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when i begin to stir, i shake frost droplets from the tightly stretched tarp above me. everything is drippingly wet with condensation… i am slowly learning that grassy fields are the least practical places to set up camp. oh, well, i think, grateful that today i don’t have to pack everything away for an early start. in fact, today i am not starting at all. i am taking the day off to pick up my microspikes & ice axe, to gather supplies for the next stretch & to meet up with brian & penelope in idyllwild. i luxuriate in the lightening morning for a while before laying my things out in the already hot sun to dry. the others are beginning to do the same & the freeway-side field looks like a bizarre & unorganized flea market.
we drink weak but delicious coffee on the patio at the diner & strategize for this next stretch. i still have not made up my mind about the mountain fire alternate. i don’t want to skip it but i also don’t want to do it alone & i’m having trouble finding anyone else who’s game to start tomorrow. we lay out our paper maps, our hand-drawn diagrams, our phone apps, & our data sheets & by the end of breakfast i just feel more confused than ever. the next 39 miles are inarguably confusing with plenty of warnings to watch for specific unmarked junctions & monitor mileages. “i just want to get to mile 190 so we can cruise into canada,” i laugh.
meg & pinecone & pheobe & i hitch a ride into idyllwild with janice, gary the horserider’s wife. she is gracious & funny & indulges all of our questions about logistics & reality for their trip. most importantly, she has an amazing dog named rose who climbs into our laps & gives us kisses the entire 17 mile drive.
i had asked annabeth to mail me my microspikes & ice axe for the upcoming treacherous fuller ridge so, trepidation building from my last post office experience knotting my stomach, i walk down to the post office. i hand over my id & wait, trying to be calm. when the postal worker comes back empty handed i can only laugh sadly. “you might try coming back in the afternoon,” he says doubtfully.
i try calling annabeth but she must be at work so i wander around the grocery store listlessly for awhile, taking mental stock of what i’ll have to buy for the next hundred mile stretch of trail. i buy an ice cream sandwich & a vegetable juice smoothie & alternate nibbles & sips on the curb in the shopping center. frustrated & lost i pace the loop of town. it’s small enough that i run into several hikers & by the time i circle back to where the australian girls are staying i feel calm. meg offers me a shower & the hot water feels so good that i almost cry.
annabeth calls me back & is able to help me find my package & it’s full of snacks & books & a new diva cup to replace the one i’d forgot & my microspikes & ice axe. i’m so relieved that i slump over on the porch of the inn where i’d found it & close my eyes for a moment & i’m there still when penelope calls to tell me that she & brian have arrived in idyllwild!
i’m so happy to see my old friends, to ask their advice on things, to tell them my stories. we wander around the little town for a while, we even get to meet mayor max, idyllwild’s dog mayor (!!!!) eventually we settle in at a little brewery where we sit close to a big stone fireplace & talk until it’s after dark & i’m yawning involuntarily.
after brian & penelope leave, i stay up for a while, researching routes & recent reports. i’m so tired, i feel so confused & conflicted about what to do next. this day off has only made everything feel more complicated, the unknowns building up in my imagination. i know that once i figure things out one way or another i will feel better.