We woke today at the top of a mountain. It was beautiful. The clouds created a layer of marshmallow fluff that filled up the whole valley. We walked down and down into the mist.
Dash had spent the night lower than us, and waited on us (and our slow waking) at a ranger’s station where she could charge her phone. We partook of the picnic tables for breakfast and then trucked downwards toward town — dreaming of pancakes and burgers and vegan pizza (Dash’s choice).
I tried to remember a perfect Bike & Build day aloud to Ant, but was told I got my days all confused. The comment caused me to spiral into an existential crisis — complete with pricks of tears in my eyes.
What if I can’t remember anything? What if every moment I am in now evaporates into nothingness? What even is memory? Do I change reality to meet my own needs?
Down and down we went, my thoughts churning inside.
I was hungry and became filled with an unspeakable rage. I wanted pancakes. I wanted to rip my bag off my body and slash it with a knife. I wanted to destroy the trail and run down to the road I could see and carjack a car to get to pancakes.
I ate some turkey and my heart slowed, my rage subsided, my existential crisis ended abruptly. I giggled about it.
And then we were at the road, a package waiting in town and no way to get there. Ant and I felt our hunger return and hopelessness settle.
We got a text from a trail angel telling us to head to the KOA. When we arrived, a ride materialized and so did Rainbow Dash (who had dashed ahead). We got to town and REI had sent beautiful new boots for Ant to try and a beautiful sleeping bag liner that would bring my bag to a reasonable temperature rating.
We sat on the porch of the post office, which gave off an old timey western vibe, and ripped apart the package. Ant tried on the very purple shoes and we admired them. What stiff soles! What squishy ankles! How purple they were!
A woman approached, asking about the trail and mentioning Wild. We chatted a little, telling her about our trip, and she offered a ride to her trailer and a shower and a place to stay for the night. The KOA flashed before my eyes, a mile of gravel parking lot that sad people lived sad lives in, one on top of the other.
“Yes!” We chirped together.
“How will I ever be able to tell my mom about this?” I moaned to Ant. “We got into a stranger’s car and went home with them!”
“We didn’t get into a stranger’s car,” Ant said, “we got into a stranger’s Lexus!”
“It was too much!” We cried. But she gave it to us, and there we were, watching Doctor Who on Netflix on plush leather couches, showered, with laundry in the machine, having eaten a whole pizza apiece. I was tucked up in a fuzzy blanket when Teresa’s (that’s our trail angel’s name) partner came home.
We squealed! How did we find the sweetest trail angel who was also family?!?
Their two dogs came out and we were warm and eating again and petting puppies. They made a fire and we were talking about their travels and plans for their retirement together and the beauty of a life lived freely.
It is a dream that we hope to never wake from!