I look at the body in the mirror and do not recognize what appears. Legs lean, strong and tanned, but the rest of me is so skinny. Collar bones and ribs too visible, skin pale and almost grey in the fluorescent light. The Sierras are leaving their mark, making us pay in flesh for the privilege of passing through. We have all lost weight, some of us can measure it in bra sizes. “Eating” is an actual item on my to do list today.
At Stellar Brew, independent coffee shop extraordinaire, I eat vegan muffins still warm from the oven, organic apricots hand picked in nearby Bishop, and a soy chai tea. In normal life, I would sit here for hours working, but today there are chores.
Across the street at the outfitter, I replace gear that is showing the thousand miles of hard use. Insoles for my new shoes that were waiting at the hotel last night, a half size up for my growing feet; sungloves minus the holes. I try on a new, better-fitting shirt that impossible not to want just because it is clean. The kind woman at the very hiker-friendly store brings me to the back and opens up a fresh shipment, insisting that I need a better color than the terrible bland khaki, knowing without asking that I will be wearing it everyday for weeks on end. We find one in a gentle blue and I hand over my credit card. Goodbye desert tent that was formerly white. You served me so well, and still emerge stink-free from the wash (100% nylon friends, beware the reeking polyester), but I can stand your grime no longer.
I return to the task of eating: vegan icecream sandwich, coconut water, a halva bar or incredible caloriie density and more local fruit from the natural food store, plus treats for my resupply. I need only carry two days food from here to Tuolumne and vow to bring only foods I have not had on trail before: vegan cream cheese and muffins, apricots, flax crackers, organic apples.
Back at the Motel I chat with the occupants of the room next to mine. A pair of almost retired friends who have known each other since college, at UCSD of all places. They are just up here to day hike for the weekend, but one of them is a San Diego trail angel, who helps shuttle hikers to the border each spring. They kindly offer to drive me anywhere I need to go in down “just knock” they say.
But instead I hermit in my room, taking advantage of the incredibly rare opportunity to have a large vegan pizza complete with vegan cheese, vegan sausage and loads of veggies, delivered directly to my room. I almost eat the whole thing, but restrain myself, saving two pieces for breakfast. Oh Mammoth, you are going to be very difficult to leave.
And, as a town bonus, this is what happens when I pre-rinse my socks and gaiters in the sink before doing laundry: