436.1 – 454.4
neither of us sleeps for longer than a half hour at a time. i blearily stuff the space between the concrete walls & ground with my food bag, my pack, anything to keep the biting wind from creeping in. every time i stir i glance out at the night. is the sun coming? pepa normally sleeps warm, radiating, but tonight he shivers. we try to share heat but our quilts don’t have zippers, much less any way to attach to each other. when finally dawn begins to crawl over the hillsides i am still damp & so SO cold & hazy with sleepiness.
shivering, pepa somehow manages to convince me to get into my wet clothes from the day before. “if it weren’t for you,” i laugh, “i would just freeze here until a warm day came along.” today though we have a goal. just eight miles from here is the acton KOA. i’m not completely sure what it is but supposedly there is a store with ice cream! & ten miles after that is agua dulce, the little town where the arguably most hotly anticipated trail angels live: the saufleys & their hiker heaven. we’ll take a day off there, we agree. i wear my gloves all morning. it’s not raining but the air is still stingingly cold & my hands still haven’t recovered from yesterday. after a while, pepa’s newest blister is bothering him & i kneel down in the trail for a blister pedicure. his feet look how mine must look, too, just totally saturated & mushed by the wetness. “should we amputate?” asks butcher as he steps over us.
the KOA is an elaborate private campground complete with pool & plenty of space for RVs. i buy an ice cream samdwich & a bag of cheetos & pepa has snickers ice cream & microwaved frozen burritos. we devour our treats under a light mist on a bench in front of the shop & then wander over to where our friends are stationed underneath a peeling gazebo. i take my shoes off, maybe my socks will dry finally? i hope.
the trail this afternoon takes us through golden hills dotted with strange boulders. heaving clouds hang over us. will we be caught in a second storm? i hope not. our feet are crying for their day off but we pick our way down the hillsides as quickly as we can. as we enter the otherworldly vazquez rock formations just outside of town, a crack of thunder startles us. the dark skies contrast with the tilting rocks & i snap a few photos as we trot through & then along a road & then a kind man in a pickup truck drives us the last mile to hiker heaven.
i’m overwhelmed, there are so many people here that i don’t recognize… did we jump another bubble? but then we see butcher & young gun & boots. we set up our little shelter next to a chicken coop out back & catch another hitch to mexican food. drunk on cheese, we wander around the grocery store gathering snacks for the next day. i shower, wash my hair three times, & then sleep. the horses & chickens & hikers all make strange little animal noises & it’s peaceful & good.