Bad Stomach – Day 45: Tyler Horse Canyon to Tehachapi

PCT miles: 541.5 to 558.5
Miles: 17

I don’t get up early and neither does Rawhide. We sleep in and get moving around 630 and 7. Mountain passes me but I catch him again on a break and we muse about how fast the shade disappears.

The climb isn’t as bad as I expected but my stomach is cramping again and it’s making me not want to eat, all of which makes me slow and low energy. I take several breaks in patches of shade and eventually reach the top, where there is a water cache and all of my friends sitting – glorious. We move a little farther because a friend has texted that there’s trail magic in the form of watermelon and cookies, but when we look we don’t find it. Instead we set up in the shade of some trees. I try to eat and my stomach continued to twist, even though it’s growing in hunger. 

It’s another 8 miles to town, mostly downhill. I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack for the first time and let it distract me as much as possible. I have to frequently unclip my hip belt when my stomach cramps and stop in the shade and throw myself a pity party. I decide that in town I’m going to see a doctor – I can’t hike if I can’t eat. 

I reach the trail head and there are trail angel celebrities Legend and Coppertone doing trail magic. I feel too sick to take partake in their root beer floats and spaghetti, but I do take fresh water and a seat and they’re so kind to me (even though they’re convinced my stomach is just a problem of the heat) that I have to hold back tears.

Two other local trail angels, Dogbite and his partner, are there and they give me a ride to town and the Best Western where my friends have gotten a room I can share. It’s around 8 pm when I arrive and they’ve saved me a spot on the bed next to Rawhide. It’s two rooms that connect to each other and our room becomes a designated “quiet room”, which I appreciate. 

Tomorrow I plan to see a doctor in the morning, resupply for both this section and for a box to send to Kennedy Meadows, and go see Wonder Woman, which is playing at the theatre in town.

Shade Sleeping – Day 44: Cottonwood Creek Bridge to Tyler Horse Canyon

PCT miles: 534.9 to 541.5
Miles: 6.6

Rawhide and I mutually don’t get up to go hike a few more miles. Instead I sleep until the sun starts heating up my tent, so I move my tent and sleep some more until it comes for me again. Then I pack up my tent and just lay on the ground. There are probably 30 hikers doing the same, setting up in the shade and moving their positions when the shade disappears.

It is amazing how much I sleep today. I wake briefly and make myself ramen and then lay down again. I’ve never seen so many hikers be this quiet. Normally it would be a party, but today it’s sleep and shade. 

The plan is to hike out in the evening. We’re only going to go a few miles. This would let us hike into Tehachapi the day after. 

Around 2 pm I see a bunch of hikers quickly get up and one yells – trail magic! A hiker from last year, Z, has driven up with coolers full of soda and fruit and hot dogs. The entire group of hikers get up and we crawl above the bridge to get magic and meet Z. Z didn’t expect to see so many hikers – who would? – and so makes a quick plan to head back to town for more supplies. In the meantime we set up his grill and he cooks us some hot dogs.

I eat, but my stomach isn’t feeling good. I assume it’s from the heat or from the night hiking and that it will be fine by tomorrow. 

We sit around. Z makes more food but I don’t take it because of my stomach and around 630 we hike out. As I’m hiking my stomach starts cramping and everyone gets ahead of me. The wind has also really picked up and the gusts are knocking me around the trail. I end up night hiking the last hour and a half by myself, being hit with the wind on a thin mountain trail while being totally afraid of the possibility of a cougar, and the only wildlife I encounter is a garter snake. 

But I make it to camp and set up my tent. Rawhide says she’s going to try to get up at 3 but I don’t think that’s a possibility for me. I crawl in my tent and the wind blows it around, blowing my sleeping quilt inside, too. I strap my quilt to my pad and that solves that. It’s a warm night, I’m not even cold, but it’s nice to have. And then I fall asleep. 

The LA Aqueduct – Day 43: Wee Vill Market to Cottonwood Creek Bridge

PCT mile: 517.6 to 534.9

Mikes: 17.3
I wake up around 630 and go to the market for breakfast. I eat French toast, eggs, hasbrowns and sausage. I am so thankful for this grill being here. I sit with Rawhide, Twerk and several others from the group. 

Twerk to Rawhide: “I saw you looking at that guy’s butt.”

Rawhide: “Actually I was looking at his pancake.”

I call home and get an update on everything and then my friend Natalie texts me so I call her, too. She wants to try to come hike with me sometime soon. 

