During the night Dominic wakes up flashing his headlamp around him. I could hear talking and yelling from far off, voices of drunk sounding men. My flight or fight response kicked in and sleep was hard. My mind flashed back to when I was violently woken up by a raging drunk on the Oregon Coast. I don't sleep very easily. My right shin radiates pain all the way up into my hip, and pain shoots up every now and then, waking me. Four days in, I think. This isn't awful, but it isn't great. Just gotta see how it goes.
Will I ever get my precious REM sleep?
We all planned to leave very early and camel up. Red lights are on and all of us are shuffling around at around 4am. Yesterday we had heard of a storm system moving in. So we are making steady but not big miles to take shelter in Julian.
A raccoon gets into Frans food bag and Dominic had a cat sniffing around him. We run in and out of the bathroom. Aall of us hobbling around in the dawn. In sets of two or threes we head out, lights bobbing along the road.
I love the predawn hiking hours. I turn my headlamp off to train my eyes to see better in the dark. The landscape it's so stunning, I do my best to burn it into my memory. I'm behind Hiklopedia, who was named just the night before for her knowledge of all things related to caring for your feet and wounds while hiking. She stops to pee behind a boulder and as I stride around a corner, the sky pink and blue. I get to see that precious moment of the tips of the sun rising over the mountain. Great joy and happiness fill me. I am in such a beautiful place.
The hike is good and swift. We're moving well and fast. I feel good. On the climbs yesterday I could feel the strain in my Achilles, it's still there and I am being very mindful of my walking form. Short steps, mid foot strike, no locking my knees out but keeping them gently bent. This helps me out a lot and I cover ground more efficiently and with less pain.
We come up on the next water source, a big cistern that's green and has dead moths in it. I don't need any water, and I sip a little a then move on again.
"Are you really a witch?" Asks a young kid, who I'd seen in Mt. Laguna. He helped me with my camera.
"I am," I reply.
He asks how that works for me, while we apply sun screen. It's hard to describe how it works and it is interesting to see what folks first thoughts are about witches, or witchcraft: that it is evil, or that they are bad.
To sum it up in the words of Peter Grey, "The witch was created by the land to speak and act for it."
I do my best to embody this, this is why I'm in the wilderness right now an why I chose to do this. To know her a little more deeply, to be changed on a molecular level. Drink the wild water, eat the dirt, sleep in the folds of mountains.
He drops me quickly and I don't try to keep up. Hikelopedia catches me and we hike together. I worry that I talk to much, or that I come off too strongly opinionated. Still, I don't know that I can be my full strange self around others. Will they like me? Am I too much? I don't know.
We hear burbling water! Such a precious sound out here. We feel blessing for so much water.
Three miles left to our afternoon siesta spot to escape the burning sun. I can feel a blister forming on the ball of my foot. I limp along, the last three miles hurt. But we've done 12 miles by 10am and that's pretty good. I pass by Brian and Evan.
The point towards the road.
I feel a wet gushing feeling in my right shoe. The blister pops. Gross. The feeling is so awkward as I walk towards the road. Hikelopedia is talking to a woman who is leaning against her car.
"How is your hike so far, would you like an apple, banana, orange, trail mix?" She asks cheerfully. "They're cold!"
"AN ORANGE PLEASE."
She hands me a cool orange in the trailhead parking lot. It's hot and I peel it frantically putting a slice of it to my mouth. The texture of food with cool juicy cells of sugar and citric acid burst into my mouth. It's the most amazing orange of my life. She tells her name is Deb and that if we'd like, we can get a ride to her place for the afternoon for showers, food and laundry. She'll be back in two hours to pick us up when she's done running errands. She gives us her number and tell us to text her if we decide we'd like to do it.
We wander over to the horse trough. There's a tiny bit of shade and a group of us pile up in it. I call my boyfriend and while we talk, two coyotes look at me from a hill and trot away.
Pedia and I decide yes, yes we will go with Deb for an afternoon of rest and then come back and pick up the trail in the evening.
We walk back to the parking lot and there's a ring of hikers clinging to the shade around the pit toilets. Knock on Wood, Honeybuns, Spring, Fran, Megaphone and many others are there.
Deb tells us she can take two more hikers. Genie and Asiago load up with us and we take off. We ride through the small down of Julian and Deb parks to grab sandwich supplies, then we're whisked away to her big house up on a hill overlooking the whole valley.
We stand on her covered porch, she brings us a change of clothes and we each get to take a shower. I'm the last one in and I look at myself in the mirror. Pink cheeked and tanned. My calves are sun burns and my hands and arms are golden. I step under the hot water and scrub my body and wash my hair. I feel amazing. I put on a cotton sun dress and step into the kitchen where they're making sandwich fixings and a big salad.
There guacamole, homemade sauerkraut, pickled beets and eggs, turkey, two cheeses, salsa, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado oil base mayo, spicy mustard, three types of salt and black pepper. I make a giant sandwich of all of this one pumpernickel bread. Deb brings me a glass of homemade raspberry kombucha. I cry a little inside with joy.
All our clothes are washed and dried. We sort our packs. I lay on the couch and doze off for a minute. I can smell the ocean air from here, sweeping in from the east. It's perfect here and Deb is amazingly generous with us. Soon, it's time for us to go and we all load up.
She drops us back on the dusty road. It's cooler now and Pedia and I set off. We both decide and joke that we can't tell our friends about this amazing trail magic. It's just too good to share. I did manage to pack out two oranges for Dominic though. Since he teased me for going.
Pedia and I fly down the mountain. Down down down. I've discovered that using trekking poles makes me lazy with my feet, and my stride is sloppy and jarring to my feet when I'm holding my poles. The wind picks up the future we descend and hike.
"Look at this poop!" I exclaim. "It's big and hairy, much bigger than coyote. Cougar?"
"Maybe. I don't know what cougar scat looks like," Pedia says.
We go three miles and decide to sleep in wash with a few other tents pitched. The wind isn't bad but it's not great. I feel so tired. Another hiker named Sarah talks to us about the incoming storm. She heard it may rain tonight, but there's no sign of it.
True to my namesake I pitch my tent well and use rocks to secure it. I'm tucked behind some bushes and it breaks some of the wind. Something in my gut tells me I'm going to get some REM sleep in tonight. I'm so tired.
I waste no time and curl up on my pad. The ground is warm and the cool breeze fills my tent. I doze off easily and very content.