A mosquito kept me up last night. It was a single mosquito, and it kept trying to land on my face, even when I scrunched my hat and quilt so there was only a small gap for air. After an hour or so of it buzzing my ear I let it land in my right ear and then jerk my head, crushing it against my quilt. The stars were out, an owl was hooting, frogs chorusing, and I finally was able to fall asleep.
Once again it’s fitful. I wake up early in the morning to someone crying out in their sleep, night terrors. I coast to wakefulness and start my day at 5:30. I pack up and head up to the road after Drippy after shoving some food in my mouth.
It’s 10 miles to Mt. Laguna, winding around green hills with streambeds winding, too, in the canyon bottoms. I leapfrog with a couple of people, rushing the miles while the trail is still shaded. It’s enrollment day at my community college, and I check my service several times before I get some at the top of a high ridge. I sign up for my classes. It’s my backup plan in case I don’t make it to Canada, and what I call reverse Murphy’s Law. If you plan for the worst, the worst won’t happen. If I make it all the way to Canada I’ll still be hiking when the semester starts.
Drippy is making good time today, and as we near Mt. Laguna I find myself hiking with Stretch and a woman named Meesha who’s hiking with her mother. I enjoy talking to her and makes the long last mile feel a little shorter. I lead them through the campground. I wash up and walk with Ziploc and Oldtimer to the Café. I order lemonade and cobbler and egg scramble and sit down at the big table to socialize.
I eat my food and after a while move down to the general store steps to give other hikers room in the cafe. I get some ramen and an ice cream cookie sandwich before realizing that I’ll need to buy more food since I’m not hitching into Julian. I do my hip PT exercises and buy more food, and am given by Maddy some bagels, Girl Scout cookies, and a big bag of Doritos that someone else had left her. Ziploc, the perpetual planner, rattles off water logistics and daily hiking mileages. He gives Meesha’s Mom a mini shakedown and helps her drop 5 lbs of gear.
We have a 30 mile dry stretch before Scissor’s Crossing. Maddy’s Dad is leaving tomorrow so I tell her she should catch up and join us.
Eventually I get up and leave with Oldtimer, Ziploc close behind. We walk up the road and turn right at the community church to find the trail again. I stop to pee and fall behind Ziploc, through wooded slopes parallel and above the road that goes through Mt. Laguna.
We get the first glimpse of the stark drop off to the desert floor that we’ll be seeing for the next stretch. The plateau we’re on is green and lush with low bushes, and beyond the drop off is the desert floor, milky and faded-out from the distance. It must be several thousand feet to the bottom, which even then is studded with mountains that look miniature from this height. It’s completely indescribable.
My foot’s not quite hurting but it’s really beat and it’s lower lip is very slightly beginning to quiver, in preliminary threat of a meltdown. I’ve been doing a lot, and could definitely be taking it slower. I like this group, but if I have to I’ll fall behind. I can’t really do much to slow down with the long waterless stretch ahead, though. You can only carry so much water. Speed is the key to getting through. I can’t wait until a double near o into Warner Springs.
I take it slow to the wooden outlook, where Drippy and Stretch and Ziploc and Oldtimer are waiting for me. Yes, they’re a good group. We head off Trail and up Sunrise Highway to Laguna Campground. We have to walk a long ways into the spread-out campground to find where Windbreaker is set up near some showers. We chip in to pay the fee for our site.
I set up my cowboy and then head over to the showers. I strip off my sweaty clothes and feed my quarters into the slot. After the fourth one the shower comes alive and I step under the stream of hot water. Ahhh. It feels incredible on my shoulders, which I burnt a week before leaving. The burnt skin rubs off under my fingers. I clean my shirt and underwear, too.
I finish and sit down at the picnic table with everyone and cook my ramen. As the sky is darkening and everyone’s gone to bed I fill all of my water capacity and let my foot sit under the cold stream of water at the pump. There’s a toad by the bathroom. I’ve finally started my period. Then I go to my quilt and snuggle in. I think I’ll finally sleep good. Foot, hang in there. Amelia, don’t fuck this up.