PCT mile start: 77
PCT mile end: 85.1

Miles today: 8

Snakes: 1

Rattlesnakes: (1?)

This is the first night I haven’t especially looked forward to writing. I’m feeling kind of down. But here we go.

Started the day fresh and well rested. I’d fallen asleep writing my blog and so woke up and went downstairs to sit in the breakfast area and write. A man was setting up the continental breakfast and said they didn’t open until 730 (it was 630) but let me sit down anyway. We chatted a little about the trail and he said how smart and friendly the hikers were (he didn’t mention how dirty.)

An hour or so later the group came down to join me. We ate fresh fruit and I drank tea and decaf coffee. My brother called so went back to the room and chatted with him for a little while. Then all of us slowly got our things together and checked out. Karma and I ate the leftover food we hadn’t finished from last night after hearing it up in the hotel’s microwave. Karma went looking for a postcard and I went hunting for the rest of my resupply, enough to last me 2.5 days. I stopped by Carmen’s first and a hiker named Tarentino walked with me looking for his own resupply. The group made a plan to head down to Scissor’s Crossing early to hang out by the water cache until the sun was less intense and try to do around 8 miles, but then Twerk decided to stay in Julian until a little later.

We got a hitch almost immediately from a man and woman who were on vacation. The man had section hiked several parts of the PCT. They were sweet and allowed all three of us (Karma, Amelia and me) to squeeze in the backseat. 

We sat under the underpass with some other hikers until around 330 and then headed up the hill. Amelia and Karma both managed to get some trail magic from some people who are hiking the trail next year but I managed to miss it. Amelia and Karma got ahead of me and stayed that way for about 5 miles. Most of the time I would turn a corner and see them across the way on the farther ridge or above me on a switchback, but around mile 5 I couldn’t see them and worried they’d gotten really far ahead. I started telling myself that even if they felt good and went past our planned 8 miles, I was sticking to 8. My body was asking for it. But they hadn’t gotten ahead. The were waiting for me and snacking around the corner. 

After the break, we started talking about Twerk who, to the best of our knowledge, was still in town. It felt weird not to have him in the group, and I started saying things like, yeah, it’s weird, that’s the nature of the trail, etc. Karma and Amelia started to talk a little about wanting to do 20 mile days in the near future, but Amelia said she was in no rush to get to Warner Springs. “You’ll have me for at least a couple more days,” she said.

After that, we got kind of quiet, and I realized I was feeling sad. Sad because I really like the people I’m hiking with and it’s sort of inevitable we’ll go our separate ways. Sad because my body won’t allow me to hike as fast as them (my calves and ankles still seem generally tight and I don’t want to push too hard to injury). Sad because the trail in general seems to be getting less populated and people we’ve hiked with are getting farther ahead of us. Cathleen passed mile 100 already, as did Sprite and Soulfire. 

I didn’t say anything to Karma, who was hiking right behind me. I kept waiting for her to ask to pass me because I’m slower than her, but she didn’t. We just hiked like that silently with Amelia up ahead. Then Amelia pulled aside to dig a cathole and Karma and I kept going, wanting to find the campsite before dark. “See you in a few,” I said to Amelia.

About 100 feet past where we left Amelia, we heard a rattlesnake buzz on the rocks to our right. It buzzed after we already passed and it made us paranoid around the rest of the rocks. The trail curved beside the mountain so we ended up parallel to where we’d left Amelia and called across the rivet to tell her to be on the lookout for the snake. She said okay. Then we kept walking.

We continued to walk in the mostly quiet, occasionally making a remark about being nervous about snakes. Finally we got to the campsite and I pulled out my phone to confirm we were at the right one when o saw a series of texts from Amelia.

By the time I called her some other hikers had come up behind her and so she wasn’t alone. “You don’t need to come back,” she said. 

Karma and I got to work setting up camp. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if they’d made it around the snake. Eventually, right before the sun went fully down, I saw Amelia walking toward us. Karma and I called out woohoos and helped her set up her tent (“I’m not cowboy camping tonight,” she said. No kidding!) She and the hikers behind her had descended off the trail and done some scrambling to get past the snake. 

We wanted to eat hot food but the wind was blowing pretty rough so we ate in our tents instead. I had a tortilla with cream cheese, a tuna packet and pretzels, and afterward a snickers. 

But I still felt kind of sad. When I finished eating, I called out, “I’m feeling weirdly bummed right now.”

“Me too,” Amelia said.

“Yeah, I’m feeling sad too,” Karma said. We mused that it is probably not being here with Twerk and slowly seeing our group disband, Karma mentioned hiking at sundown always seemed kind of somber to her, Amelia said she’d felt sad when we were talking about splitting up later in the trail, I said we’d always had a big group to welcome us at the end of the day before. 

It could be that we were hungry and extra tired, too. But really it is kind of hard out here to be a human. A lot seems to happen every day, simple human things, and the world doesn’t quite work the way we’re used to, and we can’t hold onto people the way we might prefer. We have to live knowing we’ll have to let each other go.

Tonight I’m grateful for clean – like really clean – underwear. That the wind has calmed as I write this. To not be alone on a mountain tonight. For friendships, however long they may last.