I take down my tent around 10 am because the shade is gone. I seek out some shade under a tree and take a nap there. Today is a day of napping whenever the urge calls – the plan is to night hike the notorious LA Aqueduct section, 17 miles of flat dirt roadwalking with no shade, hence the night hike. Temperatures have been in the 90s, damn near unbearable even with shade, especially when the wind is low. 

So it’s a nap, and then lunch, although my brain seems to be hungrier than my body because I keep ordering and not finishing food – the food is good, but the heat is making me lack an appetite. I pass whatever I don’t finish to other hungry hikers. 

After lunch I’m sitting on the patio when Maria, the owner, who has been working all morning in the market, comes by. “It’s hot,” she says. We agree. And then she says: Do you want to sit in my pool? 

Um, hell yes.

We get over there and I’m about to climb in in my underwear when she says, so you have swimming trunks? And I say no. So she lets me borrow her bikini bottoms.

The inflatable pool isn’t that cold but it’s still such a shock to my system to not be hot that it takes me 30 minutes before I can get my core all the way in the water. Male Murphy (there is also a girl Murphy farther ahead), Helen and Backhoe and a hiker whose name I forgot sat in a pool floaty. The unnamed hiker had lost his wallet and asked the market if there was any work he could do in order to get enough food to make it to Tehachapi. As we were sitting there, a man who had been giving rides to hikers – I think he may have worked at the market too – gave the hiker $100. The hiker seemed super shocked. It was incredibly generous.

I eat some chips and cheese for “dinner” and not long after a motorhome pulls up to give as many hikers as possible rides back to the trail. I throw my things together haphazardly and am one of the last people to get on. I think there are more than 16 of us and our packs, leaving standing room only. We get dropped off at the trail and as I’m re packing my pack and putting on my shoes (I’d jumped in in my flip flops) Hobo, Cadi and Bruce walk by. “Come catch us,” Bruce says.

So I do. I walk fast until I catch up and they fill me in on Hiker Town and their plans for the night. It’s 6:30 when I start walking and I feel good, but I’m usually asleep by 8:30, and I don’t do well with being tired. Cadi and Hobo plan to do 17 miles with only one 40 minute break to a bridge that promises shade. I’d like to make it to that bridge and maybe even further to a little oasis at 24 miles, but I know I can’t do it in one go and I assume I’ll have to stop for sleep. 

After 6 miles, my feet are pounding and my hips are sore. Flat walking is remarkably hard on our bodies. I see Yoav and Dean taking a break and say goodbye to Cadi and Hobo and lay down and elevate my feet. Before long Rawhide and the others have caught me and they break, too. I tell Rawhide about my plans for sleep and her plans sound similar, which makes me happy.

We get moving again and I try different techniques to motivate myself. I pass Cadi and Hobo taking their break. I try two different podcasts. I try upbeat music. But all that does it make me tire out faster. I see the Swiss Boys, Mountain and Tallboy breaking so Rawhide, Twerk and I join them. When Cadi, Hobo and Bruce catch up Rawhide and I walk with them so we have a pace setter. We decide we’re going to hike until midnight and then set up our tents and set an alarm for 2:30 am to do the last miles to the bridge.

Instead we stop at about 11.5 miles for the day, at 11:30 pm. In the distance we can hear someone shooting rounds on a gun and we decide we don’t want to move any closer to that. We find a flat spot in the desert next to the road and I set up quickly, in minutes, not bothering with my air mattress or quilt, and instead sleep inside my tent with my rain fly as a light blanket. 

I wake just before my alarm at 2:28 and hurriedly get out of my tent to pee. Rawhide is up and we’re both refreshed enough to hike the last few miles to the bridge, where we know we’ll have shade to protect us from the sun. We tell ourselves we’ll sleep for a couple of hours and consider pushing to mile 24, where it’s supposed to be even nicer.

We’re 2 miles away when we drop for a break. I drink some Gatorade. It’s hard to figure out how to eat while night hiking because my body is so confused. We sit in the dark and look at the stars, which are pretty. But Rawhide and I are talking about just how miserable this is. Why didn’t I just get an RV? I wonder. Rawhide misses her boyfriend. We agree that it’s one of the hardest days mentally, in no small reason because we are just so tired. 

We get up again and the sun starts coming up behind the wind mills we’re approaching, and then finally I see the bridge. Rawhide lays on top of her tent and I set mine up. I don’t blow up my air mattress – I want to feel the cool dirt underneath me. I am getting used to sleeping on hard packed dirt. The sun is already coming up and I hope the shade lasts and I fall asleep. 

