Day 32: The Desert Unfolds

The world was dewy and dappled as we woke this morning, tucked away in the warmth of our sleeping bags. I stretched awake at 6.30 but spent an entire half an hour reading in bed — it was decadent.

And then we were off, climbing into the hills. Ant put on music so we both could hear, and we were in a movie of our lives. Gentle sounds of Temper Trap bounded around us, and we were adventurers joyfully rising above our encampment. We skipped along like that for song after song until Die Antwoord came on.

The movie transformed into an action film at 2.5 miles per hour.

“Murder, murder, murder/
Kill, kill, kill”

And we were slicing apart poodle dog bush, mowing down full meadows of the stuff in pure thru hiker glory.

We stopped for lunch, and we surprised at the pace we were on — our best day yet! Ant’s feet were better, and I was secretly jumping for joy — this could work, it really could!! 

 But after lunch, huddled nearly in the trail with lizards and squirrels bouncing all around us, we were moving through molasses. The up was painful, my mind lagged until it stalled altogether, pregnant with wishes of sitting on the trail and not going on.

I started dreaming of doing a 30 mile day to get to Acton tomorrow, and I spiraled into fantasies of what I would eat. The pancakes were before me, sticky syrup in hand, and the coffee bad burned my over anxious tongue.

And then we burst onto the top of the hill we had been chipping away at all day. The trail meandered along the edge, showing us views of the long, flat, desperately dry looking valley below.

“Is that the Mojave?” We wondered. “Will it be flat right until the Sierras?” 

 We looked at our app and saw we had 55,000 feet of elevation (in total) to climb before mile 709 — when we magically reach the Sierra and everything is different.

“If we make it there,” I said, “we make it all the way.”

The path loped back over the way we came.

“I kind of am angry at the trail for not taking us more directly.” I murmured, and Ant agreed, and I mentally added it to the list of unchangeables that I consider active enemies.

So we stopped for the fourth time in four hours and sat and talked to Nate, all the way in Seattle, and I pretended we were sitting across from each other at our favorite coffee shop, although the static and calls dropped made it hard. 

 We ate and fumbled around with food until there was nothing left to do but walk. Turning a corner, the whole of the desert stretched out right into the clouds, patchworked with games and places where tiny people are living right now, watching TV or working or buying Coke.

It was beautiful, and it was where our 18 inch trail was taking us, right into the hazy bluey white of forever.

Closer than the infinite was a terrible burn. Looking to my left and to my right huge warrior trees, surviving to years of man and weather, were brought to their knees by fire. My spirit flagged, and I flipped on some music.

Natasha Beddingford came through to put my thoughts to them better than I could:

“These words of my own, from my heart flow/
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.”

All of this is nonsensical — the journey, the emotions, the ups and downs, being in the place of my dreams and now dreaming of home, the terrible destruction. But time is eternal, and even these blackened scars will heal.