When I wake, it's WOOSH, WOOSH, WOOSH.
The massive blades turn slowly in the dim morning light. In these hours, the wind isn't too bad. Calm even. I look over to see if Twisted is stirring and I see no movement.
Sitting up, I do my morning routine. Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stuff them away and my other items. Mix my coffee and chocolate whey protein. Put my socks and shoes on, stuff away my ground sheet. Stand gingerly and then... well, then it's time to hike.
Twisted is mostly done packing up by the time I am. He takes the lead and we begin our walk for the day. It's going to be a long one. I am aiming for a water trough 25 miles away.
The morning is calm and the light from the sun begins to creep up from the valley below. Already I am sweating. Twisted pauses for me at cattle gates and I don't know what to think of it.
Are we hiking together? I don't know.
We begin to drop down to a highway crossing. Suddenly, Twisted throws his trekking poles down.
"FUCK!" He yells.
There's only one reason for a hiker to do something like this, so randomly.
"What did you forget?" I ask.
"My hammock straps! They're still on the tree! FUCK!"
Eight miles away to be exact. We try to figure out a way for him to get a ride back to the highway. He decides to take a bus from the main highway we're on and then try and hitch back.
We go our seperate ways. I sit on a rock, by the trail that paralels the main highway. I change from my cut off shirt to my sun shirt. Apply a little sunscreens and fill myself on some sugary snacks for the upcoming climb. It's already sweltering.
I heave my pack and walk a little, watching a raven do a dance and strange sounds on the wire fence next to me. Coo coo, it goes while it bounces up and down.
I hike on.
I notice bees in the sky. Like lots of bees. I see the channel of them, their own path through the sky. Soon after I see the hives and I walk fast and quietly while holding my breath. One shouldn't get in the way of bees on business.
Soon, the trail turns into a wash for a bit. But it gets confusing and I walk too far into the old wash. Then I can see where the trail parallels next to it and I climb up and over and, ahhh. Trail. Smooth, delightful trail.
It's hot. I hear a buzzzz.
A female hummingbird hovers in front of my face for a moment. This keeps happening and it means something and I don't know what, I think.
I turn up and begin to climb the hill that faces me with some slight dread in my stomach. Up and up it goes. It kills me for whatever reason. I'm dripping sweat and languishing in the heat. I break out the umbrella given to me at Hiker Heaven. It catches the wind under it and provides me with some relief from the suns burning rays as I climb. I slowly but surely begin to reach the crest and it all levels out. I am longing for my siesta time.
Under the shade of some pines I drop all of my things and pull out my sit pad and ground sheet. I shovel chips and a meat stick into my face along with one of my dreaded hemp seed bars I can barely stand anymore. Then I roll a ciggarette.
I look off and down into the valley I came from. I walked all of that, I think to myself. The sensation of being totally alone pleases and excites me.
I curl into a ball, while huge flies zoom around me, making such a racket in the high elevation silence. I doze off into sleep, in the sweet scent of pine and its pitch. Other hikers pass me, and I see Twisted, who finally made his way back. He dips into some tree up the trail.
The sun lowers itself into the sky. Time to start moving again. My maps show me that I'll be moving through a forested area, which means nice dappled shade and not direct sunlight.
The trail rolls and rolls and I cruise with good speed. I'm getting stronger I can feel and my feet feel pretty good, except for a small spot on the top part of my right ankle. The twinge of tendonitis.
The golden hour arrives and the light spills through the dusty trees. Closer and closer to my destination, a little spring that runs off into a trough.
I weigh the pros and cons of hiking alone. For one, I am more viscerally aware of everything and my emotions when alone. Something is drawn away from me when I am consistently with people. I have many, many more miles to figure it out.
Dusk comes, and I skirt around the eastern flank of a mountain. My surroundings becoming a little more wild than before as I inch closer and closer to the Sierra.
The Sierra! What wonders and dangers will it hold for me?
I pick up my pace and fly into the where the trail drops down into the spring. Folks are already laying in their sleeping bags and all set up. I gather some water and squeeze in with some hikers I've been leap frogging with for a while now, ground sheet down and sleeping pad blown up. My shiny new jetboil twinkles at me and I'm excited to use it. I attach the fuel, pour in some water and press the button, where it pops into life. My spam and ramen are done in record time. I eat like a fiend in the growing darkness. Twisted shows up while I eat and he hammocks near me.
I'm pleasantly exhausted. The exhaustion that comes with a day well hiked. Turbines around me whirl and whirl and frogs that live in the trough croak into the night.