I wake and spend most my day getting my food and gear sorted. I send off a few clothes and gear I'm not using anymore to lighten my pack load.
The afternoon stretches out and it's hot. It leaves all the hikers lethargic. I sit in one of the trailers, typing out a blog post and drinking water.
Puppy and another volunteer Tartan give me a sun umbrella to try out. If I don't like it, I'll just leave it in a hiker box or pass it along to someone else who might like it. Puppy gives me some Sierra advice and suggests that a full thruhike might not be possible this year. It causes me to reassess my plan. I wonder about section hiking, bailing out and picking it up again next year. Everything is so unknown with the record snow year that California and Oregon are having.
At about 6pm AJ and I take the last truck load into town. We hang in front of the store and drink some energy drinks for the night hike we're about to attempt. AJ is drinking whiskey and I decide to call Rider and tell him about my possible Sierra alternate plan.
"I might abort. Take the rest of the year off and try a thruhike next year. I really don't know, everything is up in the air and I just gotta see how it is when I get to Kennedy Meadows." I tell him.
He hears me. And I can hear the stress in his voice, with his job and everything he has going on in his life. We decide to play it all by ear. I don't want to thruhike next year, but I also want to do a full thru. I just have to walk until I can't anymore.
"I'll come to Coos Bay and get us a place to stay if it doesn't work out," I tell him.
"I love you," I tell him. Then we hang up.
AJ and I get our pack situated. While we do so, there's a man asking us questions about how we hike and the like. His wife waits in a truck while he smokes a cigarette. As he gets in the truck, he talks to another friend just outside of it, and sig heils him. "White Power!" He yells while laughing.
AJ and I stand with our packs on, mouths agape.
"Nope. NOOO." We both say in unison.
The man in the truck does it again and laughs. We are both frozen and bewildered. Is this guy joking? What the actual fuck?
The mans friend is walking into the grocery store and stops and looks at us.
"Y'all are some politically correct types huh? Well, what about freedom of speech?"
AJ and I hit the road in absolute disgust. What even just happened? We talk about it for a long time.
A woman pulls over and gives us a ride to the dirt road that takes us up into the trail. AJ is a bit drunk and I am sober. We bring out our head lamps as we hike into the night. Power lines crackle overhead. The sun is gone and night creatures come out. I mince my steps, but we make good time as we climb and climb. When we come to a trail registry I sign it saying: First off, FUCK NAZIS. Secondly, niiiggghht hiiikkke! - PITCH
Once we reach a saddle, another group of hikers join us. Through the late night, we find a spring and we filter water there while we sing songs and I crush leaves of wild mint under everyone's nose. It smells feral and skunky.
We move on into the moonlit grass hills and looks for places to camp. Am so tired I can't walk right. My head lamp makes me dizzy and I just want to sleep. Once the sun is down my body says sleep... sleeeeep.
We drop down into a road and find a surprise water cashe. The camp site that surrounds it smells like piss, but we're so tired we don't care. We lay out our ground sheets, pads and sleeping bags and plop down. I roll a cigarette from some lost bag of American Sprit tobacco I found and light it. AJ takes a swig of his Jim Beam and offers it to me. I take a few drinks from it.
Silence descend upon us and we hear the pitter patter of tiny feet all around us.
"What the fuck is that? Do you hear it?"
The sound is all around us and it feels like a thousand wild critters are closing in on us. AJ throws a rock into the brush. It stops. We look at each other. It starts up again.
"God fucking damnit!" He says.
We put our shoes on, grab rocks and our poles and walk into the bushes with our headlamps on. There are no eyes to be seen.
"I think it's just lots of mice or something. Maybe skinks lurking in the leaves? Or coyotes that passed though?" I say.
We go back to our pads and lay down. Eventually, the sound doesn't matter anymore and I pass out into a deep exhausted sleep.