Warner Springs Community Center (109.5) – Mile 122.7

13.2 miles

The morning was leisurely. When I could no longer ignore the sounds of the other hikers packing up, I started to stir. This was around 6:30. I sat in my tent for awhile, cold, not wanting to emerge from my warm little cocoon of a sleeping bag- always the hardest part of the day. 

Eventually, I got out of my tent, and wondered around the grounds looking for an outside outlet, looking for a sunny place to hang my still-damp clothes. I putzed around my tent, laying out my food for the day, arranging and rearranging various ditty bags. 

The community center opened a little early, so Wang and I went and sat in the warmth, talking to others and figuring out our day. I had some coffee. Oh, coffee! 

Once all my electronics were charged to 100%, I knew it was time to scoot. It took me forever to pack up, as I kept getting distracted by little projects and talking to other hikers. I’m glad I was moving slowly, though, because just as I was scanning the ground to make sure I had not left anything behind, Eddie walked up. I squealed, I was so happy to see him! He and Lorian, Rosco, Mia, Brett, and Free Spirit had just hiked in! We chatted for a few minutes about the past couple of days and the crazy winds, and then I said so long to Eddie and went to say the same to the rest, telling them I hoped to see them up the trail soon. Sadly, I missed Gary, who had taken the trail detour down to the post office. I hope they catch up in Idyllwild. 

Wang had already hiked out and I now followed, excited to get back on trail. On my way out, I called a friend and chatted about the trail and about life and about transitions. We made plans for him to come hike part of Washington with me, which I hope really works out. 

Then… I hiked 13 miles. Not much to report there. I was alone all day. I stopped at a creek to filter water. I stopped a couple of times when I thought I might have reception. We gained in elevation all day, so I did a lot of chanting. I thought about things I am grateful for. I thought about a lot of things, though I couldn’t tell you what, exactly. I listened to music.

About 10 miles in, I stopped in a sunny spot to dry out my gear, wet from last night’s condensation, and my feet, wet from accidentally stepping in the creek…twice. Since I was there, I thought I’d go ahead and make dinner. While my water was heating, I looked up and saw a little gray cloud floating in. Then I looked around and saw he had a few friends coming to join him. Hmm. 

Once my food was done, I packed up pretty quickly and set off. I think I had about 2.8 miles to go and I don’t think I’ve ever covered ground so quickly. I never saw lightning or heard thunder, though I could see it raining a couple of peaks over and I wanted to secure myself a camp spot before the rain made it over to me. 

And I did. Here I am, snug in my tent. It’s cold! Again! How can it be so hot during the day and so cold at night?! It’s not even night, really! Only 7:15! 

I know this is already a long post, but stick with me for a moment, if you will, please. I thought a lot today about how my life used to be, how I used to be. I used to feel so at the mercy of life, like I was in the middle of the ocean clinging to a tiny raft, always on the verge of drowning. Seven or eight years ago, I never would have believed it possible that I would be able to do something like this. I was too afraid, always- of doing something and of never doing anything at all. Then one night, lying in bed wishing I could just dissolve into the mattress, I thought, “I can’t go on like this anymore. I have to decide either to live or to die, but I can’t keep straddling the line.” I decided that since I’d never really given myself a chance at living, I’d try that and if it didn’t work out I could always die later. I know that’s all really dark, but it’s just the truth of what was going on with me then. 

That was the moment I remember when everything started to shift. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a long, long time. But slowly, books, movies, podcasts, radio shows, conversations, opportunities to pursue dormant interests began finding there way to me in digestible ways. And I began to change my outlook. 

Yadda, yadda, yadda, and here I am, married to the love of my life, doing fulfilling work, and hiking 2,658 miles through some of the most of magnificent landscapes in the world.  
One of my goals for this adventure was to allow myself to be joyfully exuberant, full throttle- bouncing off the walls excited about life. I think today I realized that I am joyfully exuberant already. I just have to stop making so many judgements about what that should look like and just allow my myself to be as I am. 

Today I met: 

– Pineapple Express, another married-hiking-solo badass woman. 

– Tailgater, a nurse from OR, section hiking with the 30 days vacation she has saved up.

Today I learned:

– I should sleep with my phone and external battery in my sleeping bag with me if I want either to hold a charge. 

– I’m so good at hiking uphill!

Today’s hike was powered by Umphrey’s gnikcuF McGee STL 12/29/11, the promise of mac & cheese at the end of the day, and the threat of rain.