Day 17

Day 17
May 5
mile 210.8-233.1
22.3 miles

I was one of the first people to get up at 5:15. We had another exposed climb today so it was important to get moving early. I had frosted cereal squares, a banana, and coffee for breakfast. Affter Marijke woke up, (she and Werewolf had come in late the night before) she called me over. “We were going to tease you in Idyllwild,” she said.
“Why?” I asked. She said that the guy in the outdoor store was so obviously hitting on me, but I kept deflecting it. At first I thought she meant the guy hanging out who wanted a date, but she was talking about the one who worked there! Marijke said he was trying so hard, but I just kept shooting it down. I was completely clueless! I told her that never happens to me so my natural reaction is to dismiss it. She also told me that B-Rad is now wearing my ragged western hat that I left in the hiker box. He couldn’t understand why anyone would want to give such a good hat away! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! I was glad it was being put to good use.
I started to pack up and took a couple of photos with Caroline and ‘The Bear.’
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Then, it was time to head for the hills! Lots of people had left in a short time frame and I yearned for my own space- if not for any other reason, so I could at least pee somewhere in this very open landscape!
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Half-Slow returned, looking for his pole tip, and Anastasia and Archie caught up to me. Finally, I was able to find a space to myself in some bushes and threw my hiking poles down. Unfortunately, they landed in the tiny needles of a plant and were now covered in them! I was amused because I had heard about this happening to other hikers in previous years and I still did the same thing! I guess we all have to experience these things for ourselves!
Caroline and I ended up climbing the last part of the hill together. As we were nearing the top (which had come much sooner than I expected), Half Slow started shouting up to her. “Caroline!…Wait up!… I promise I’ll make it worth your while!” We were both annoyed and I told her I didn’t want to wait. I started the descent and eventually Half Slow passed by. Caroline caught up to me when I was having a snack break. She was not happy at all! She told me that he had asked her what kind of sleeping pad she had and that she exploded back at him saying that she had just climbed a big hill, was having PMS, and that she was not at all in the mood to talk gear! He then pulled out her inflatable sleeping pad that had fallen off of her pack, which he had picked up. We both wondered why he couldn’t have just told her he had something of hers to begin with. This wasn’t the first interaction of the sort that we had each had with him. She continued on ahead of me, blowing off some steam by flinging dried (cow )?) poop off the trail with her hiking poles. Another woman hiker was just slightly ahead of her. The wind was picking up and this time bringing cooler air with it, which felt wonderful! I felt like I could finally enjoy the views now that I wasn’t baking under the hot sun!
Archie and Anastasia caught up to me as I was taking a short break on top of a ridge and then later on, when I had lunch at a beautiful river. This was an incredible sight in the middle of the desert!
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I had a bit of trouble finding the trail after crossing a couple of the tributaries and ended up getting my feet wet. Knowing that this would be a common occurrence in the Sierras, I just thought of it as a preview. Again, the trail started to climb. Dark clouds rolled in and the wind picked up strongly. It was the strongest wind I had encountered on the trail and I wondered if it was a smart thing to be climbing to a higher elevation at that time. I had to dig my poles into the sand and bend my body towards the ground to avoid being blown over. I wondered how Anastasia and Archie were faring in it.
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As I descended, the weather calmed. I reached another creek where I needed to collect water and looked around for a good place to do so. I found Jamie, her husband, and their two Alaskan Huskeys resting under a tree and found my own spot to snack.
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The girls came along a bit later and talked about the possibility of doing their first 20 mile day today. They told me that I had given them good advice- that if they took several breaks, it became something possible to do! I felt proud and happy for them.
I moved on and as I became tired, I decided to listen to some music for the first time on the trail. It’s not advisable to have headphones on in the desert because you won’t be able to hear rattlesnakes, but I felt like it was now a safe time of day. A little Michael Jackson in the desert turned out to be quite fun! (Unfortunately, I realized that all of the music I had meant to transfer onto my iphone for my hike was still on my computer back home! So, I was stuck with a very limited selection out here). Half Slow was in the same area and wanted me to tell him what mile I was at with the App on my phone. I wondered why he couldn’t figure that out for himself! (It takes time for the GPS to work…) I got a bit lost again soon after, but finally started the last climb of the day. I found a nice spot to rest and contemplated stopping there for the night. I was hoping the girls would come by so I could give them a congratulatory treat for their first 20 mile day, but they weren’t coming. I decided to get a little more distance in with the remaining light.
After passing Half Slow’s tent, I saw a wide gully beneath the trail and decided I could set up my tent down in it. There was still plenty of light out so I was able to take my time and watch the sky change as dusk fell.
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Today was a good day.

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