May 30, Day 26
17.6 miles [478.2]
It was wonderfully cloudy this morning, I still don’t have any idea what to expect in the desert. Enjoyed the misty hike into Green Valley with only one minor knee flare up, then immediately beelined for Heart and Soul Cafe where I devoured a club sandwich and iced Americano. Strolled into Casa de Luna and was immediately won over by the atmosphere. While I was donning my obligatory Hawaiian shirt, “Smokey”, a hiker who looked like he’d been vortexed a few days, introduced himself along with the house rules while simultaneously handing me a freshly packed pipe. I obliged and didn’t bother asking him how he got his name. I found Terrie and made sure to give her a hug—the first of 10 rules. Played some frolf with Adam in the manzanita forest while drinking beer from the gas station. I agreed to stir the nacho cheese to help with dinner prep. Also in the kitchen stirring beans was “Metric Ton”, a curious fellow whose name is derived from his base weight. But the biggest surprise of the day was discovering “Mio” is spending the night! Hippie Daycare exceeded all expectations.
May 31, Day 27
25.9 miles [502.1]
Slept decently well at Casa de Luna. As promised, Joe made pancakes for all of us hungry hikers. I was slightly hungover and nursed some coffee. Last night's discussions and gossip about other hikers and the Sierra quickly resumed. Everyone gathered and we danced for Terrie in order to earn our PCT Class bandanas. During my “performance”, I sultrily unzipped my puffy and flung it from my body. Somehow it found the one nail on the garage door and hung itself absolutely perfectly. The crowd burst into raucous laughter. Just before heading out Terrie orchestrated a group photo, one which we'll all remember forever—photo or not. On trail we caught back up with “Mio” who's hiking with his buddy from the military. Just as dusk settled in Adam and I crossed the 500 mile marker. I would have felt more accomplished but something's clearly bothering him and I can't tell what. We talked poorly a few times. Found myself getting irrationally angry. What have I done?
June 1, Day 28
27.2 miles [529.3]
The wind was so strong we took down our tent only 13 minutes after turning out the lights. It was a rough night of sleep. Fifteen miles of this morning’s descent weren’t any less gusty. Thought Adam was ahead of me and played catch-up for two hours, only to make it to Highway 138, completely alone, engulfed in a shadeless desert I had absolutely no desire to be in. It was 95 degrees. It’s June. I’m not even one-fifth done. I let out a heavy sob, one which I had been holding since May. Fuck this desert. Twenty minutes later, he showed up. I felt stupid. We took a long rest in Hiker Town, a poop in a real toilet got rid of a few demons. After trying to get a quick doze in, “Horny Toad” drove the communal Chevy Astro to Neenach Cafe. Somehow this place served hand-formed fresh burgers. I washed one down with a Manzanita Sol and a cherry Coke. Per usual, I didn’t have a plan for the upcoming terrain. Apparently this is the hottest, hardest section. Adam suggested we leave at 6 p.m.to take advantage of the night. Lot of other hikers seemed to be doing the same. We managed just shy of 12 more miles, stopping only for a positively stunning cloudless sunset and tuna taco dinner. We set up camp at 11 p.m., I’m utterly spent, I just feel annihilated.
June 2, Day 29
28.7 miles [558.0]
Woke well before dawn, hell, it was still night. Sunrise came quickly, illuminating thousands and thousands of turbines, all whirring and humming away. When it wasn’t being whipped around, my umbrella blocked most of the views. Mazama Wind farm was lonely, nothing but winding, scrubby hills filled with ghostly pinwheels. After 20 brutal miles, the desert gave us some respite—Mile 549 Bar and Grill—trail magic. I guzzled a blue Squeezit, straight from my childhood, hoping it would somehow transport me back. “Hard Time” seemed to be enjoying himself, every time I passed him he was Snapchatting. Ripped off the band-aid and left. Another eight miles made today our longest yet. Adam was melancholy and despondent the whole time. “I can’t keep doing this”, he told me at dinner, “I can’t be responsible for anyone.” I didn’t know how to respond. Am I burdensome? I don’t want to do this by myself; I want someone to share it with. What a gross thought. The turbines seem even louder at night, buzzing like low-pitched mosquitoes. The desert was so hard today.
June 3, Day 30
12.8 miles [570.8]
Woke from my bad dream not feeling any better. An overwhelming feeling of “useless, goalless, aimless” filled my entire being. It would have been easy to sit and wallow, but I tied my shoes tight and tried to pull it together. Made it through eight more miles of wind farm before reaching the highway, thankfully it was all downhill. Got a hitch and after relocating from a BBQ joint, found ourselves at a trusty McDonald's. One large iced coffee and impassioned internet search later, I purchased my own tent. Well, Adam did, now we’re square on that camera debt. Did a resupply at Albertsons and Dollar Store as well as coin-op laundry. Even found time to crush a Hot-N-Ready. Ran amok, we probably did five miles in town. Found an angel, Jeff, offering rides back to the trail. He’s only been doing it for three weeks but already helped out nearly 200 hikers. Hard slog up and away from the highway in some of the strongest wind I’ve ever experienced. Hunted a few miles for a shielded place to cowboy—hopefully this little bush helps.