Mile 115 to mile 131
I woke in the cold morning next to Agua Caliente and filled my gatorade bottles in the stream. I hadn’t slept well for reasons I didn’t understand and I hiked slowly into the beautiful mountains. The heat came on; we’d heard the day before that there would be a heat wave.
I felt tired, delerious, clumsy; I rolled my ankles lightly; I’d told myself that I wouldn’t take a break until I had hiked twelve miles but the sun came on and I became slower and slower; at last I collapsed in the prickly shade of a large rock and drank water and retaped my blisters. I looked at my watch- I’d been walking so slowly that I may as well have just rested.
“Why am I so tired today?” I wondered. “Why is every day so different?”
Eventually there was a brightly painted sign stuck in some rocks.
Trail angel mike! Said the sign. Water shade shelter!
I stumbled down the dusty side trail and came to a huge steel water tank painted H2O in dripping letters. Beyond that was a house. At the house dirty hikers were lounging tensely in the shade, picking at their feet. Two leathery men were playing ultimate frisbee in the dirt yard. There was a large carton of warm potato salad and I scooped a mound onto a styrofoam plate and ate it sitting at a wicker picnic table.
The back of the house was shady and quiet and we convened there, setting up our little stoves to cook dinner. Thyra and Angela ate and fell asleep in the porch swing. I lit an esbit tab to boil water for my instant refried beans and the awful plastic smell filled the air.
“If you light it in your tent you’ll start to hurl,” said a man named Stats, who was organizing his pack next to us on the patio.
We left at 5:30 to hike the rest of the way to Nance Canyon to camp. Ben had eaten two packets of ramen and a coca cola at mike’s and was in pain; otherwise we were feeling pretty good. The campsite in Nance Canyon was a sandy spot next to an old stream bed and it was freezing there- the cold air sank down and settled there. The next day we would hike 18 miles and camp outside of Paradise Valley Cafe; I had never eaten there but I fell asleep imagining the burgers, and watching the stars, and thinking about life.