Wee Vill Market – Day 42: Sawmill Camp to Wee Vill Market (near Hiker Town)

I don’t sleep well. My mind is racing until late and once I fall asleep I wake frequently. I hear Cadi (I was still spelling her name wrong) and Hobo start moving in the dark and think they’re getting ready to go when I realize it’s only 2:30 am so I go back to sleep. About an hour later they’re getting ready for real. I’m beat. I’m going to stay in bed I tell myself. I’m going to stay in bed. I’m going to.. well, fuck, I’m awake now. 
“How close are you to being packed up?” I ask.

“I think we’re about 25 minutes out,” Cadi says. 

I quickly pack my things and like magic, we’re all ready at the same time again. It’s 430 am or so and dark. I’m glad my flashlight is charged and I lead the way. Cadi and Hobo are both surprised at its brightness, but I still remember it failing on me on one of the only night hikes I did on the alternate to Idyllwild, so I don’t talk it up too much. I wouldn’t hike this early by myself – I am too nervous about mountain lions, which other hikers have been seeing. I scan my light up the mountainside making sure they’re not watching us. 

In the dark, we pass 500 miles and take photos. We sing a little bit of The Proclaimers song. 

Once the sun comes up my sleepiness really starts to hit me and it slows me down intensely. I stop for several breaks and Cadi and Hobo keep moving. It doesn’t help that I’m carrying 4 liters of water, which makes my feet pound more frequently, because I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to have to get and filter more in 10 miles. At one point I’m so tired I lay down in the shade and take a micro nap, maybe 5 minutes. It’s not even 7 am. Still, if helps and I’m able to do some more hiking before stopping for another break where I try to take a nap. The flies are awake now and biting and I cover myself in my rain jacket and Tyvek to try to keep them away. I am covered in bug bites and wake in the middle of night itching and applying hydrocortisone. I can’t quite relax with all the bugs, and then Mountain and Tallboy walk up and laugh and take a picture of my hiker burrito situation and so I get up and push for one more mile, to Horse Camp, arriving around 930. Arriving there means I’ve done 10 miles by 10 am, and also that I am going to set up my tent to escape the bugs and take a real nap. 
When I get there I spot some shade and climb in. Mountain and Tallboy arrive shortly after and invite me to have lunch but I tell them I’m going to sleep. I hear Cadi and Hobo go past – they’re trying to push through the afternoon to get to Hiker Town.
I drift in and out of sleep for an hour before the sun steals my shade and I get up to move. In the few seconds I’m outside of my tent a black fly manages to bite my lower back. Assholes. I crawl back inside my tent in a new shade spot and consider sleeping some more but instead eat lunch. 
It’s supposed to be in the 90s today but the group sitting there is planning on forgoing a siesta and just trying to push to town. This sounds like a mistake, a miserable mistake, but I’m persuaded by their group think and also I don’t know if I can sit there in my tent for another six hours. 

Down to the hot hot desert. 

Around 11:15 I get my things together and hike out. It’s hot but it’s downhill and there’s a slight breeze and my body is cooled down from my long break, so for about two miles I’m doing okay. I see a southbound hiker, which means he is going all uphill, and I can’t catch myself before I say, “Oh man, I do not envy your uphill right now.”

“I didn’t need to hear that,” he says in a friendly way. “Let’s just say I do envy your downhill.”

Not long after I run into Doc and Amnesia and chat and hike with them for a bit. The trail turns into 200 foot uphill and downhills that make my body feel the heat more intensely, so I fall back from hiking with them after about 2 miles and sit in the shade. When I get up to hike again I spot them in the shade and sit again. 

I try to get myself to go a little further with promises of sitting down when I feel too hot. This works until about 3:30 pm when I see a glorious piece of shade, flat, and I lay down. I’m only 2 miles from Hiker Town but it’s clear to me I need an extended break. The flies are still brutal so I set up my tent in that shady spot, drink water, and take a very warm nap. 

Around 4:30 I rouse myself and keep walking. I have cell service and I call home. When I get to the street, I call the Wee Vill market, where Rawhide is staying, because when they’re not too busy they’ll give hikers rides. The owner, Maria, picks me up. She’s very friendly and impressed with what we’re doing and I am glad I’m going to her store instead of Hiker Town, which has some pretty ugly trail rumors floating around, and has also decided to charge $10 to hikers for going there at all. 

