I heard the bonfire people drive by last night, but luckily, no one saw me. I ate my breakfast, packed up, and got going, surprised that I hadn’t yet seen SunDog and Giggles.
A couple of miles later, I saw a male hiker brushing his teeth in the woods. It was Feather! It was strange to see him all by himself. The sight made me feel a little sad. I asked him where his friends were and he said that he hadn’t caught up to them yet. As I walked on, I wondered if people thought it was sad that I was almost always alone. I didn’t feel that way, myself, but my reaction to Feather made me think about that.
He soon caught up to me and we hiked together for a few minutes before he went on ahead. We both hoped to get to Belden today, which was now a mere 23 miles away. I read that there were outhouses at Buck Summit road and really looked forward to that. When I arrived, however, I saw that they were a good distance from the trail and decided they weren’t worth the effort to walk to them.
As I headed up the other side of the trail, the man who had offered me marshmellows last night called out to me, asking if I had remembered and then asking if I had a few minutes… There was something else he wanted to discuss. “Do you know that Jesus is always with you?”. So there was an ulterior motive behind the snacks… After I answered, he probed me some more and then went into a lengthy monologue. I listened patiently and thought that would be the end. It wasn’t. He wanted to know if he could pray for me. Yes, I told him. I thought that was a kind thing to do. Then, he asked me to recite a prayer after him, which I hadn’t ever been asked to do. It kind of felt like taking a vow. I had to remember the words and repeat them back. I was extremely patient, did a nice job, and finally was allowed to head into the hills again. He thought that would give me plenty of things to think about for the next 20 miles!
A few feet in, I found a trail register and spent many minutes thumbing through it, seeing who was ahead of me and how far, and if anyone had anything interesting to say. Lint had written down a quote by Charles Bukowski, which I really liked: “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
It reminded me a lot of many conversations that I had with my Swiss friend. His heart is caged with so much fear that he won’t fully embark in a relationship. He keeps the person a good distance away, leaving them hanging in some uncertain middle ground, waiting. He is also frightened by the word “love”. I told him so many times that the trying is what is important, that no one knows what the future holds, but you have to give things all you have in order for them to have any meaning. You will never know unless you really try.
I had kept my pack on while I was reading, but now, I had to give my shoulders a break before I could continue! As I put my pack back on, a runner approached. She was very friendly and even stopped to walk with me for a few minutes. She said that she was planning on running to Belden and I told her that is where I was headed, too! Obviously, she would get there much earlier than I was going to. She told me that what I was doing was incredible and as she ran off, she called back, “You’re awesome!”. I told her she was awesome, too! I think running is even harder than backpacking! And she was running almost 20 miles in these mountains!
Soon, I had to stop for a snack to fuel up. I felt so pokey today! It was another hot day and I felt dirty, sweaty, and tired.
Then, I started the six mile descent. I hadn’t seen anyone since the morning and really needed an energy boost. I did have intermittent reception and checked facebook for a little feeling of connection and amusement. UB said that he was starting his hike from Washington the next day, so I sent him a message wishing him well. He wanted to try hiking the trail in 90 days going southbound. I thought the idea was rather ridiculous, myself, but sometimes, you just have to step aside and lovingly let people learn what they need to learn.
The trail was supposed to be littered with poison oak, but I had forgotten how to identify it and was never sure if what I was seeing was it or not! It definitely didn’t appear to be as bad as it was made out to be!
Slowly, I descended the switchbacks, grateful that the long descent was not as steep as I had been dreading. I finally crossed some train tracks and headed down further. My stomach was in pain again, which was very frustrating. I’m always hopeful that my body will win the war, but then, the sickness rears up again.
I finally reached the store around 7:00 and had to borrow one of the employee’s phones to call the Braatens for a ride to their house as I had no service here. She said there was a full house there tonight and that I would have to camp. If I wanted food, I would have to eat here and then she could come pick me up afterward. I used the bathroom and went out on the deck and ordered a hamburger.
It was nice to sit for a few minutes, but I still felt like I had to hurry, and I wished that I had some company. When I finished, I called again to let her know I was ready and by the time I stepped outside, a car pulled up! Feather and Lullabi were inside. They wanted to buy some cases of beer at the store. As we waited for them, I told Brenda about my stomach pain and she thought I had C. Dif. This was the second time I had heard this after Andrea Jane had mentioned it at Tuolemne Meadows and I felt that she was right. She said it is not uncommon to get it after being treated with antibiotics for giardia. She also said I would need different antibiotics to treat this.
She dropped us off at the bottom of the house and we walked over to find Laptop, Sailor Moon, Travis, and Leftover sitting outside. There were a couple of girls lying in their sleeping bags on the porch who I never saw before, and who didn’t say hi. Inside, I found FunSize, Siesta, and Weebee. There was one bathroom for everyone and since it was just about bedtime, it was heavily in use. My main goal was to take a shower. I also had to find a place to sleep before it got too dark to see. I walked around and found a place by the side of the house and then asked Lullabi if he thought that was okay. By the time I brought my pack over, someone else had started setting up there! Luckily, there was enough space for the two of us. Lullabi started to give me some advice, but stopped after realizing that I had set up camp alone many nights by now. “I think you’ve got this, Wendy!” he said as he walked away.
I went inside, waited for the bathroom to be free, and then took my opportunity to shower. Hikers grew impatient while I was in there and asked me to hurry up. When I finished, FunSize asked if I would join them at the table. There were a couple of muffins sitting out on a pan, and although my brain thought it would be nice to have one, my stomach was not interested at all. How strange to be a thru-hiker with no desire to eat! I had hiked three marathons in a row these past few days! I found my resupply boxes and FunSize had a lot of fun guessing what was inside the oddly shaped package that held my sleeping pad and shoes, that I had asked to be sent to Drakesbad. I cut open my regular resupply box, picked up the notes, and was horrified to discover that this was not the box I had packed for the next section! It was the box meant for Sonora Pass that was mistakenly shipped to the Southern Kennedy Meadows at mile 700! They had had it forwarded here without telling me. I looked through the pile of boxes on the floor and saw no other ones for me. I could not believe it! Once again, everything that I had planned out for what I specifically needed in the next section was not shipped for me! I couldn’t even communicate with them as I had no reception here. FunSize told me that I could stop in the town of Burney to resupply, but I didn’t feel like I could afford the time it would take to go off trail to do that with my tight schedule! He was kind enough to take photos of his town guide pages and let me carry the hard copies. And at least I had some food to take with me.
This had been a long, hard, and draining day. It was now past 10:00 and the hikers were all going to bed. FunSize and the others planned on getting an early start, but I really wanted to wash my clothes. I asked how difficult it was to get to the laundromat. FunSize said he just washed his clothes in the tub. Although he wished I could be ready to head out in the morning with them, he told me that I should do what I needed to do. I nodded. He then said that it was a comfort to him knowing that I would be close behind. SO nice!
I washed a few of my dirtiest pieces of clothing in the sink and hung them up on the clothesline, knowing they wouldn’t dry in the night air. Then, I walked over to my sleeping bag, next to the garden tools, with the other guy’s head near my feet. It was 11pm! No rest for the weary…