Today the hiking felt normal. We woke up, wondered at the pink sunrise at the foot of our tent, and spent an entire hour choosing where to place each item we had taken from the carefully chosen spot the night before.
We started walking, and found it to be fine. The packs were lighter every sip of water we took, and every bite we ate. We wished good morning to the people we met yesterday, and felt a surge of family right here in the desert.
Today, over the course of 15 rather tough (if I do say so myself [and I did]) miles, we passed through an insane array of terrain. There was the gruff purple sage of the western desert in my mind, the grasslands we passed with cows all big shouldered and shocked eared, and even a glorious boulderland that we hit just as the sun began to make its way to the horizon.
The desert is nothing like I thought it was. I imagined vast expanses of emptiness. Here, around every single corner, is a shocking new vista. There are more growing and singing and scuttling things here than I could ever imagine in a week!
My favorite new discovery is that the desert here is home to the horny toad — one of the cutest little reptiles I have ever seen in my life. They look exactly like Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon for you sad people who don’t know — please stop reading and start watching immediately) when they are little. When they are bigger (we saw three today!) they look like the most epic dragons ever (missing wings). They run with their bellies flat to the ground and with a ridiculous swish in their back two legs.
Today was lovely. And finding a campground full of other thru hikers laughing and happy with running water and a picnic table (chairs! Glory!) was beautiful. This feels exactly like home.