When we get to the market I realize just how out of it I’m feeling from the heat and go inside and get a cold Sprite and lay down on my pack in the shade while drinking it. 

Once my head is back on straight I get another soda and order food and sit with Rawhide and Twerk and eat. They give me the run down of where everything is. I go to the bathroom and see that my face is covered in dirt so rinse it off and wash my hands. 

After food, which I don’t eat much of, partly because it’s spicy and I haven’t loved spicy food out here, and partly because I’ve had about 60 oz of Sprite, I go take a shower. The shower is in a “closed” bathroom that the owner lets hikers use. It’s definitely not fancy but it’s water, hot even, and someone’s left bodywash/shampoo/conditioner in the stall which is about all anyone can ask for. 

Happy Feet, who caught the hitch with me to town, comes in to see if the shower is available and there’s another stall so we shower next to each other. I wouldn’t shower next to every dude out here but he doesn’t creep me out in the least. I rinse my hiking clothes out in the water and dry myself off with my new Class of 2017 bandana and head out. I ring my clothes out and hang them on the fence. It feels so, so good to be clean. I find Twerk and Rawhide and it’s sunset so Twerk is taking portraits and he catches a few fun ones of us together. 

I stay up and chat until 930 or so knowing that I can sleep in tomorrow. We’re going to hang out here all afternoon and then night hike the notorious LA Aqueduct to avoid the heat – it’s 20ish miles, completely flat, no shade. Most likely I’ll have to stop for a few hours sleep out there but I’m gonna do my best to nap through the day and drink caffeine before I head out.

The traffic noise is loud here, but I am so happy to be here, and I sleep like a baby. 

Fishing for Water – Day 41: Dirt Road to Sawmill Camp

Pct miles: 481.3 to 498.2
Miles: 16.9

I don’t get to bed until late the night before because I’m up and reading online. At 4 am I hear Caddy and Hobo up, trying to be quiet, but I want to get as much of the hike done early as I can too. I pack my things and like magic we’re all ready at almost exactly the same time. It’s still dark out and we hike by flashlight. We hike and talk about our families and our lives for four miles, and then I take a break for breakfast and to dig a cathole and then I don’t see them again during the day.

The weather is surprisingly pleasant, the wind keeping the heat at bay. The flies are annoying but not the worst they’ve been. I manage to do 10 by 10am thanks to the early start. My mind is preoccupied by thinking about my family and I don’t notice much about the trail. I’m tired by a poor night’s sleep and take several breaks. At 5 miles from where Caddy and Hobo will be camping I see Mountain, Tallboy and The Swiss Boys all curled up taking a nap. I find a spot of shade nearby and set up my tent and crawl inside and fall asleep. 

When I wake up it’s around 1 and I eat some food and by 2 I’m hiking again. I was worried it would be hot but instead it’s shaded and windy and overall pleasant. Two miles from camp I meet another hiker. Z Man, and he tells me about his backpacking trips to Arizona as we climb the side trail to the campground. 

I find Caddy and Hobo and set up and then we make a trek up a hill to a cistern, where we fish for water. There’s a bucket and a string and a stick and it feels a bit like a carnival game. 

We walk back down and eat dinner with Twerk and Z Man and then it’s early to bed – we’re trying for a 330 wake up to avoid the heat while trekking to Hiker Town. 

3 Mile Hike – Day 40: Casa de Luna to Dirt Road

I sleep well in the forest at Casa de Luna. I get out of my tent mostly to pee and walk to the portapotties, which are precariously full. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with a portapotty with a bunch of hikers. 

I get myself some coffee and pancake, which are delicious, but coffee is a mistake and my body shakes for the rest of the morning. I call my family to check in. I paint myself a rock with a Cheryl Strayed quote on it and put it where I camped and then pack all my things. Rawhide is packed too, and Twerk, and we decide to eat at the cafe again before leaving. I rinse my clothes real quick and hang them up to dry and leave my pack behind. 

The cafe is delicious again, but now I am really full. I hurry back to get my pack and clothes, which are still wet, and when I get back to the road Caddy and Hobo are catching a hitch and I join them. We end up hiking together for the next three miles. I’m slow because I have to unclip my hip belt my tummy is so full. 
Caddy and Hobo are ready to camp at 3 miles and Twerk and Rawhide, who are sitting near the campsite, are hiking on. I plan to join them but then notice I have cell service and decide to call my family instead. That takes long enough that I just set my tent up with Caddy and Hobo, careful to shake the red ants off of everything in my pack. 
I tell Caddy and Hobo about my mom and I end up crying and then Hobo cries with me. They’re early risers so we all want to get to bed early. The mosquitos hover outside my tent and I’m glad we’re not cowboy camping tonight. 

