Pct miles: 454.4 to 469.5 (+1 from Hiker Heaven)
Miles: 16.1

I woke up early. I slept in the trailer so I didn’t have to pack my bag in the morning, but that also meant I had to try to sleep with people talking late into the night, so it wasn’t the best night’s sleep ever. I got up and filled my water bottles and then was walking by 530. Rawhide was planning to leave with me but she wasn’t up yet, and i figured she’d catch me anyway because her pace is faster. 

The first 3 miles or so were a roadwalk and I really didn’t want to do it – I thought of Forest Gump running across the country and then coming to a stop, saying something like: I think I’ll go home now.

I think I’ll go home now, I thought.

But that’s how I feel when I leave town, so I kept walking. It was hot even though it was early and I found myself stopping regularly in the shade. 

I had service and texted Rawhide and found out she was having a really bummer morning and was struggling to leave and I wouldn’t likely see her that night. Between that and the heat I realized 24 miles definitely wasn’t going to happen. I got to the water source and set up my tent around noon (the bugs were bad and I needed a nap) and passed out for an hour. Unfortunately I’d set up underneath a crow’s nest and some birds took two very big poops on my tent, which I had to clean off with a baby wipe. 

I left the water around 4 planning to go between 5 and 11 more miles (I’d done 10 to the water.) Not even an hour later I was crossing the road and there were two women doing trail magic with sodas, juice, v8 and a trunk full of snacks and a bunch of chairs. 

We (me and several other hikers I’d been bumping into and breaking with all day) sat with them for 30 minutes or so before doing the next climb. I came the last campsite marked on GutHooks for the next 6 miles but no one was there, the cell service was spotty, it was right next to a power line… and I knew my legs had a little more juice in them. So I kept hiking. It was 7 and I was going to run out of daylight soon and I resolved that I might have night hike. Instead, I heard voices coming out of the bushes and found Mountain and Tallboy up a little hill. I set my pack down and started setting up my tent.

“You’re gonna do a tent?” Mountain said.

“It’s a perfect night for cowboy camping.” Tallboy said.

And I knew they were right, and I’d been meaning to try it, and I wanted to get up and moving quickly the next day anyway….

So I put my tent away and set myself up for cowboy camping. I ate some ramen for dinner and changed into my pajamas and laughed at the boys’ jokes and then fell asleep, just me and the stars.