The Magic of the Trail

Well, the wedding was awesome.  It was weird being in a dress and wiping some mascara on my eyes, but seeing Molly, Kate, Sharone, and Z was great. And Z’s mom cooked amazing food that I ate way to much of because I am hungry all the time. It was pretty easy to switch back to the “real world”. And it was just as easy to switch back to the trail life. Which I think I prefer. Minus the camp food.

Day 25: Little Jimmy Campground, Mile 383.8

My flight got into LAX at 8am, I public transported myself back to Eryka’s (my cousin) place and was back on the trail at 1:30.  Walked fourteen miles while running on mayyyybe two hours of sleep. I definitely curled up in a ball under the airport chairs from 4:30am till boarding but didn’t count that many sheep.

Eryka, Neil, and Mimzy joined me for the first little bit of the hike, which was awesome.  It is hard to just jump into a thru-hike, but it is nice to show my family what I am attempting to do for the next four months. Mimzy is…not hiking dog to say the least, so they had to turn to around before she became too dehydrated. I marched on, by myself, without my original trail family not knowing who I would meet or potentially camp with. Welp, I passed a grand total of TWO thru-hikers. And many, many, memorial day hikers.  You know when it’s a holiday weekend when you see people hiking in vans and jeans.

I was going to camp at the top of Baden-Powell but that was only eight miles in. It was a tough climb, and Eryka had taken me to Target where I went ham on food. Can somebody let me borrow their self-control please? Because clearly I have none. It is so hard not to think with your stomach when you hit a grocery store. So my pack was heavy. I will get better at this whole portioning thing.

I continued onto Little Jimmy Campground for a grand total of fourteen miles. I rolled in at dark, cowboy camped, and managed to rip my merino leggings.  Time to sew.

Day 26: Sulfer Spring Horse Camp, Mile 406.7

Jacked up the miles today. Woke up not nearly early enough and hiked until 7pm. I met Little Buddha who lives in Berkeley! Ended up camping with a group from Colorado and Wisconsin though. I really had no idea who I would meet or if I would even find a group to hike with, which is a totally silly thought.  The trail is amazing. It gives us people to hike with, trail angels who give us soda and beer, a very simple but difficult goal. Yes, I miss my old tramily A LOT, but the people behind them are just as cool.  Within our first conversation, Flicker (one of the CO women), talked about relationships, that thing that happens every 28 days, how we want to bring our better trail self back to the real world…some deep conversations.  There is so much time to talk about everything so you do and you get to know people so well so fast on such a meaningful level.

We did have to road walk because they are trying to bring an endangered frog back, but the road wasn’t horrible. I actually missed a turn and had to orient myself back to the trail using north/south direction. Did it! Success! Sorry mom, still haven’t used the GPS.  Saw the most motorcycles I have ever seen in my life while on the road. And a bighorn sheep! That was really cool. It just bounced around these rocks and then bounced away.

We missed some trail magic at Camp Glenwood cause all the boyscouts had already gone home. Ah well.  Walked onto the sulpher spring and I once again cowboy camped. Why did I bring a tent?

Day 27: Messenger Flats Campground, Mile 430.4

Twenty-four miles today.  Whoop whoop.  Upping the mileage and feeling it for sure. We ended up having a campfire last night, first one on the trail. Kept some of the bugs away. Today was just a lot of walking and a bit a trail magic. We rolled into a ranger station and some other hikers had a friend visiting with beer, powerade, and fruit and veggies. Fresh fruit and veggies are such a luxury. They are so so so so cooling and fresh (more than dried stuff anyways). I have been eating a salad in almost every town. In addition to loads of other things.

Everyone but Flicker from the CO/Wisco group decided to hitch into Agua Dulce because of injuries and stuff. So Flicker, Pilar (from Lafyette! Yeeee Bay Area), Roadrunner and I all heaved and hoed to Messenger Flats.  We were in a Poodle Dog Bush Area, which is a plant that gives us humans and gnarly rash. There was an alternate but it was all road walking. No bueno. Turns out there wasn’t too much poodle dog, and I haven’t gotten a rash yet so… the right call in my opinion. There was a frickton of super heavy brush though, so much that you couldn’t see the trail.  So I was constantly checking for ticks.

