A zero, my birthday, and a typical trail day

A Zero in Wrightwood

I’m sitting in a laundromat again, which is apparently where I like to compose blog posts. We just made it to Wrightwood this afternoon after a 5 day hike from Big Bear Lake, with a brief stop at a McDonald’s in Cajon Pass (where I got a hot fudge sunday and an apple pie for $2.78!).  We’re taking a zero tomorrow and I’m treating myself to a massage to help some old shoulder pain that has been creeping up. But I don’t have any blisters right now so I’m a lot better off than many of my fellow hikers.

So much has happened since I started hiking and so I’m going to cram a couple of topics into this one blog post, including my birthday that I celebrated last week and what a typical day on the trail looks like for me.

My Trail Birthday

I want to write about how special my birthday was last week. It started by waking up in a field camping with friends. Abby (A-Game) supplied me with a birthday hat and a cocktail umbrella which I donned as I hiked an amazing 8 or 9 mile climb through a wind farm. I was listening to a playlist created for me by a friend which kept me smiling, laughing, and hiking faster.

Birthday Trail Magic

At the end of the climb, there were pancakes (!!!) provided to us by the trail angel, Legend. More than a dozen of my tail friends all gathered here and we ate and basked in the sun and I got two rounds of Happy Birthday sung to me as A-Game playing the kazoo in the background. Also, A-Game’s friend, Scrub, (semi-famous from Yogi’s book) met us here to join us for 4-5 days of hiking, and also brought me a Birthday Girl pin for my backpack.

After pancakes we hiked about one more mile where there was an amazing river- the largest one we have seen since starting the hike. We all marveled at how being near running water is almost an instant spirit lifter, and I took my first swim of the trail.

A few miles later we stopped in a shady area farther upstream the river where 5 or 6 good trail friends relaxed and ate snacks.

Birthday Trifecta

Not only was May 10th my birthday, this year it also happened to be Buddha’s Birthday and a full moon.

Scrub, A-Game, Dr. Mark, and I eventually made it to our chosen campsite for the night and ate dinner and trail brownies that A-Game made. Highway and Hilary had set up camp there earlier and Phil and Austin showed up in the dark. The full moon rose and we howled at it while reflecting on what a perfect day it had been. It will be a Birthday to remember.





A Typical Trail Day

My alarm goes off at 5:30. I hit snooze. It’s starting to get light outside and I can hear people camping near me packing up and I know others have already been hiking for at least an hour. But it’s just so cold. How did they get out of their bed? I’m comforted knowing that A-Game is also probably still in her bed.

I take the clothes I’m going to wear that day (my one and only outfit) and stuff them into my sleeping bag to warm up before I put them on. I put my watch on. I assess the pain in my feet and back and shoulders. I drink my oatmeal protein smoothie while still in my sleeping bag. I check Guthook to see how far we have to hike until the next water source. Can I pour any water out to lighten my load?

Then I do everything I possibly can to get ready while staying in my sleeping bag. The saddest moment comes when I open the valve to my sleeping pad, and, with the hiss of air escaping, I find myself sitting on hard ground.

By 6:45 I’m ready to go, and usually one of the last ones to leave. I walk silently or listen to a podcast the few miles it takes to get to the next water source, where I find my friends filling water, eating snacks, and chatting. We hang out and I marvel at what a good morning it’s been so far. I fill water and use a plastic bag to take water away from the stream to wash socks and underwear to hang on the back of my pack to dry over the course of the day. I try to change my socks to a clean pair one to two times per day to prevent blisters and keep my feet happy.

I continue walking.

I stop for first lunch at 10:30 or 11. I eat my sweet lunch at this time. My current concoction is a tortilla with peanut butter and a chocolate nature valley bar crumbled on top. I take my shoes off and dry out my tent if I need to.

I continue walking.

I stop for second lunch around 2:30. Now I eat my savory lunch of a tortilla with sweet and spicy tuna and cheddar cheese. I take my shoes off and elevate my feet.

I continue walking.

Perhaps at some point I’ll take a break on the side of the trail and one of my friends will unexpectedly round the corner. These are some of the best moments of the day. “Wow!” we’ll exclaim. “Did you see those clouds? That snowy peak? Did you feel the wind? Did you hear the wind move through the tall grass and think it sounded and looked like the ocean? Did you see a rabbit? A horny road? A snake?” It’s as if we’re all experiencing the same emotions and feelings even when we’re alone. It’s an incredibly nice and comforting feeling.

We continue walking. Maybe this time together. The last few miles of the day can sometimes be tough and it can be easier to do them together.

We get to camp and the first thing I do is set my tent up. The first thing A-Game does is change her clothes. We eventually grab our food bags and sit near each other on the ground and each make either three packets of easy mac, or fettuccine alfredo with added olive oil and cheese, or two packets of ramen.

We climb into bed while it’s still light out. Maybe it’s 8 pm, maybe it’s 9 pm. I arrange my space so my feet are elevated by my food bag and my head is elevated by my backpack. It’s nice to be back on my inflated sleeping pad. I set my alarm for 5:30 and hope I don’t have to pee in the middle of the night. I’m not sure what the next day will bring, which is the best thing to look forward to.

The 17 mile hike coming into Wrightwood was spent almost entirely floating on clouds. I couldn't stop taking pictures.

The 17 mile hike into Wrightwood was spent almost entirely above the clouds. It was incredible.

It's hard to capture the happiness and excitement we feel when one of our friends, in this case Rosie, rounds the bend after several hours of being apart. We three hiked the last three miles smiling together.

A moment of pure joy as Rosey unexpectedly rounds the corner after 10 miles of not being seen. We laughed and joked as we completed the final two miles of the day together.

A moment of bliss elevating my feet outside the McDonald's.

Enjoying the simple pleasure of elevating my feet outside the McDonald’s.

Important trail directions. Note: This McDonald's was the only place to get water for the next 27 miles. It was packed with hikers.

Important trail directions.

I follow a very well-defined path every day.

The path I walk along all day is well-worn and sometimes you can see it for miles ahead. I’m undecided on whether I like being able to see it miles ahead or not.

Friends snacking across the river.

Friends eating snacks across the river.

The rainbow bridge after an evening at the hot springs at Deep Creek.

The rainbow bridge after an evening spent at the hot springs at Deep Creek.

I stumbled upon A-Game enjoying an afternoon snack under her parasol, Hank.

I stumbled upon A-Game enjoying an afternoon snack under her parasol.

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