Day 40 Escaping the Vortex, Heading for the Hills

Miles: 8
Total: 710
Water: Store faucet; 1L campground faucet; 1L South Fork Kern River

The sea of tiny tents beings to stir around 7am, which is sleeping in for hikers. I look outside. Yes, I am camped in a junkyard, surrounded by an out of commission outhouse, old theatre seats, derelict trailers, and rusted bike parts. Another first, if you don’t count the burned building site from yesterday or the haunted outhouse from a while back. 

The hiker masses gravitate toward the deck, waiting for rides to breakfast, for the store to open, for the generator to come on. I am on a laundry mission, trying to get in on a half full load ahead of my on the laundry list. Success, and clean-ish clothes, hanging to dry.

Chores and eating take up most of the day. My right foot has been swollen the last few days, to the point where the shoe no longer fits. Resolving my shoe situation is at the top of the list but tricky without cell service or wifi. I struggle with the pay phone, trying to make a long distance call so Stephen can order me shoes a size up. But the pay phone eats my quarters, demands four more for a four minute call. Then I get a busy message, and ancient recording in male mid century announcer voice “I’m sorry, all circuits are busy right now.” I imagine switchboard ladies on coffee break. I try again, get voicemail, panic and hang up. And the phone eats my quarters by the dollar. PhD in communication, and can’t use a phone, I joke. 

I want to hike out today. Friends left this morning, I would rather take days off with internet. And there’s a bathroom situation, with one of the porta potties actually overflowing the others will be there soon.

But there are more thunderclouds moving in, lightening flashes and some raindrops. And who wants to hike out from cover into a storm? At 5pm I call it, put the shoes on, gather my things and walk off with Rooster and Crunchberry not far behind. 

 The sky gets clearer as I walk, the trail climbing toward new heights. I will soon be up over ten thousand feet, not much below for the next week. Already it is cooler here, and though there are seven tents tucked in a little fold of trees, the breeze feels lonelier. 

I grab a wet wipe for my token evening hiker bath and realize that they are scented. Which means that technically they should be in my bear canister. Which is under a tree out of reach. Right. I fall asleep thinking of how ironic it would be to have my tent shredded over wet wipes. Especially given that others are still sleeping with their excess food. 

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