The night continues to be dead silent – emphasis on “dead” particularly when, in the dead of night, I hear walking outside my tent. Slow walking. Step. Step. Step. None of the others are camped particularly near me, so my brain automatically interprets this as something trying to kill me. You’d think that’d make me spring up out of bed, alert and concerned, but my brain won’t let me move my arms or legs. Welp, I guess I’ve had a good run – I’m back asleep before I can think much else.
I do wake up though, feeling much better than yesterday. Sterling in particular chuckles at my reaction to “danger” last night as the four of us eat breakfast; that was him up and wandering to find a spot to go. He’s out first this morning, and I’m right behind him.
I catch him on the next hill, where he’s downloading podcasts with the ample 4G service. I should probably just go by, keep my head down, roll on through, but I’m not really in the mood to hike today. I call Mom instead and chat for a while, letting Mozart and Pineapple pass me.
Eventually I tear myself away, but it’s hard, so hard this morning. Six and Meerkat pass me soon after, and it does nothing to increase my motivation. But I’m here to hike, so hike I shall.
After the stunning beauty of the Sierra, everything looks the same today – just trees, trees and more trees. Sure, the trail’s not particularly difficult today, and there’s the occasional nice-looking lake waaay the hell off trail, but otherwise, it’s just more trees.
I run into everyone I’ve seen today plus a few folks at A Tree Spring – I don’t particularly see A Tree that stands out to me, but this spring is both piped and beautiful, the dirt road that’s just uphill not withstanding. It’s nice to be able to chat with people about the day, about my body’s current temper tantrum, about hiking when you don’t really want to hike. I take heart from learning I’m not alone; Pineapple wants to do 25 today, but I think I can squeeze out a little more than that. Maybe. I’ll reevaluate later in the day.
Trees trees trees – podcasts break up the monotony, as do the terribly-infrequent water sources. Their infrequency does mean that hikers gather ’round them, so I get to have lunch in the company of others, too. I take the time to eat, rinse my socks downstream, get my shirt and my Buff beautifully sopping wet. It hurts to put them on, the water’s so much colder than the air, but only for a moment, and as I hike on I thank past-me for being smart enough to do that. Evaporative cooling FTW!
Pineapple’s agreed to 27 miles, so it’s onwards and back in a generally upwards direction as the day progresses. It’s still difficult to be under tree cover, but between the podcasts and the views when I’m not in the trees, it’s enough of a palliative to keep me moving.
The best views of the day come at a time when my innards decide to flagrantly rebel against all that is sacred and holy. I waddle urgently, and make it nearly the requisite distance off-trail before I throw my skirt down and let loose a poo so violent that I’m pretty sure some of my innards are now my outtards. I dutifully dig a hole next to my shame and edge the poo in with convenient rocks, and then bury everything. Every moment of the rest of my day will be better than this one, so at least something good came out of this1.
Down, down I go to Whiskey Creek2, which I almost don’t stop at but for the couple of folks that tell me the walk’s not that bad, and the fact that all of the sources are off-trail through here. It’s only three-tenths, but it feels a lot longer and a lot further down than I was led to believe. Still, I’m glad I heard about it from the other hikers – I’d have stopped at the pretty terrible first trickle instead of continuing on to the beautiful second flow down the trail. It feels faster going up than it did coming down.
Pineapple’s up there when I get back, and she’s having as hard a time with today as I am. She’s grouchy about the mileage I want to do, and with good reason, I guess. I like to walk ’til dark, or at least until the last camp that I feel I can physically get to; she, on the other hand, is trying to feel out the bigger mileage, listen to her body. I wish I could do that, but my body is selfish, preferring sitting and sleeping to this whole hiking thing. If I listened to it all the time, I’d probably be way behind.
We get to the spur to Alder Spring where Speedy Gonzales is camped with a bunch of gents I’ve never met, and while Pineapple decides to call it for the evening, I decide to push on. Meer and Six were supposedly going another 2.5 miles or so, and I bet I can catch them before dark. Pineapple hugs me for what she’s concerned will be the last time, but she’s faster than I am, and I’m confident she can catch me tomorrow.
The last uphill is hard for me, harder than I feel like it should be, given the mentally tough day I’ve had, but I make it, raise my poles in triumph. Awww yisss. Did the thing.
I almost stop in the first site I see, just to take a load off, but if Six and Meer are close, I bet I can make it to them. I almost stop at the second one I see, too, thinking it might be the last for a while, but I put my faith in the thruhiker gods and sure enough, there they are in the third one. Meer throws up a loud whoop as I approach, and Six a groan; apparently, Meer just won a cookies and cream chocolate bar for saying I’d get there, and that I’d get there by 8:50. It’s 8:30. I’m glad to be of assistance, and glad to camp with people tonight.
I eat while we chat, and for once my rice and beans doesn’t taste like ash in my mouth. We laugh and enjoy each other’s company until the dark-dark comes, and we let the silence of the evening usher us to sleep.
Start: 1209.3 • End: 1237.0 • Day: 27.7
Notable Accomplishments: Provided proof of life to both parents • Survived the heat • Successfully pushed 2.5 extra miles
 Came out. GET IT. (There’s gotta be some humor in this.)
 Which I desperately want to call Whisk(e)y Creek.