There was something in the curve of the trail around jagged rock walls, leagues of sky opening up beneath my feet, that reminded me of Southern California. There was something in the siesta I took, napping and reading in the hottest part of the day, that brought to mind the flavor of my first day on trail. There was something in the insatiable thirst that recalled that long day spent with Rainbow Dash on the aqueduct.
Today felt like the beginning again. I was new today — spending an hour reading instead of jumping up and walking. I took another hour to nap, another long break to read again. And I still managed to crank out 10.6 hours of hiking (not including breaks). So what is my excuse now for not giving my feet a rest?
And my feet! They felt like normal feet. They were sweaty and a little blistery, but the horrid burning pain I have been plagued with did not appear. I have been telling them they are warriors and thanking them for the last 48 hours, so perhaps they simply wanted a little recognition.
It was a beautiful day. The hot smog wafted in from the scores of people on the coast and made all of the mountains around me hazy and magnificent. The sky seemed to ripple into them, a mist hanging on the sea of peaks bursting through the landscape. Mount Shasta, now just thirty-some miles away, was nearly obscured from view by the stuff. It looked like a dream.
When I woke from my nap I noticed a white and red blister, angry and hurting, on my toe. I burst it and a thin stream of yellowish liquid came out, falling onto my tyvek ground sheet. A huge ant scrambled up, lapping up the ooze. I watched the ant for a long time, it’s antennas flopped to the sides in pleasure. Gross.
I saw a million people today and we all sat together right on the trail around a water source, tired from the oppressive heat and the thought of an 8,000 foot day tomorrow (what does that even mean? What is elevation, man?).
As I climbed into the night, watching the sky transform into a sheet of black, dropping slowly over my world, I saw my thighs. They were scrawny. They once were my prize joy, the thick muscles all twisting one on top of another. Now they feel deflated and hollow, as if my very bones could snap under the weight of my pack and upward momentum.
I eat and eat. I hope it is enough.