Mile 317.4 to mile 342
Here’s what we do: bedrolls by eight, asleep by 9. Wake up at five a.m., the coldest hour right before dawn, everyone’s watch alarms bleeping wildly in the dark. Water, handfuls of breakfast, walking before I’m really ready. The sun comes up and it’s hot. I lose steam, fall behind. I sit on a rock and take selfies. Here’s how it goes- NotaChance way ahead, she’s the fastest. On the whole trail? Probably. Our Lady of the Seven Pound Base Weight. She’s five, ten, fifteen miles ahead. The boys in the middle, in a pack. And me, dicking the fuck around, bringing up the rear. Loitering, looking at things, sitting awkwardly in the dirt in chunks of shade. I like it back here, where there’s no pressure. H-ing my own H.
I hike over the backs of dragons all day, feeling wilted from the heat, listening to the Game of Thrones audio book. I like that series- they are always suffering more than I am, are always more weary, have always been on horseback longer. It makes me feel better. At 4:30 I reach that rend in the fabric of space-time that is the massive freeway at Cajon Pass and turn right to walk the .4 road miles to the McDonalds, an official water source. Everyone is there, doubled over with mcnugget consumption, and the intergalactic space station of cheeseburgers is also stuffed with “regular” people, from their respective realities, clothes bright and hair carefully ironed. I drop my pack with the others. I look and smell like a homeless person but nobody stares. I feel extremely comfortable. I order and quickly consume four double cheeseburgers, a large fry, and several liters of lemonade. 2 thousand calories- a thousand less than last year. But who’s counting.
Afterwards we book a palatial room at the best western across the street and stuff it with hikers- eight of us in total. In an hour the hunger returns and everyone heads to the Del Taco. I lay in bed, feeling bleary. Tomorrow a 15 mile climb up to 8500 feel, 27 miles total to Wrightwood. It’ll be a long day. Everything is flying by. I listen to the freeway sounds out the window, the chatter of the hikers. Today, while walking on a narrow ribbon of hot sand way above everything, I asked myself why I was doing this. Why I was hiking the trail a second time. And the answer is I don’t know. But I imagine, by the end, that I will.
Photos on instagram.