Miles: 20.5 + .5 for water
Water: From creek yesterday, 3L form the Tule Springs tank
So it seems that I have a trail name: Fixie. Like the bicycle without gears. Uphill, downhill, morning and evening, I tend to go the same speed. I push extra hard going up, but never quite go fast enough on the way back down. And I have proved quite helpful at fixing minor troubles. Also, it rhymes with Pixie.
Trail names, for the uninitiated, are the norm among long distance hikers. There are lots of ways to get one, carrying something unusual, getting caught up in major or minor mishaps, or just having some small quirk. Like repeatedly talking about milk cravings (Moo Juice). Saying the right thing at the right time (Shenanigans!). They are usually given by others though you have the chance to refuse. I have already turned down Kit Kat, which is cute, but something I can’t eat because of allergies, and Thigh Chafe, no explanation necessary.
Our group now consists of: D.O.G, Grey Cachet, Shenanigans, Moo Juice, Fixie and Audrey, yet unnamed. Each morning I give Audrey a new name suggestion to turn down, like dead mice ‘presents’ from a cat: Cowgirl, Rock Star, Galaxy, Wide Load. But nothing sticks.
In the late afternoon we pass several hikers we have not met before, the first new people in days on trail. It seems we have caught the slow end of the bubble that holed up in Julian during the storm. For the first time, I am introduced as Fixie, which feels strange. But trail names are followed by name stories and trail talk, diverting greetings from ‘real’ life questions and worries.
Among friends, water is now part of standard greeting “see you at water” we say. There are multiple sources today, but several are far from appealing. The water report (confirmed by direct observations) describes the one where we camped as full of dead bugs, with an oily sheen on top, and a later one simply as “disgusting.” I calculate and carry carefully to avoid desperate measures.
Lunch break is delayed until the next good source, and as part of a general push forward. Between the paradise Cafe, known for some of the best burgers on trail, 25 miles ahead, and impending weather, we are eager to reach the next road. We arrive at water tired with achy feet, and collapse in the sandy soil near the water tank. Others show off their blisters, a gruesome display of raw red flesh, white flappy skin. Some angry open wounds several inches across.
My feet are holding up surprisingly well. They are dirty, generally sore and covered in heat rash, but somehow still blister free at mile 140. I cannot say the same for my shoes, that now have holes two fingers wide and growing on each side. Better them than my feet. Hopefully I can exchange them in Idyllwild.