Mile 624 to mile 651.5
I wake at 5:30 feeling amazing- that’s two nights, now, that I’ve slept without alarms, that I’ve been able to get a full night’s sleep. I think I’m learning something about myself- I can do long miles, I can hike in the heat and the wind and the cold, I can walk on blisters, without enough water, with awful chafe- but sleep deprivation, no bueno. Not enough sleep turns me into an exhausted, anxious mess. Not enough sleep = no fun hiking. But eight hours sleep = HIKING IS AMAZING!!!
Twinkle and I have a slow morning and while we’re packing up Mack walks by, then NotaChance, then Sheriff and Coffee and Tiny and Big Sauce. Sherpa and The Boss are just ahead- so the gang’s all together, and we’re all headed to Walker Pass- at this rate we’ll all roll into Kennedy Meadows together in two days in a big gang. “The Fast Kids From Kickoff Reach The Sierras.”
Two more days.
The desert is almost over.
Everyone’s racing to Walker Pass today because we’re all out of food- we don’t know, apparently, how to pack enough food to five days- so far there have been trail angels, restaurants, convenience stores, and we haven’t had to. This is practice for the sierras, five day sections between resupplies, and so far we are all failing.
At Walker Pass we can hitch 35 miles into Lake Isabella, where there’s a big grocery store. I walk fast but I also take breaks, hide from the heat and the wind, eat snacks. I reach Walker Pass at 6:20, just after almost everyone else has already caught a ride into town. Twinkle is with me at the campground, though, and Tiny, Big Sauce, and Traveler. And then Guthrie shows up- he was behind us but now he’s caught up! The sky is curdling and a cold wind is blowing, slashing everyone’s tents. We sit at the picnic table fixing our small dinners and someone gives me a tuna packet, someone else offloads a big bag of oats. Traveler gives me half a bag of lucky charms and suddenly I no longer need to go into town for food- which is good, because there’s no way I could’ve gotten a hitch back to the trailhead before dark, and I’m past my budget for town food and hotel rooms.
Traveler has no shelter but Twinkle pitches his huge, homemade tarp low and there’s room for all three of us, side by side like sardines. We crawl under there just after dark, after we’ve grown tired of laughing around the picnic table and eating the dregs of things from our food bags. I rebandage my toe- it looks pretty good, more pink than red. I think the darn thing is starting to heal. The wind picks up, and then dies down. What sort of weather is this, coming over the mountains? Does the desert have one last trick up its sleeve? I guess we’ll find out.
Photos on instagram.