339.8 – 369.3
“i don’t wanna wake up early tomorrow,” pepa murmured as he fell asleep last night, & we don’t. when i wake up to pee at 6 the sun is coming up & patchwork & sticks are passing above us. “i didn’t wake up at 4:30 after all,” laughs patchwork. “neither did we,” i say & gesture to our still completely intact camp.
we stand around our little patch of cliff & i eat my banana & pepa eats his leftover sandwich. today we ascend blue ridge 7000 feet over just under 15 endless miles. at the top there’s the promise of a spring, our first water since the mcdonald’s soda fountain seven miles back. we’re not looking forward to the climb but there’s nothing to do but to do it so we stuff our hipbelt pockets full of snacks & take stock of our water. i have just over three liters left, pepa has almost four. we should be fine, especially since the air should cool as we climb.
the morning miles are monotonous & pepa’s nursing a few small injuries & everything feels like it’s taking a thousand years. we pass patchwork after a while, her knee’s not feeling too good so we decide to hike with her & be sure she makes it okay. patchwork is awesome & also it’s a great excuse to be extra chill today. sticks comes across us during one of our million breaks, his stomach’s been bothering him so he’s taking it slow, too. pepa listens to music on my phone & i try to keep morale high. in general, i hate uphills, but today i feel pretty good & the slow pace is irritating because at the other end of today is town! and pizza! and showers!
we gather around a precarious picnic table (!!) at the last high point of the day for our lunch break & swap snacks. sticks pulls out ziplocs of crushed cookies & goldfish, i distribute sweaty babybels & fruit snax, pepa has cheezits, patchwork has a bag of trail mix that she’s been adding to & augmenting since she started. only four miles till town so might as well lighten up our food bags! i inventory my water, i’m down to about six ounces in my last bottle. WOW.
sticks & i scramble down what my app describes as “a short steep sidetrail” & in reality is HELL. our water source, the spring at the bottom, turns out to be a halfhearted trickle into a dirty basin. lungs exploding, i lug seven liters up the cliff for patchwork & pepa & i to share.
we fly down the hill, “pizza,” i murmur to myself, “pizza pizza pizza.” a hitch from the road doesn’t materialize easily but soon we are huddled around a table at the mile high pizza joint in wrightwood & the proprietor is bringing us hot towels to wash our faces & hands & there’s pizza & mozzarella sticks & cold soda & it’s one of the local’s birthdays & we’re given big warm sloppy slices of carrot cake dripping in cream cheese frosting. the swiss couple sitting next to us is fascinated by it all, “it’s interesting to not just be on a tour of the wilderness of the west but also the small towns.” i agree, my stomach & heart both bursting.
we’re sharing a room with rob & bailey but before i get comfortable i bundle into my down jacket in an attempt to look slightly less filthy & stroll to the grocery store a couple of blocks away. i feel lighter than air without my pack & i luxuriate in selecting tiny packets of face mask, coconut water for pepa, fruit & yogurt for the morning, ice cream for rob & bailey. “oh yeah,” i murmur to everyone before falling asleep, sprawled on a mountain of pillows, “i snore.”