Day 17: School of Hard Knocks

Today was a doozy. Due to my miscalculations (by ten miles!!) and our heavily slowed pace yesterday, we had 22 miles ahead of us this morning.

We spent the morning in a surprise upward trajectory (the elevation profile looked quite downwardly to our recollection), chatting a bit with Rainbow Dash who caught us early on. We were a touch cranky, still smarting from the fact that we had only gone eight PCT miles, despite walking from nine am to seven pm yesterday.

We cheered up a bit with breakfast burritos (leftovers from dinner) and a trail iced latte (Trader Joe’s instant coffee with cream and sugar in mountain chilled water, shaken, not stirred). 

 And then we went down and down. We started in the crisp mountains, the evergreens filled with pine cones and dappling the sunlight as it fell. We kept chugging away until we reached the scrubbiness of this mountain’s desert foundation. Hummingbirds played tag around us all through lunch, buzzing and chirping near our heads as if we were part of the typical surroundings (maybe now we are, dirty footed and dust smeared).

We tripped away the afternoon playing our version of 20 questions mixed with Maggie Lang’s Benedict Arnold. Whatever it was, we had quite a time of it guessing Queen Victoria’s mourning gown, the Pope, and on and on, hour after hour.

The trail gave up being a trail and the dirt became temperamental baby powder, self imploding with each step. Or bushes with a tiny, bird sized opening. 

 Then it was five pm and we had been walking for ten hours and we had eleven more miles left. And we got quiet and separately felt sorry for ourselves, me for the five liters of water still being carried, Ant for an unimaginable pain.

But we keep marching on and on, wondering where the next few hours will leave us and whether the promised rice and beans and veggies and sriracha will heal all.