Hippie Daycare РDay 39: Hilltop to Casa de Luna 

Cowboy camping went well, although I didn’t find packing up in the morning to be much faster than usual. I got an early start while Mountain and Tallboy continued to sleep. It was already warm and muggy at 6am and only continued to get warmer. Flies were everywhere, flying into my face and buzzing in my ears. If I ever really hated someone and had magical powers, I would come back as a biting fly and buzz around them incessantly. 

Mountain mentioned yesterday that I was limping and today I noticed that my left foot is hurting a little bit, like there are some tense muscles particularly in the heel. I want to pull over and massage them but when I try I’m swarmed by flies, so I pick up my pack and keep moving. I try to stop two more times in the shade but the flies don’t give me any relief. 

When I reach the road I hear there is a shuttle moving hikers to Casa de Luna so I sit near the fire station to catch it – I don’t want to walk the 2 extra miles to the house. Within minutes a volunteer is back with a mini van. Her car smells amazing. We pile in and she tells us where the cafe and convenience store is before pulling up to Casa de Luna, also known as Hippie Daycare, also known as the Andersons. The Andersons have been hosting hikers for 18 years. A group of them are sitting out front on beds, couches and chairs. A band is playing guitars and bongo drums. It smells distinctly of weed. The volunteer tells us where to go and I walk past bucket laundry, hammocks, an outdoor shower and into a “forest” of manzanita trees in the back that is decorated with painted rocks from previous hikers. 

I find a place to camp and set up my tent and then go hang out with the hikers up front. Nirvana is there, as are Roadshow, Sprite, Soulshine and several others. I change into a Hawaiian dress – everyone has to wear a Hawaiian shirt when they arrive. There’s a nail painting party going on but I don’t join. Instead I realize I’m tired and go find a hammock and fall asleep. 

When I wake up I’m hungry and get a group of hikers together to go to the cafe. Patrick and Manuel (of The Swiss Boys) come along and when I forget to order fries with my BLT they let me have some of theirs. I drink a massive pina colada milkshake and waddle back to the house and just hang out. 

At 7 or so, the famous Taco Salad is ready to be served. Terrie makes all of us wash our hands and has strict rules about not holding our plates over the serving dishes and several hikers get smacked with a wooden stick to remind them. It’s simple but delicious and I go back for seconds. After dinner Terrie makes us dance for our class bandanas which is fun and kind of hilarious. 

At 8 or so, Rawhide walks in! She hiked 24 miles to get there. I walk her back to where I’m camped and shine a light as she sets up and then show her to taco salad. 

We stay up and chat with a member of the band who is really interested in hiking named Gemini. Around 930 I’m sleepy and head to bed. Despite the noise up front, the forest is quiet and I fall asleep.

First Cowboy Camping – Day 38: Hiker Heaven to Hilltop

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. 

Day 37: Zero at Hiker Heaven

I wake up and sit with Mermaid and a hiker named Outlaw and we talk about the trail and it’s a really refreshing, honest and polite conversation. I jump in the truck and go to breakfast with a large group and we chat nicely. Twerk is live Instagramming our experience for the Trek. He takes a photo of me with my French toast. 

I catch a ride back to Hiker Heaven and pack up my things and talk with Rawhide. We think we’ll head out around 4. I get my laundry done, including my down jacket, which I don’t even know how to wash. There are several puppies running around and I spend a lot of time petting them and cuddling them.

The other day at breakfast the group said they wanted to name me Bing, because I pop up everywhere, like “bing!” I thought it was a cute concept and accepted the name but later I realized it was a good name, but not for me. So I had to tell everyone at Hiker Heaven that I’d rescinded my acceptance. Nirvana said he really wanted me to have a name, which was sweet, and proceeded to try some out – Mrs. Information? He suggested. What about Informash-ma’am? That one made me laugh a lot. Still not my name, but hilarious. 

