Day 20: Up

I am coming to you from the near warmth of my sleeping bag and bivvy. We are close to a stream, in a valley, where cold air loves to pool. My bag, clocking in at 27 degrees for women, will hopefully do the trick tonight. As for now, my dirty, dry toes are frosty, each trying to grab warmth from the next. And it is only six thirty — I have hours of darkness to contend with.

Rainbow Dash and I climbed into the sky today, reaching up and up with our toes as we flew ever higher. It was about 70 degrees with a breeze that lightly lifted the sweat from our shirts — weather made to hike in. 

 We played leap frog with a stream all day, which forced the dry landscape to shoot up greenery all along its wiggle. The air turned wet and smelled of growing things and mud and little animals that live in the brush. I kept taking huge inhales, storing it for later on in the desert where the dryness makes me forget that there is anything green left in the world.

We stepped around Poodle Dog Wood, a plant that some say is so deadly that one brush will send you straight to the ER. The same someone told me to watch my trekking poles and clothes and backpack — the poison can cling to them all, to catch you at a later moment of weakness. I minded my poles and clothes and skin and pee rag (a hanky for just that business), and seem to be safe. 

 A mile later my eyes started watering and burning, and I stumbled along, fearful that the poodle had gotten me and they’d have to take my eyes.

“Aargh!” I exclaimed, dragging us to a halt. “My eyes!”

I wiped the sunscreen from them, and felt better immediately, my drama halted midstream.

We marched onward, setting my record for the hike thus far: 17 miles and 5,000 feet of up. It was all up, and I felt strong.

I miss Ant tonight, and our tent that has a real fly that zippers the world outside. I feel naked without my partner to share this with, but I feel that I am tough enough to do it myself (as Ant told me before I left). I miss our stove to cook hot food on, and warm nights to unzip my bag.

But then I look up at the trees that are my roof, and wiggle my toes that are getting ever warmer, and re-read the message Ant sent me on my fabulous Delorme device. This isn’t a place I’d miss for the world.