Water: KOA tap; aloe juice, coconut water, grocery store tap water
I pack up in the predawn light, eager to get up and over a big exposed hill before the worst of the heat. Shenanigans is still snoring beside me. She got a ride up the trail and slack packed back yesterday, so she could sleep in this morning.
Up and over I go, powering through, passing others on the climb. Then a pause under a highway with new hikers to meet in the tunnel passage, the only good shade on this stretch. Then through the Vasquez rocks where the trail is a confusion of day use paths, and a road walk to ‘town’ a small collection a shops and restaurants.
- Aloe drink
- Most of a pint of Butter Pecan Soy Dream
- Fig Cookies
- A can of Olives
- Coconut water
- A giant pickle in a plastic bag, juice included
- Several kinds of chips and Salsa
We share stories from the trail, cementing new friendships. Greg and Cheese night hiked in and tell tales of being terrified by mountain lions in the night. “We could hear them roaring” they describe in earnest. Laughter erupts when we explain that there is a big cat reserve near the KOA. Those were actual lions. Of the African variety.
All kinds of strange animals today. There’s a poster on the community board advertising fainting goats for sale. Goats that actually pas out and fall over when stressed. Of course we contemplate their merits as pack animals
A man come out of the store and gives us $60. “Get yourselves some pizza and beer he says.” We are speechless. We put five dollars in Grey’s shoe. He is napping and when he wakes we tell him the shoe fairy came. He looks around quite confused, wondering where the money came fom. So we tell him that someone thought he was genuinely homeless.
Lemonade arrives. We’ve been overlapping on and off for weeks. It’s the end of his section hike and he buys us lemonade for a goodbye toast. We miss you Lemonade! As of now I have been here for over six hours. Instead of feeling rested I feel nauseous. The sugar. The heat. The almost pint of Soy Dream that will not settle.
At six we head out into the evening light. I still feel sickish, and it is still hot. We walk the road, and the a trail that winds its way up into the hills. We are still climbing as the sun sets, as the moon rises and lights the path. City lights appear down below, urban spillover from Los Angeles. There’s a road up here on top of the hills, but not a road we should be on. A headlamp appears, it’s Tooth Fairy, confirming that we are off track.
Some moonlight wandering and the group, having gathered a few other lost souls is back on track and at the spring. But the water, dribbling into a mud puddle, smells of sulphur. And there is nowhere to camp. I feel defeated, having pushed my not well feeling self this far. But we have to press on 2.6 more miles. That or sleep right on a trail that will have considerable night traffic.
My tall friends start walking with a purpose and I can’t keep up without running. Feet rolling with rocks in any see, bare legs pushing through what I hope is not poison oak. I am so exhausted. Still having strange belly feelings, haven’t eaten since lunch. And downhill hurts. I keep on trying to keep up until I can’t. I stop and cry trail tears alone in the dark. Poodle tears that have been welling up for days.
At 11:30pm I am back with the team, all tucked in my sleeping bag in a four person cowboy row squished in a tiny tentsite. Too tired too cook, I eat breakfast for dinner. Banana nut granola with soy milk. It is the best granola I have ever eaten. I fall asleep instantly and do not wake up until it’s a bright new day.