The sun is awake before I am. I do not like to night hike, it throws me completely off my already natural sleep cycle.
It's only 10 miles to the Andersons house known as Casa de Luna, our next little pit stop. I set myself up wth some food for the day and get my shoes on. My socks are wearing out so fast right now, due to tiny bits of grit and sand wearing down my insoles. Not much can be done but buy new insoles or socks.
With my pack fully loaded I turn out to the trail. It's already pretty warm at 7am. I take off my fleece and trod up a hill. It doesn't take long for the sun to begin to burn me. So I pull out and attach my umbrella. It feels weird carrying the damn thing, but it works! I feel much cooler and it actually circulates air back down on to me.
I meet Baloo and AJ at a trailside bench and we snack and talk until we're all antsy to get going again. The trail rolls for a bit. I see a wet looking outcropping of rocks in the turn of the trail and pause for a moment, until I realize there's a whole bunch of bees pouring out from the rocks and then I run for my life!
The heat grows and I feel delirious. Even with the umbrella, it's hot a hell.
I pause for some water and Baloo and AJ catch up. Only 2 miles to go. The water in my bottles is hot.
The tral begins to drop down to a road I can hear and I see the fight station where I can get some water and pause for a bit, before I try and hitch and or walk into town.
A guy named Day Dream is there, Baloo and AJ follow up. I cook a little lunch and drink some water.
"I am going to materialize us a hitch." I declare.
And sure enough a white SUV rolls up and asks if we want a ride to Casa de Luna.
When we get there, we're given some ground rules about the place. In the front yard is a place to paint rocks and lounge on couches. A table for electronics and food. Hiker boxes and potapotties. We help ourselves to pizza and reunite with Bananas, Annie (Second Wind) and Fran (Little Engine).
Bananas and I make a convienince store run for beer and snacks. The little town is very quiet and nestled in a deep valley.
When we get back, a few other hikers arrive. Second Wind paints everyone's nails from a communal nail polish box. We joke and laugh and poke fun at each other.
Bananas sits next to me and we observe a young couple we've been leapfrogging for weeks now.
"I kind of hate them. In that jealous way you know? They're just so sweet to each other. I want that." He tells me.
"Yeah, I feel you."
The girl curls up in her partners lap and they touch each other, interlace their hands together as she reads a book to him.
As the evening moves on, more people become drunk. I take my tiny beer buzz and wander off into the large expanse of the Andersons backyard and find a place in the manzanita to pitch my tent. I crawl into my sleeping bag while I hear folks holler drunkenly into the night.
When I wake, there are pancakes and coffee. I stand in the kitchen with Terry and listen to her tell me stories from seasons past. Folks like herself make thruhiking a lot more comfortable for us. They put a lot of work into making sure we're fed, cared for and given hugs and encourgment.
We make a run to a small cafe, where I order a banana cream pie milkshake and a big breakfast burrito. I seclude myself from the others to write and be alone for a little bit. We all walk back full and twitchy from the sugar laden milkshakes.
The day moves on in a lethargic manner. We nap and eat and laze about. We debate on wether or not we should night hike. I make a case for very early morning starts, since it allows us a long siesta and then we can usually fall alseep around sundown and not throw ourselves off with super late nights. The temperatures while hot, are not so insanely hot that it would warrant strictly night hiking. The group is a little divided about it.
I get all my gear packed up and things sorted and set my pack down in the front yard. Whole groups of new folks begin to pour in and it makes us antsy. We all lounge in the hammocks in the waning light, waiting for a natcho dinner before going back to the trail. Me, Little Engine and Bananas decide to hike out at 3am and the other decide to night hike.
Terry drives us to the trailhead and gives us each a big warm hug. We saunter off into the brush where there's a campsite just near the road. We pitch our tents and I struggle with one of my little guy lines, I sit in the dirt and darkness to fix it. I can't seem to live up to my name tonight, Perfect Pitch. Bananas frets about spiders and Little Engine is stressing a bit too.
Soon, we're all in our tents. I do some last minute next day prep, snacks, coffee with chocolate whey, breakfast food bars and meat sticks.
The night is warm and I hear an owl hoot, small creatures stir in the leave litter around me. Bananas starts to snor, and I sprawl out on my sleeping pad, eyes closed and fast asleep.