Turns out, that’s around 6:30 – which is fine by me, because I have a lot to do today. Eat, write, eat, resupply, eat, and all before I walk a few miles.
I whip up an alfredo sauce with broccoli and red peppers while watching Game of Thrones on my phone – it takes for-freaking-ever, but it’s so worth it, mostly because I have a guilt-free excuse to
squeal about watch Game of Thrones while I’m cooking. The alfredo comes out wonderfully – it’s everything I was craving, and probably like 1500 calories a serving. Everything is now about calories after weighing myself yesterday – I’ve lost 8 pounds already.
I give Steffen a shakedown at his request, get mansplained to by another hiker as to why the ultralight lifestyle is wrong wrong wrong. I don’t claim to be ultralight, but the lighter your pack, the easier walking is, so I don’t know what his objection is to that.
Then it’s going through food and figuring out what I need for this next section, going into town and getting those things, repackaging on the porch while glaring at my phone to charge faster. I eat some melty gummy bears my mom sent1, try most of the other things she sent. Should be tasty. She’s sent a million ginger chews, half of which I put in my food bag, half of which I’m sorry not sorry about bouncing ahead to Tehachapi – after sharing, of course.
Talon helps me with the Click-and-Ship, then I ask if she needs a relief pitcher; she shows me how to do everything, and then it’s all me, helping with packages and playing with L-Rod’s grandson and the dogs who suddenly take a liking to me and chatting with L-Rod, when she’s not being asked about a million other things. She’s a woman of infinite patience, infinite kindness2.
I’m still trying to post to my blog as Sasha heads out; she’s going to order pizza, so I’ve got some time to catch up. When the 7pm shuttle tolls around, and I’m still not on it, I text her, tell her to leave without me, I’ll catch up. Maybe I’m staying the night, I don’t know. I help out gathering rocks from the yard when I make my decision – it makes sense just to go a few miles tonight, cut some of the waterless stretch out with some night hiking.
It’s like pulling teeth to get myself to leave, though in my defense, every shuttle they call, I’m not ready. I’m enjoying talking to Whiskey Woman and Real Deal about policy in Franklin County in Washington, and when I go to pack my things, talking to Talon about horses. Putting on shoes. Getting water. Making sure I have everything I came in with. There are so many things to do before hiking out.
At 8, though, it’s now or never, and Jeff rounds us up and we’re off. He chuckles good naturedly at my purist ways when I ask to be dropped off in town to do my continuous footsteps, drops Renee and I off at the pizza place. Then we’re on our own.
I guess I didn’t realize it was a fair bit more roadwalking, but at least it’s a nice roadwalk, with a lot of shoulder and few things to trip on along the way. Spesh calls and we chat about potential campsites in the area, among other hiker-y things. I feel kind of bad for having nothing else to talk about, but I hope he’s getting some warm fuzzies out of it instead of being heartsick because of it. Then it’s off the phone and onto the dirt road in the proper dark.
The first campsite Spesh talked about is beautiful, but I’m not done walking and talking with Renee about sci-fi and fantasy that I should be reading.
The trail flattens out and there’s a spot just to the side of the trail that’s clearly already impacted. I walk for a bit further to try to find something better, but there’s nothing close, so I bid Renee goodnight, wish him well on his walk sans headlamp.
There’s neither room nor flat space to set up my tent here, and while I could probably find both further back in the brush I’m still a bit of a scaredy cat. Still, I’m kind of proud – I’m cowboy camping by myself for the first time, nestling into a depression basically the size of my torso. I’ve been 3.4 miles tonight – a little over 20 gets me where I want to be tomorrow. And now I’ll get to practice the dawn-dusk walking.
Settling in is so easy when cowboying, and while I’ve stuffed my food bag into my pack to protect it and I think I’m crushing my oreos under my already too-warm feet, I’m content. It’s beautiful tonight – there are high wispy clouds, or is that the milky way? And there are a couple of stars so bright I think they’re planets. It’s so strange to be lying here with no human distraction – it’s unsettling, but not in a bad way. Of course, as soon as I think that, two planes come loudly out of what I assume is LAX.
They pass and I’m left with shooting stars – or is it falling trash? – and half-formed thoughts about making something out of nothing as I slip off to sleep.
Start: 454.5 • End: 457.5 • Day: 3.0
Notable Accomplishments: Helped out at Hiker Heaven • Made a baller alfredo sauce • Made some miles and it feels so good!
 THANK YOU MOMMMMM because I totally forgot to say it in the last one.
 Weeell mostly. There were a ton of hikers going out to the trail or to town on the 5pm shuttle. She asked for only the folks to town first, then she’d come back for the folks for the trail. She asked if there were people doing the 24 by 24 challenge – where you drink 24 beers and attempt to walk 24 miles in 24 hours, a ridiculous-to-me proposition in 100F+ weather – and one person said yes. “You,” the lady L-Rod says, “you can walk.” I lost my shit.