day 16: today i could hike forever

04.25135.5 – 156.5

i wake up to a velvety sky full of stars & something pressing against my face. that’s not right, i think, & fumble with the netting that has fallen down around me. oh. the wind must have torn out some stakes & flipped the tarp over the top of where i’m laying. i stay immobile for a while longer, the night is so still aside from occasional gusts of wind. three choices i guess. i can either try to go back to sleep, i can fix it, or i can get up & start hiking. i get up to pee & realize that i’m bleeding. i sigh & decide to fix my tarp & go back to sleep for a while.

today the trail crosses mission creek twice more & then it’s a sixteen mile dry stretch through a fire scarred burn area. the first five miles are punishingly steep & climb back up to 8500 feet but after that the trail feels friendly & i make good time. a hummingbird hovers at eye level for a long moment, but otherwise i have very little company all morning. today i’d like to get as close to big bear lake as possible, probably 21 miles, so i challenge myself to see how many miles i can hike before i take my lunch break. an innovative but unsuccessful new water carry strategy means that my pack is uneven for much of the morning & i’m grateful at 12 to take it off with 13 miles behind me. 

today is cool & cloudy. i could hike forever like this, i think, & i keep feeling good until i round a bend & cross a dirt road & come to a sudden stop in front of a double chain link fence enclosing a series of thick metal cages. this must be the private zoo noted on my gps app & it is heinous. the bengal tiger & the snow leopard stare at me dully with hollow eyes & a brown bear paces his cage. he stands up on his hind legs but can’t straighten his back all of the way because of the low ceiling & he drops back onto all fours. “how is this legal?” fumes patchwork, i just shake my head. “i’m sorry,” i murmur to the animals & then i have to keep hiking because i’m going to cry. 

i catch up to sticks & we hike together for a couple of miles. “i thought there was some kinda summit around here,” he muses, but the terrain is gentle & we round a corner & there’s a dumpster labeled magic & a mysterious white sofa. we sink in with orange sodas & before long hamlet & swedish fish & patchwork & byline have all caught up & we have to take turns on the couch. 

camp is less than four miles away & i fly. i could keep going, i think, but camping with friends sounds lovely & i surrender. it’s cold already in the little clearing & i clamber into my shelter early. all night i shiver but the thought of sharing a tent with josef for the next month keeps me warm & i sleep. 


4 thoughts on “day 16: today i could hike forever”

  1. What a disgrace to hear about a “private zoo” is more like a excuse for animal abuse. Sorry that popped up on the trail….but on the other hand,good to see swedish fish make a blog appearance.


    1. Jim, my son got back on August from walking the Camino de Santiago! So beautiful! It took him about 37 or 38 days. Over 500 miles as they went on the “the edge of the world”. Quite the experience – he said the people in Spain were very kind and generous. He made a few good friends on the trail that he keeps in touch with. I say do it!


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