Tommy set the alarm for 4:30 and I wake up to his flashlight and then everyone else’s. I groan and dig around for mine and start packing up, shoving around my dirty ziplocs and extra clothes. I slept well. I head out with Farkle while everyone else is cooking warm breakfasts and cross two roads in the dark. Everything is chaparral with the moon in a crescent. We turn back and watch the cars going down the freeway towards a lightening horizon. How are there so many cars out in the middle of nowhere? I ask. Farkle has no idea. There is a splash of bright pink sunrise in the sky and we stop to take a snack. It’s too light for headlamps now.
Alpo comes by and hops past us. We see him on the other side of the valley, walking fast. Kathleen joins Farkle and I and we head off while Karma and Tommy stop to break. We’re high up on the side of a slope, dark green sweeping chaparral and windmills on a hazy ridge in the distance, hidden by mist and the rising bright sun. Farkle comes behind around the corners singing out loud. He has a beautiful voice and it makes me happy that he’s singing. I assume he’s singing to headphones because he knows the words and pauses and everything perfectly but I ask later and he’s singing from memory.
The trail is cruiser and Kathleen and Farkle and I walk without stopping, on a roll. We stop and tell each other how ugly everything is. This is our life now, Kathleen says, laughing. Farkle falls behind because his knee hurts a bit and I look at my phone. 9:49. I look at my Guthooks App. Boulder Oaks is 9.9 miles back. I catch sight of Kathleen as we’re rounding a bend and I shout, “10 by 10!” We cheer. Life is hard.
We start slowing down and feeling the miles in our feet. The last 2 miles to Mt. Laguna are hard and long. We enter a forest and the air is warm with pine scent. Farkle is hiking with us again and we hike the last mile together.
I catch sight of pavement and we stumble towards the bathroom. Then down to the restaurant. Alpo is there and we sit. Frittata and salad for me. We leave our packs and head to the outfitter, which is a dense awesome fire hazard maze of gear. Get some hand sanitizer and hot cheetos at the general store. Then back to get my pack and claim a spot at the campground. Everyone else is coming, there are so many hikers! Everyone at Mt. Laguna is sooo nice and hiker-friendly. I meet Vanessa aka Scissors as she’s getting a shakedown outside of the outfitters.
The wind is very strong and the ground is pretty loose so I have a hard time getting my tent to stay up. We all hang out and walk to the general store again, then back again. Alpo guesses that I’m homeschooled and says he’s surprised I’m good at social things. What? Whenever I tell people I’m homeschooled they generally give me a weird look and the conversation dies so I guess now I know how weird people think we are now. Ha. But look at them, they’re in the exact same place as I am doing the same crazy thing as me, so who’s talking?
I join a bunch of other hikers in the bathroom talking and charging our phones. I’m writing this in here in the warmth. It’s 30 minutes to hiker midnight. My shins hurt from standing on the concrete here so I should probably leave!