The sun is bright but it’s still cool enough to lie in my sleeping bag, my eyes tight to block out the light. I can’t hear anyone packing up near me; it’s hard to get out of towns early. A group of guys is sitting at the picnic table, talking loudly and audibly about guy things (later, Colleen will joke about waking up early in the middle of a big camp and talking loudly about menstruation).
Blah. I have to force myself, one step at a time, out of my sleeping bag. First, uncinch the drawstring that holds my hood tight around my face, then unzip it, then get out. The first thing I do each morning is stuff my sleeping bag into the bottom of my backpack so I’m not tempted to get back in.
I stumble to the bathrooms and brush my teeth, then wander around aimlessly listening to conversations. Karma is up and I say hello. Then it’s 7:25 which is an acceptable time to start walking to the post office. The walk is long and the low sun hits my face so I have to walk with one eye shut.
Once I’m there I sit and talk with a guy who’s a Triple Crowner (has hiked all three of America’s popular long trails, so the AT, PCT, and CDT). I don’t remember his name, but he’s hiking a section up to Cajon Pass between jobs and he did both the CDT and AT and AZT in one summer.
I get my package at the desk, and am about to walk off before I realize I should have two. I text my mom to get the tracking number. Apparently it was in San Diego last night, so it’s probably just come in and needs to be sorted. I go to get some breakfast to wait. I join Karma and Colleen and Rachel and order an avocado-feta-tomato-spinach omelette with hash browns. Yum.
Back at the post office, I get my second package with my new tent in it, and go to sit out front and open my first package, which is my food. There are notes from home, and a picture of my puppy Wren, and locks of her and Zephyr’s hair. The top of the box is filled with cookies and salmon jerky and delicious things that my parents packed. Underneath it is all of the random food-things that I threw in before I left. Condiment packages and other food-things that look gross and unappetizing.
We’re just about to try and walk back when Chris and Kelsey, who we hiked around a few days ago, drive up. Kelsey has an insanely long beard that flops around as he talks, and Chris is a doctor and carries an enormous medical kit (I first met them at Boulder Oaks, the same night I met Colleen, Karma and Twerk). They spent the weekend off-trail with one of their girlfriends, and offer us a ride in the back of their hitch-on trailer back to the community center. We climb in. Driving is so much faster than walking!
I putter around camp some more, doing who-knows-what, it seems important at the time. Sorting food, dropping off things in the hiker box and picking up crumpled bags of salt and vinegar chips to bring back. Charging my electronics, setting up my mom’s Fly Creek UL 2 tent for the first time. I feel bummed about sending back my tarptent and I go to the gear shop twice to get advice from Pillsbury, the owner, about which tent I should take. I don’t get it, I hated my protrail so much just a while ago, but now I’m super attached to it. What. When it comes time to throw away all of the notes that my family sent me, I can’t bear to throw away the puppy hair for some reason and decide to carry it with me. I’m sitting with Colleen and Karma and laugh-cry about it, my eyes watering while I’m doubled over with laughter. Really I think I’m just crying.
Towns are really hard to get out of. Colleen and I catch a ride back to the post office and I send my tarptent home, as well as a bunch of other things. We get a ride back in a truck bed. The wind is pressing into my face. Colleen is just sitting there, grinning and clutching the side. “Wait, are we past the community center?” I shout. The hills rush past, golden and empty of buildings. Suddenly, the car brakes, we slide forward in the truck bed and clutch the sides of the truck bed. The truck makes a 3-point turn, and we’re rushing back the way we came. The community center comes into view as the car brakes again, and we’re pulling into the parking lot.
We hop out, and the driver apologizes. “We almost forgot you were there.”
More procrastinating and slow packing-up. I reach escape velocity, buckling down my backpack top and heading off. I weigh my pack at the gear trailer. 25 pounds with food and almost 2 liters of water. Then off!! We all plan to meet at a campsite by a creek 5 miles in. It’s hot out, the trail threading through an outdoor obstacle course (??), under a highway overpass, through tight winding hills. I’m already just as sweaty and gross as when I came into Warner Springs yesterday.
We come into camp and I help Tarantino set up his new tarptent protrail. Everyone’s been telling him it’s a bad tent, including me, but I feel bad that we’re giving him a scare about his new piece of gear. I tell him it’s a definite upgrade from the 5 pound tent he was carrying before.
We sit around in the sand in a circle and cook our dinners. Frogs are croaking in the creek. I make a ramen bomb, rice ramen mixed with mashed potatoes, and it is delicious. It gets dark and finally we pull ourselves away to go to sleep.