454.4 – 478.2
morning is coming earlier & earlier. we begin to stir while the sky oscillates through all the pale shades of pink & tangerine. today we hike again & we wander around making last minute readjustments to our food bags & gear organization. my pack is heavy, i feel like i’m carrying too much food again but it’s so hard to know. i’m emotionally prepared to eat my normal trail breakfast of a clif bar but pepa is not & it’s not hard to convince me to stop at the diner for breakfast on our way out of town. apparently everyone from hiker heaven had the same idea & the patio teams with hikers. patchwork is heading back to poland for a few days & we’re sad to say farewell but i’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing her again one of these days.
we leave the diner late in the morning, 9:30, & we hike along the road for a couple of miles with sierra. she’s 21 & has already spent three summers hiking in the sierra. we swap solo hiking stories & gear chatter & plans for the day, this section, the upcoming sierra. 24 trail miles from hiker heaven is casa de luna, the home of trail angels terri & joe anderson & a place affectionately referred to as hippie daycare. apparently they serve a massive taco salad buffet every night & pancakes & hot coffee in the mornings. some are pushing to get there tonight but we’re moving slow & our late start means that we’ll be hiking in the heat of the day. we pause our conversation on the climb back into the hills & leapfrog all morning until the little spring where everyone seems to have decided to take lunch. i eat some of those strange cheesy sandwich crackers but they taste like nothing so i spread some peanut butter on them & they’re a little better. pepa pokes at the gps app for a while- there’s a listed campsite twenty miles in which feels reasonable. we’d only have to hike four miles to get to casa de luna tomorrow & then we could take the whole rest of the day off!
there’s a miserable uphill to a chorus of buzzing powerlines. i slump upwards, eyes downcast watching lines of tiny red ants carry shards of purple flowers across the trail & then it’s a long curving downhill to a road crossing where butcher is sprawled on his new sleeping pad with a gallon sized ziploc of snacks at his elbow & his phone in his hand. “so,” he says, “if you follow the trail it is six more miles to taco salad plus a hitch. or, we could road walk… looks a little shorter & i figure we’re still walking to canada.” it’s 4:45 & taco salad is at 7 & suddenly there’s no question of whether we’re gonna try to get there or not. butcher’s waiting for young gun & boots but we’re suddenly galvanized. “we’re having taco salad tonight!” i shout at pepa as we follow the dirt road & then spunky canyon road down into green valley. there’s no chance of a hitch, the road feels deserted but i don’t mind. at casa de luna we find a quiet little grove in the magical manzanita forest out back for our tent & we each eat two plates of taco salad & we see our friends & my heart is happy.