I woke at five am to a face full of fine grit. The tent fly was plastered to the tent, wind pushing into my flesh, only letting go for a satisfying “thwap” that pushed in another fistful of dirt.
I finally gave up the fight an hour and a half later, disgruntledly forcing Little Ant (Avry’s new trail name) out of bed and into mad packing mode. Plus, there was only an hour and a half before breakfast — eggs, sausage, and pancakes, and enough free coffee to fill up an army — and many scrawny young lads were already milling around the door, making sure they were in the running for first place.
The people at Warner Springs (population 200) have banded together to create a hiker haven — food, a small resupply store, showers, laundry, spotty wifi, and free camping (and coffee made just like it was for friends of Bill W!).
I was jangled and anxious the entire morning. There were bros and cool kids all around, loudly making friends and jingling my nervous system frightfully. I felt right back in the middle school cafeteria, wondering who would let me sit at their table. I wished frightfully I had a trail name, or hiking buddies, or had already done the Appalachian Trail (AT), or (better yet) had grown some ovaries and felt okay being me at that moment.
Then I sat down with Avry and met a new friendly face — Rainbow Dash, full of wisdom straight from the AT.
After a few restful, food full hours, we finally peeled ourselves away from the crowd, cheeseburgers, and ample shade, and headed down the trail. We sat down on it two minutes down the road for some pebble dumping and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Wide open spaces and the easy pace of my best friend — this is what feels good.
We giggled and tinkled and enjoyed hydration competitions (resulting in a self-shark mishap [sharking is when you or a friend spits water at you on hot days — delightful!!]) down the road. We took two long breaks over our five mile hike and met two lovely day hikers, so stoked about our trip that they got us all fired up ourselves (this is super cool, wow!).
We found a spot right by a creek with a friendly, talkative frog.
And peace comes quick to hikers with the sky as their fly.