Day 24: 347.1 – 364.3 = 17.2

Day 25: 364.3 – 369.3 = 5

Day 26: 0 miles

It’s been a rough few days. Not bad, exactly, but I’ve been feeling like something isn’t right and I haven’t been sure what that is. 
The day after McDonald’s, we had a long, exposed, very hot all day climb. It was whole-body exhausting. After hiking about 15 miles, we decided to attempt to summit Mt. Baldy. I only made it about 1/8 of a mile in before I turned back. The others made it just shy of a mile. The trail was not very well defined and was just scree going straight up the side of the mountain. I lost one of my water bottles when I dropped my trekking pole and reached for it. The bottle jumped out of its pocket and tumbled down down down down. Sorry for littering, but there was no way I could have retrieved it. Not in the state I was in. 
That night, we cowboy camped at Guffy Campground and we all froze all night. I cried and cried in my sleeping bag, just completely depleted from the day and feeling very out of place. 
The next morning, I woke up just before dawn and headed the last five miles to the highway, then walked down the highway until I got a hitch. Actually, Wang and GB got a hitch and sent the guy (thanks, Tom!) back to get me. We had breakfast, ran errands and then checked into our cute little cabin. 
 That night we went out and heard the most amazing Blues band. I wondered if we had somehow entered a portal into Memphis. The band leader seemed like he had been leading bands for about 100 years- BB King eat your heart out. The keyboard had an amazing voice. Maybe he was a long-lost Neville. There was a tall sax player who was probably 60-something, but you could tell that in his prime he had been dripping sex. There was a young, young brilliant harmonica player with an entire big box of harmonicas. The lead guitarist was just leaned up against the wall all nonchalant, blowing our minds. Then there was the cutest, tiniest bassist, wailing on a bass guitar as big as he was. It was magic. Live music does a soul good. 
The next day, it was time to go. I woke up feeling so tired and not at all ready to get back on trail. I walked the three blocks to town for breakfast and had a couple of strange interactions that felt confusing and upsetting in a way I couldn’t shake. I was just so tired and not communicating well. I found Mama Sita (met her my second day on the climb out of Lake Morena), and we had a long talk exchanging stories. I felt a bit better. 
Back to the cabin with me to pack up, five days of food and four liters of water. With a heavy pack and a heavy mind, I said “see ya up trail” to Wang and GB, expecting to see them that night, and walked to the library to post the blog. At the library, I spent almost two hours posting five days worth of posts to the wrong blog. It was getting late. I should have already been on trail. I panicked. 
The rest of the day was me wandering down to the highway and completely failing at getting a hitch. No one would pick me up! So, I walked back to town, saw some people I know, got the town trail angel list from them, called everyone on the list with no luck. I ended up, around 7:00 getting a ride from a very nice couple up to Camp Wrightwood. I was so relieved when they picked me up that I started crying in their car! So much crying!!! Once at camp, I found several people I know, which was very comforting. I think it was good that I stayed in town. One more night indoors. One more day of rest for my body. 
At camp, I talked to some other hikers around my age. Kind of a rarity. The largest demographic is the 20-somethings. The 30-somethings, not so much. These two people I talked to are also hiking alone. One of them was also trying to keep up with a group for awhile and struggling. Both have also had some emotional releases. 
I think part of what I have been struggling with is the group dynamic. I love the group I’ve been hiking with. They are wonderful people and we have a great dynamic, but I have felt dissatisfied. I have felt too dependent on the group, and too vulnerable because of this. I came out here to prove something to myself, honestly, to find some inner strength and independence that I have been missing. I came out here to learn confidence and self-sufficiency. But I have found myself, too much for my liking, wanting to attach myself to a group and rely too much on other’s rhythms and ideas. I suppose it is time to break free. At least for the next couple of days, I will hike alone, on my own, deciding for myself. Where will I go today? When will I break?
Time to regroup. Time for something new.