albeit with some variations in construction, bag after bag after bag after bag after bag after bag of gorp. I felt sick at the sight of it.
And then an equally depressed Oliver leaned in to see what was in my box, and...
Absolutely lit the hell up!
And then he burst into tears.
So after that I didn't feel quite as bad about the whole thing.
"Let's go see what they've got at that grocery store." I said after a bit.
The grocery store was not terrible. In fact, after the shock of no pizza I was starting to adjust to having all that extra pizza money to blow in the grocery store, and then some. First, we bought two cokes out of the cooler and took them outside to guzzle. As I write this now I haven't had a coke in years probably, and I don't miss it, but my god, back then, that blast of cold, and the sharp sugar when I was half-starved and dehydrated was probably one of the great culinary events of my life.
Sitting outside we carefully planned our grocery store trip like an assault on Smaug's treasure. I gave us each $30 and we agreed on the instructions that both basically came from me:
1. Nothing too heavy.
2. Nothing that reproduced the contents in the gorp in any way.
When we walked out of town with our newly bulging packs Oliver's looked particularly ridiculous. He had tied numerous bags of Doritos onto the exterior of his pack so that it looked like a great, puffed-up carapace of junk food. He had, I would later learn, violated rule number two with a series of root vegetables from the store's small produce section secreted deep in his pack. But I was not one to criticize, having done the same with four bottles of Coca-Cola.