June 1, 2015
Hwy 138-Santa Clarita (517.6)
0 miles today
530.6 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 0 ft, – 0 ft
Well that’s one way to spend a zero! Pickles and I just got home after an incredibly fun (and exhausting) day riding roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain. We were at the park from open to close and rode as any rides as humanly possible (11 to be exact), even utilizing our strong hiking legs to run us through the park when walking would have wasted too much time. It wasn’t the most relaxing or restful way to spend a zero, but it was thrilling and fun and we don’t regret it for a second.
Unfortunately, even though it was a Monday and school is supposed to still be in session, plenty of schools had chosen today to celebrate their graduates and there were hundreds of 8th and 12th graders filling up the park, so lines were longer than we expected. In fact, even though we still got lots of coasters in, we did spend a good majority of the day waiting in lines…something very foreign to two people who have spent every moment freely walking along a trail without obstruction. It felt weird to stand around for so long, moving forward a step or two at a time, surrounded by other stationary people. Actually, there was quite a bit of culture shock coming from the PCT into an LA theme park.
This morning, before the gates opened, we were standing in a sea of hundreds of people, surrounded on all sides by selfies, text messages, gossip, and every sense of style you can imagine. It was a whole different realm of “nature” and it felt much more foreign (and dirty…so many germs everywhere!) to us than walking through plants and insects and dusty trails. As the day went on, I actually felt myself missing my little animal and insect friends. I thought more than once about all the millions of ants going about their busy work, the timid lizards sunning themselves on rocks, and the spastic gnats gathering in swarms in cool, shaded places. As wonderful as today’s adventure was, I really did miss “home”, the rocky/dusty/sandy path beneath my feet, the hot sun on my back, and “Big Orange”, our mansion of a tent that beckons us in at the end of every challenging day. I missed the trail, but it certainly didn’t keep me from enjoying the thrill of flying at insane speeds through the air, strapped into a swirling, twirling chair.
Our three favorite rides of the day were the newly reopened Twisted Colossus (an old wooden coaster that they added steel onto for an incredibly fun and scary ride), X2 (a full-sensory 360 degree spinning coaster), and our last ride of the night, Full Throttle. This last coaster gave us a bit of a scare when it took off, ready to burst into its 70 mph speeds, and then stopped abruptly only 10 feet from the gates. At first we thought it was a joke, since the operator had been having some fun starting the ride when least expected, but when he called over a supervisor and they got on a phone, we realized there was an actual problem. All we kept thinking was that if it had stopped 10 seconds later, we would have been suspended upside down on the world’s tallest looping coaster. They ended up reversing the ride, making us all get off, and doing two test runs (the ghost train seemed a bit eerie with the full moon shining brightly above our heads), and then letting us back on. After a fast take-off and a huge, glorious loop (offering a memorable upside-down sight of LA’s city lights), the ride dived into a dark, red-lit tunnel…and then stopped. We feared the worst, and then when it started going backwards I honestly thought that it was another glitch and we were definitely about to die, but then it flew forward again, finishing up with another grand loop and dropping us at the finish line, spooked, giddy, and absolutely thrilled.
Believe it or not, the greatness that was today didn’t even end there. We left the park and headed straight for the mall, where I hoped to fulfill my longtime craving for a blizzard from Dairy Queen. On our way out we noticed the Cinnabon that had just closed and I joked that I could eat that too if I let myself. Pickles off-handedly remarked that we could always ask for “day-olds” and so we went for it. Unbelievably, the woman closing up handed over a whole tray filled with Cinnabon products, and we each grabbed some, now armed with tomorrow’s breakfast!
Today was such a great break from the trail, but we’re still eager to get back out there and finish up the desert so we can move on to bigger and better things, namely, the Sierras. We’ve realized that the trail is now our “normal” and today just felt like a bizarre and exciting vacation to a whole other world, where humans of every description stand around, eat expensive food, and strap themselves into spinning, speeding steel machines. I’m not sure you could find two more opposing experiences than Six Flags and the Pacific Crest Trail.