318 – 335
we sleep in a little but we’re still the first ones moving. i fill up on water from the shallow creek which we slept beside while pepa chats up the section hikers who we met last night. we’re beginning to settle into a division of labor where i set up the shelter in the evening & pepa breaks it down in the morning but today i don’t mind taking it down. after all it’s just a matter of pulling out the six stakes, readjusting the trekking pole that serves as support beam & rolling up the fabric.
we hike through more burn area today. i remember thinking how eerily beautiful they were at first but i’m over it & it’s hot & exposed SO early in the day. i crave shade & while pepa is taking a break to dig a cat hole i sink gratefully under a waist-high patch of chaparral. “in my year i got trail magic just after that road,” says pepa, pointing to the highway below us & i think about all of the things that i would like to find on the side of the road right now. grapes, orange juice, caprisun… when there actually is a cooler it feels to good to be true & i hesitate before opening it… what if it’s empty? but there is a bunch of bananas & water & a trail log. we share a bottle of the good cold water & jettison our trash (pepa has been carrying a piece of metal grating that he found on trail since yesterday 😳).
we’re less than a mile from silverwood lake but the trail follows the perimeter for about four miles before our planned lunch spot at a picnic area. the day is heating up quickly & i’m hungry & irritated by the sounds of jetskis & happy humans below. “how far are we?” asks pepa, & i glance at my phone. my heart sinks. we’ve overshot the side trail to the shaded picnic area (bathrooms! running water! picnic tables!) by .3 miles which right now is far enough to push me to the verge of frustrated tears. we backtrack to a jeep road & cut down to where the picnickers won’t stop talking about ice cream, what flavors they’re going to have & across the pavilion a vietnamese family assembles a stack of gorgeous banh mi. i fill my bottles from the cold spigot & devour my banana, dreaming of the sandwich i’m going to order when we get to the subway in cajon pass. pepa cooks spaghetti & i sift through my food bag grumpily eating bites of things.
“my feet look like beef jerky,” i mention, wiggling my peeling, variegated toes at him. & they really do. the bottom of my left foot is host to a dried out blister the size of a ketchup packet & has since been packed with silt & dirt. my two pinky toes have been stripped of most of their original skin leaving them pink & raw in some places & yellowed & peeling in others. there is a cracked canyon between my right big & second toes where the top layer of skin is receding steadily away from the gulf. it’s cool though because they really don’t hurt at all! they actually feel pretty invincible! in contrast to the first couple hundred miles of footsore wincing they feel incredible.
we’re dreading the uphill out of this oasis & we delay it as long as possible. i wash my second pair of socks in the bathroom sink & give myself a bandana bath. we joke with another couple, allison & gia, about shacking up in their two person tent & we ALMOST succumb to peer pressure to camp here at the lake. but the mcdonald’s at cajon pass is only 14 miles away & we don’t wanna have to hike that far in the morning, so… we’d agreed on an hour long lunch break & nearly two hours after arriving we finally peel ourselves away. the climb does suck our energy but it’s fine, we entertain ourselves by complaining about all of our small maladies & by searching for pepa’s campsite from 2014. all he can really remember is that it was in a little indentation in the trail & that it was great.
pepa perches on a rock & cooks his spaghetti dinner using the trail as his table. i sit crosslegged opposite & try to enjoy a protein bar dipped in peanut butter. “where is everyone?” we ask eachother, & just then rob & bailey come hurtling around the corner, almost don’t see us. “we’re doing 27 miles & getting milkshakes,” they laugh & keep flying down trail.
we put ourselves to bed quickly so that we can follow their lead in the morning. “what was that sound?” asks pepa. i don’t know, i didn’t hear anything. nonetheless, he falls asleep quickly & i lay paralyzed by the creaking forest & it’s breaking sticks & swishing leaves.