Day 23: Enchantment 

The mountains turned into fresh burn turned into desert turned into pine forest again today. It, building off the mood of yesterday, was enchanting.

We woke cold, and I hid in my sleeping bag until the sun started tickling me. I hung out my sleeping bag and bivvy and they dried quickly in the new sun. I ate three more halves of cold buttered toast, and the world opened up, sparkling with possibilities. 

 We were off late, but it didn’t matter. The woods were cool, and I followed Rainbow Dash’s fast feet easily. The leisurely previous days made it pleasurable to be stretching my limits — we had set out to do a 20+ day.

We tripped along soft dirt trail (dirt! I love it! I’ve missed it!) that wove through a multitude of evergreen (trees! I love them! I’ve missed them!). It was crisp, and my new tights (you might never hear the end of them) kept me warm and dashing along with Rainbow.

Then I remembered it was Mother’s Day, and found I had service! I called, and she answered, and we talked about my dad’s best trout fishing day ever (today), her hopes for the future of Beauty Water, and how disappointments are such a part of life — it is only a matter of how we deal with them. She was upstate, and it was 80 degrees, and I wished I was there to celebrate her day in person (it is still her day, even though it was made up by corporate America’s genius marketers). 

 As we were talking I turned a bend and there sat Big Bear Lake and the mountain. People were rushing around on boats in the middle of the giant lake, and there was still a dusting of snow on those slopes that Californians love so dearly. It was all so large and so far away I was struck still, from the frantic forward motion I had affected while speaking to my loved ones.

I passed Rainbow Dash there and, after chatting for a bit with Ant (doing all to heal as quickly as possible!), put on the tail end of Great Expectations.

To my surprise, I learned there were two endings to the story, and the obliging narrator read both. Next, still not having been overtaken by RD, I put on The Hobbit. 

 And there I was, racing from shade and sun through the cool woods, listening to Bilbo Baggins’ aversion to adventure:

“”We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr. Baggins.”

My smile grew the more he hurumphed about adventure, and my pace picked up as his Tookish side came out, and there I was nearly running along a mountain path that quickly turned to fresh burn. The mountains way out from us had a horrible bald spot, too flat and ugly to be natural (they were mountaintop landfills, strange monuments for all to see of our effect on the earth), and the mountains near me and all around were scorched — nearly everything burned, with a few hardy trees refusing to give up, strange stalks in a flattened and empty landscape. 

 It was four hours later when I finally rested for lunch, and an hour after that Rainbow Dash caught me and I ate second lunch at a strangely placed equine camp. The lonesome corral, weathered and looking much disused, stood by the single picnic table that we quickly sat down upon, happy for the perfect chair!

We roamed for miles after that, our chatter moving from topic to topic as easily as a bee flirting with flowers. We moved from burn to woods and desert and woods again. And quite suddenly we heard water — big water. We were very excited and picked up the pace, practically skipping down the hillside to the sound of the water.

But the trail teased, and it was a mile until we finally came to it. Rainbow Dash named it an award winning creek, and we laughed that she needed to keep a running tally, as she was the newly appointed judge of the waterways of the PCT.

We wiggled through brush until we found camp — 22 miles from our beginning.

I am a bit stiff, but the big miles seem to suit me, especially when the weather is so perfect and the night is so mild. 

 But, although I will be warm tonight (and only wearing two pairs of pants!), I am battling the mosquitoes tonight and desert tomorrow — we have three hot days before I see Ant’s face, and big miles and long water carries the whole time. My feet, sore as they are, are twitching with antic–