The wind whips up and dies down, whips up and dies down. It rattles the scrubby shrubs and it sounds like bones rattling through the night. It is eerie, but beautiful. The moon light is so bright, it is like an otherworldly day. I slip in and out of good R.E.M. sleep. I am woke by the scent of rain on the air and the temperature shifting. A jolt of fear pulses through me. I peek my head out of my vestibule. Towards the east a mountain top is being coated and covered in fog, it slips and curls down its slopes. Like claws reaching up into the sky. The sky is clear though. But I smell the dampening air all around me. I tremble a little. What if it rains? Will I need to leave since I'm in this wash? I curl back into my quilt.
I'll wait till the patter of rain on my tent. I can hear a nearby tent collapse and the hiker gets out to fix it.
I slip back into sleep.
I'm looking at my phone. It's a video of my father doing something while he is drunk and it's embarrassing. I start to cry and a person next me to me laughs and asks why I'm sad. Another hiker is there, Evan and he defends me. I get angry and I grab a shovel and hit the person who laughed at me with it. They fall to the ground and as I go in for the killing blow, they turn into a plant and my strike chops off a rootball.
Laughter jolts me out of very deep sleep. The others have woken and are laughing. I was in such deep sleep and the dream so lucid reconnecting with my reality was like walking back into another dream. My face is almost in the dirt and it's 4:30am. I slept in.
I pack up very fast and for some reason, I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm... in a very weird headspace. The bones in the hills rattle at me. The wind whooshes.
I pop a caffeine pill. I force myself to eat a bar of nuts and meat stick. I walk out of camp and up a dirt road to the trail. I poop, and then get to the real business: I hike.
I think about the dream. The obvious symbolism. The root of our problems is also our medicine, we can utilize it and transform it into something that heals us.
This is the work of a witch. Transmutation. Making the medicine. Healing. To heal isn't easy. It is painful, it is ordeal.
My father is alcoholic and has been battling with it for some time. Over this past year, I too have recognized my susceptibility to alcoholism. My relationship to it is something I still am working out.
I turn over a few other things dwelling on my mind. I'm only 60+ miles in and my future after this tugs at me. Not now, I think.
Right now it's this mountain side and making 13 miles to Sissors crossing to take shelter from the incoming storm growing on the mountains east of me.
My right foot hurts pretty badly. The blister on the ball of my foot is angry and it makes walking challenging. My water is low and my food too, so I am light and fast. I walk as mindfully as possible.
I approach a gate, but something white flashes to my left. Datura wrightii! The vespertine queen of the desert. I've been waiting to see her from the start. Her flower is as big as a plate. I run to it through the brush. I smell it and everything deadly and mysterious of the desert, those rattling bones in the night are condensed into this singular flower. She's amazing. Intoxicating. Alluring.
I walk away wistfully back to the trail. Up a road and back to the PCT. But my hat is gone! I turn back and Pedia comes striding in. "The flower stole my hat!" I yell.
Its there, right at the base. Tricky Datura.
Pedia and I hike on. Eventually we find Honeybuns and Knock on Wood, Acid Jesus and Banana Pants! No Dominic, so I give them my oranges I grabbed yesterday. They all greedily share it.
I take an ibuprofen and caffeine pill. I lead from the front, and the pain eventually melts away. We all laugh and talk together. It's good to be back with my friends!
Dominic is about an hour ahead by his distinctive tracks. I like tracking people by their shoes print.
We drop to the desert floor. The wind is fierce. We get to a road junction so that we can hitch into Julian. Eventually I catch a ride with two young people from LA. There's hardly any space for me. They're listening to this American life and we drive up up up into the ominous cloud in the mountains that's been building all day.
In Julian, the mist swirls all around. We're in a cloud. I find Honeybuns and Knock on Wood. We head to a bakery for free pie. I get pecan with whipped cream and coffee. So many people are there. I sign the log. Everyone is frantically trying to figure out a place to stay. Pedia and I consider asking Deb.
After pie, everyone goes to Carmens. Basically a hikers only joint with beer and burgers. It's insanely chaotic and I feel very overwhelmed, but happy and excited to be with basically all the folks I've socialized with on trail so far. Deb offers to take 4 of us in.
I drink a few beers and I'm fuzzy. I talk and mingle for a long time. It's only 2pm but it feels much later. Eventually everyone has a place to stay and we get our ride up to the hill where Deb is at. Me, Pedia, Acid Jesus and Banana Pants snack and talk and stay up way too late.
I collapse into a bed with Thomas the Train sheets and I sleep more deeply than I ever have before.