It’s not long before I’m hungry again and head back to town. The food here is really good for such a small place. Who do I see sitting at the restaurant but Bruce! We high five and after he finishes lunch with his group he comes and catches up with me.
I head back to Hiker Heaven. It’s hot now and I go inside the trailer and take a nap with Rawhide. When we get up it’s already 330 and Rawhide realizes her phone has shut itself off, which it’s been doing. It doesn’t take long before we’ve decided not to leave today after all, which I am thrilled for – my body isn’t injured but it is tired and it wants a break. We make a plan to leave early the next day, which means we’d have to do 25 miles to get to Casa de Luna. But that’s a problem for tomorrow’s Colleen.
I call my brothers and Mark and it’s hard to know what to talk about but I also want to talk to them, these people who really know me, these people who have decided to like me anyway. 
I get off the phone with Mark and hop on yet another trip to town and get pizza and the pizza guy gives me and four other hikers a ride back to Hiker Heaven. As I eat dinner I chat with a hiker, Rachelle, who is hiking with her husband. She’s earnest about her motivations for hiking which is nice. Then I hear hikers having a sing along so I join briefly before the guitarist runs out of songs we known and I go inside the trailer for bed so I don’t have to unpack my pack and set up my tent. 

Gone to Hiker Heaven – Day 36: Acton KOA to Hiker Heaven

 PCT miles: 444 to 454Miles: 10

A train goes behind the KOA and went through several times last night which wasn’t super pleasant. Around 5:15 I woke up and just laid in my tent. Lynn wanted to go to breakfast and managed to find us a free ride with a guy who was headed to work. I don’t know if people drive crazy out here or if I’m just not used to moving faster than 2-3 miles per hour anymore, but cars feel pretty insane to me right now. 

We got to breakfast and who’s there but Karma, Nirvana, Rawhide, Twerk and a bunch of other hikers I hadn’t seen in a while. They were all staying at Hiker Heaven. 

Nirvana, Karma, Soulshine
We ate breakfast and I resupplied (it may have been smarter to resupply later so I didn’t have to carry the food 10 miles for nothing, but I didn’t want to have to think about it later.) We got a ride almost instantly to the KOA from a Hiker Heaven volunteer in his doorless Jeep. 

After that I took a brief nap with my rainfly draped over the top half my tent (for ventilation) and then Scissors arrived. She sat in the shade with us and shared that she was really considering leaving the trail. She wasn’t having the experience she’d hoped for. 

The conversation made me think about what kind of experience I’m having. I wouldn’t describe it as “fun.” I’m not finding that I’m creating friendships that are especially meaningful to me. I’m not having the deep conversations I’d expected and heard about. In a lot of ways the trail has been disappointing – the things I’d read about aren’t what I’m experiencing. 

But still, this is what I’m doing and it feels like the right thing. Hard but simple. 

We dispersed and I started trying to pack my things. It was 1 pm, hot, in the sun. It took forever and I grew irritated and ended up shoving what I could in my pack and then taking everything to the laundry room – which is to say, shade – and exploding my pack and repacking it. Lynn sat watching Once Upon a Time so I watched over her shoulder while I packed. I grabbed a quick shower since my hair felt greasy from the shampoo I’d used the day before.

I finally got my things together, lost my bandana that I wear for sun protection, bought another one, nearly left my hiking pole, and promptly lost my new bandana. 

At 345 I headed out. I saw Mixed Bag – he caught up – and kept walking. I managed to keep a good pace the whole way and did 10 miles in 3 hours. 

I called Mark for the last hour and then my brother. The hikers in town let me know there was a shuttle running to Hiker Heaven every hour so I put in a quick order for takeout Mexican food before jumping in a truck.

Hiker Heaven is actually someone’s house – the Saufleys – and they have set up an amazing operation that is catered to the needs of hikers. I got a tour when I walked in – a laundry system where I could drop off my clothes and have them later returned with my name on them, an outdoor and indoor shower, an area to charge all of my electronics, plenty of chairs and places to hang out. It’s magical. I almost cried walking in.

I set up my tent and ate my food and chatted with people. A large group of hikers were drinking and the vibe got weird so I went to bed. 

I’m noticing a kind of unfortunate dynamic out here where people are sitting in groups and talking and sort of being openly or casually rude to people and trying to bond with other hikers by being rude to someone in the group. It’s pretty uncomfortable to be around. 

I think I’ve spent a lot of my life wanting to really connect with people and that was part of what I thought I’d get out here. Whether it’s the bubble or something else, I haven’t really gotten much of that. Maybe it’s coming. Maybe it’s not. 

Tomorrow the plan is to hike out in the evening because that’s when Rawhide is trying to leave. I’ve ordered the bulk of my gear to the Sierra but I still need to figure out food.