I find my headlamp under my butt in the voids of my sleeping pad in the middle of the night, sleepily chastise myself for misplacing it before rolling over and going back to sleep. The morning comes, and I’m up and out as per usual, paying especially close attention to the prickly pear cactus near the door of my tent.
When I crawl out, my front porch is indeed beautiful, if not enough to make up for the trouble I went through last night. Emily is shockingly already up – she likes to sleep in late, but she’s already brushing her teeth – but she’s not as fast on the outs as I am, and I’m off and away before she’s much out of her tent.
The clouds are pouring off the hills this morning – it’s beautiful, and just a bit haunting. And I get to walk through that.
It’s light enough to see, but ample protection from what is probably another hot morning. Sometimes, I can only see twenty or so feet in front of me, others just a wee bit farther. Normally, I’m looking at my surroundings, tracking where the trail goes and where I’ll be soon, but with that taken from me, I try to be in the moment. No distracting myself from where I am what I’m doing who I am, just being. It’s kind of nice to just be in a place instead of my body – it’s always grouching and groaning these days, and it’s nice to turn that off for a bit.
As I’m wandering through the clouds, I wander my way to mile 100! 1/26th-ish of the way, baby!
By this time, the sun is finally breaking the cloud cover – nuuuuuu – and I’m nearing Barrel Spring. I pull in just after another hiker, put my things down and stretch while he gets water; another does the same while I fetch the water. The latter and I trade names, pleasantries; he makes a comment about his wife having the same hiking skirt as I do, and then:
“Where’s your boyfriend? Is he ahead of you or behind you?”
I’m more stunned than anything else, but I blurt out “At home, earning his keep.” Better to have said barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, but nothing to be done about it now. I go on about how he’s hiked it twice, and the conversation continues on, but I get out of there sooner than I necessarily want to.
That question bothers me for the next four miles – such a supposition, from a person I’ve just met! I wasn’t confused-looking or incompetent at the time, but I *had* to have had a boyfriend somewhere. Even though there are so, so many solo women on the trail! It’s just frustrating – I know he meant well, but it was pretty presumptive of him.
But then, the meadow and the cow that’s like five feet from the trail and Eagle Rock drive all that from my mind.
It’s getting later, though, and the heat and the up is starting to get to me. I’m thankful when the meadow ends and the trail begins meandering creekside – more shade for my own personal struggle street. It’s a mileage countdown to Warner Springs – and then, the sidetrail to the post office, and after a quick orientation via the maps, a jaunt across the highway over to the Warner Springs Resource Center.
So many tents! So many hikers! And immediately, a cool soda and a trip to the post office for my box! The rest of the day is bucket shower and bucket laundry and sorting through resupply and setting up my shelter and omg there’s wifi and spaghetti for dinner with the pie I didn’t get in Julian for dessert and… peace, the simple peace of being. It makes the time go by too quickly.
I stay up too late because of the artificial lighting in the building, at least until they kick us out at hiker midnight. With the help of the wifi and the earbuds I’ve lugged this far and am finally putting to good use, I let episode three of Game of Thrones lull me to sleep.
Start: 94.9 • End: 109.5 • Day: 14.6
Notable Accomplishments: All my mileage by 1:30 • Ridiculous eagle pictures • Game of Thrones holy shit