Mile 266 to mile 292.5
My god, what a difference fresh legs make.
We wake at 5:45 to be in time for the 6:30 shuttle, various alarms going off in the dark hotel room. We shuffle around, eating oranges and microwaved leftovers, assembling our worldy possesions into dusty backpacks. We pile into Rock Ocean’s vanagon. It’s cold outside.
The trail is easy today, gentle downhill through cool pine forest, and we’re fast. I feel great today- my legs are strong, my feet are sure and nothing hurts, not one single thing. The miles fly by and by 2 p.m. we’ve gone twenty miles. We sit at a picnic table by a horse pen where I camped last year, and I am overcome with nostalgia- this is the first place where I met Spark, Track Meat and Sagittar last year. There were a whole bunch of us, huddled around this picnic table in the dark, cooking dinner on our little alcohol stoves. I tried to put my stove out with my hanky, hoping to impress everyone, and I set my hanky on fire instead.
Now I eat MnMs on almond butter on gluten free oreos until I have a tummy ache. More hikers show up and we are all laughing, passing around a bag of gummy bears. Someone puts a brick-sized rock in NotaChance’s pack, but she finds it.
Six easy miles later and we’re in camp, a sandy flat spot in an oak forest next to a clear stream that runs over mossy stones. It’s the most beautiful spot we’ve camped yet. We spread out our bedrolls and more hikers show up and soon it’s like we’re playing sardines- nine of us in a row on the soft sand, the smell of cooking macaroni wafting over everything. The birds make noises like they do and the sun sinks over the hills. McButter makes a joke about having a base weight of five ounces-
“A one ounce tent, and three lighters,” he says. “One doubles as a rain jacket. If it’s raining, I just set myself on fire. If I need a ground sheet, I just set the ground on fire.”
And then I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe.
This is the way it should be.
Photos on instagram.