The water report had said there was a seasonal stream that was flowing about seven miles out from the station. Well, there wasn’t. Kinda freaked me out a little cause I had only brought one and a half liters and was planning on dry camping. Naturally, my brain went into how I was going to survive the next eleven miles on 1.5 liters of water: all the spit I am going to create and swallow, will I have to drink my pee, dry dinner and breakfast. Turns out there was another stream flowing one mile down the trail. Stressin for nothing.

We got to Messenger and got to see a beautiful sunrise and had to the whole campsite to ourselves.  Guess what I did? Cowboy camped.

Day 28/29: Hiker Heaven, Mile 454.5

Twenty-five plus miles today. Probably walked a marathon. But we wanted to get to Hiker Heaven and we did. We HAULED. Got the twenty-five in before four.  Heyo. And yes, I am feeling it. So I am going to zero here in this wonderful, amazing place.

We were supposed to get up at 4am, but didn’t get vertical until 5. We descended over the desert, which was covered in mist and saw the sunrise. It was so pretty. Even though it is hot and dry, the desert really can be beautiful. Between all the tarantulas and rattlesnakes that I still have not seen. We crushed out nine miles in under three hours and got to the Acton KOA to see Coppertone there! We got some of his delicious rootbeer floats and cinnamon rolls. He always has cinnamon rolls, I love it. There is just so much to love about this trail. This narrow, 2,650 mile long sandy thing. The community it has created and the adventure it provides is unbeatable. You can hurt, a lot, but your brain tells your body to press on, and somehow you can. You can overrule the pain and get to the next amazing thing. Our conscience is so powerful out here and I don’t think we would get very far without it.

I did a lot of what I am going to call “roller coaster walking”. Where I kinda lose control of my feet and they just go, a but out of control. It happens a lot on the downhill and I have to reel myself in so I don’t hurt my knees. It didn’t help that the trail was also like a roller coaster: lots of really, steep, short downhill sections immediately followed by steep uphills. It was kinda fun to walk but I had to keep reminding myself to stay in control.

After the magic we did the last ten miles to Agua Dulce. My left tendon on the front of my ankle decided to cause me a lot of pain, but like I said, your brain says ignore the pain and keep moving so your body does. This was a sweet section and I was still able to appreciate it through the pain I was ignoring. We crossed under highway 14, and I mean WAY under highway 14. You could see the end of the tunnel but not a hand in front of your face it got so dark. Super trippy.  And when we emerged, we were surrounded by these crazy rock formations. Unlike anything we had passed.

We got to town and this pick-up truck was dropping off a bunch of hikers in town. It was the Hiker Heaven truck! And I saw some of the people I had hiked with! Not my tramily, but others. I thought everyone would be so far ahead. Goodbyes are the worst and reunions are the best. So awesome to see Moonburn, Curiosity, and Jill. They were headed back to the trail, but I got to Hiker Heaven and gotta see more people! Blis and Black Swan were there, and so many other people. I read their registery and Pony Express and fam had left the DAY BEFORE! Registeries are so fun cause you get to see how far ahead your friends are and who you might catch up too. I want to catch them so bad, but the people I have been hiking with are great but they are so close but my ankle hurts… I am torn. I can’t believe they are only a day ahead. But I guess when you walk 85 miles in four days, you catch up.

But ok, Hiker Heaven. Oh my god. What is this place? Donna and her husband have been hosting us dirtbags for twenty years and have this system DOWN. Laundry, internet tent (where I have been for way too long writing this blog), sewing tent, and we get their entire back yard to sleep in. They drive us into town every hour and have awesome hiker boxes. I can’t believe this place is real. You hear about this place before you even start the trail and then you actually get here and it is more than you could ever imagine. There is an entire kitchen for us to use and all of us just sprawl on their back porch. They are so hospitable and giving. I slept like a baby and am going to zero here to rest my ankle. Casa de Luna is next and then Tehachapi! Getting close to the Sierras…it’s gonna be interesting.

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