Sure enough, I wake around what a groggy look at my clock says is 2am, and it’s raining, though I’m still warm and dry. It’s raining when I wake again at 1am, and at actual 2am, and again when my alarm buzzes in my sleeping bag at 5:15am1. I listen to the rain for 15 minutes before I decide that its steady, soothing pace means it isn’t going to let up anytime soon. I look around, take stock of everything, but it seems something’s missing – oh. oh no. I did not do my idiot check last night as well as I had hoped. I peek under the vestibule, and yep, sure enough, there are my shoes and socks, sitting out in the rain, like they have been all night. Ehhhhhhhhh.
So, sighing, I pack up inside and bundle up against the cold and stuff my feet into wet shoes before dashing outside to take down my tent. It’s a Sisyphean effort to get it completely packed without getting any water inside, so I put it away on the outside of my trash compactor bag, to keep the dry stuff and the wet stuff separate. Then it’s oh-god-get-out-of-camp-or-I-might-freeze, ten miles to the Desert View Picnic Area and Mount Laguna.
It’s wet but pretty, clouds moving every which way, dancing across the trail. It’s on and off as I move, enough to peek my head out, take some pictures.
I’m mostly head down, though, just trying to keep moving up up up, although I do stop to pick up a weird half-gallon jug that someone apparently left behind. It has a fire symbol spray-painted on it, although when I smell the inside, it doesn’t smell like fuel. I carry it by hand for about a mile before I’m
smart soggy enough to put it on the outside of my pack.
I’m nearing mile seven when my bowels will no longer be contented to wait. So while I’m in a pine forest, and the digging is easy, pooping in the rain is not exactly what I’d hoped for today.
Although, as the weather shifts, neither is pooping in the sleet.
WE ARE IN A DESERT. HOW IS IT NOT ONLY RAINING, BUT SLEETING.
Moving along, I sing “Jingle Bells” loudly – might as well laugh about it.
So clearly, it’s gotten colder, so it’s move move move go go go now now now – and even though I’m “rushing”, a gentleman without rain gear passes me – all the way to 41.5, and the first turnoff to Mount Laguna via the Burnt Rancheria Campground. I meet up with Emily, and we stare at the sign for a moment in the wet.
And then, because I’m not suuuper cold and cannot abide a day under 10 miles, I continue up to 42.6, Emily following. By the time we arrive, I am actually super cold, and since the rain/sleet is supposed to continue into the evening and my stuff’s all wet, have decided to stay inside, somehow, some way.
We loiter on the porch of the store, put our packs down, and immediately decide to split a room at the lodge, if they’ve got one – and, turns out, they do, so we pay and say no takebacksies before someone else can take it. It won’t be ready for a while, though, so we stash our packs inside and head first to the Laguna Outfitter, for more honey stingers and snacks, and then to the Pine House Cafe, for a delicious Garlic Parmesan Burger, fries, and peppermint tea.
While there – with about 30 other hikers – Emily and I learn the Cafe’s decided to let people stay for trade, given the disgusting nature of the weather – wash dishes for a place to sleep on the floor inside. We’re kind of sad we just sprung for a room, but it’ll be nice to have some privacy.
Meanwhile, I’ve gotten it in my head that since I have a nice warm place to sleep, that maybe I should try to put a couple more miles in today. The trail touches the road again at 47.5 – 4.9 miles of hiking, which would make for a respectable 15.5-mile day. Only trouble is that I’d have to
walk or hitch those miles back, and I’m not sure how many people are going through at that time of day. I ask at the store, and Tom offers to drive me back, since I’ll be done after the store closes. I’m floored – he doesn’t have to do that, but I’m so, so glad he’s offered. Giddy, I set my tent out to dry, lounge around for like an hour, then load everything else back into my pack for those five miles.
And I’m so, so glad I do – those miles are beautiful, in and out of clouds, and as those clouds break on the heat of the desert valleys below, I can see down into them and the sunshine. It’s also a pretty easy walk, which means it’s a great evening’s hiking.
I pass Jerry and Ilva, who I’ve been camping with the last few days, and come out at the road with a few other hikers.
We’re met at the road by a guy from The Yellow Deli, handing out free green bars and literature, telling us to stop by. The others head to the nearby Laguna Campground, but I text Tom, who whisks me back into town. Then it’s laundry and omg a second day in a row of showering and writing and charging and lazing until sleep whisks me away.
Start: 32.0 • End: 47.5 • Day: 15.5
Notable Accomplishments: Walked through sleet in a desert • Made more miles after drying off • Actually got a blog post up
 I was not about to be unpleasantly awoken 15 minutes early again.