I wake up the next morning and join Karma and Nirvana at the cluttered picnic table. Empty beer cans and food packages cover the surface, plus a box of ziplocs, people’s stoves and grocery hauls. Spilled beer pools in the grooves of the wood. Karma and I clear it up, bringing the beer cans to the recycling bins. Then I grab my food bag and stove and sit down to make a hot drink and sort through the rest of my food. We poke through the food-storage cabinet that’s been converted to a hiker box. There’s a plastic bag of fresh cherries, which I pull out, and Nirvana finds a crusty old glass bong, which he takes a picture of. Colleen and Rawhide stayed at Herkel Campground last night, so they’ll be here today. We weigh our strategy for the big snowstorm that’s in the forecast; I glance up at the sky. It’s still blue and not too cold, but it’s definitely cooled down from the last few days. The two options are to get out of town as soon as we can and try to beat it, or wait it out.
After I nibble on some food, I grab my pile of dirty clothes and head out to find the laundromat. I wander out of the campground in my rain gear, turn right at the entrance. The laundromat is in a run-down building a little bit down the road. I walk in and inspect the machines for a few minutes, trying to figure out which ones I need to use and how. There are 3 different kinds of washers and dryers each, with complicated names that seem to be important. Finally the employee comes in and gives me some pointers. I buy the detergent that seems the least offensively scented, throw my clothes in a small washer, put in my quarters, and head out to the nearby grocery store. I have an hour.
I wander around looking at food, overwhelmed. There’s so much food, and I’m not sure what I’ll get or what I need. I finally settle on a kombucha and a cinnamon bun from the derelict cafe counter, and sit down to eat it for breakfast.
I meet Karma and Nirvana back at the laundromat, and put my clothes in to dry as they start to wash theirs. I sit on the bench to let my phone charge and talk to a hiker who’s trying to find a bus route home. I go back to the campground and change into my clothes. Then I walk back into town. I need to get my resupply box from the post office, but it’s only open for an hour on Saturdays. I go to the pizza place and order a large pizza with olives, spinach and garlic and sit down at a table with a bunch of hikers I don’t know. They leave, and I start feeling anxious about how big the pizza will be and how expensive food is, and whether I’ll even be able to eat it all, anxious in general- I try to swallow it down and talk to the hikers that have sat down with me. The pizza comes and I eat half of it. The dough tastes distinctly like wheat and it’s soft and good. I get the other half to go and wait in line with locals and hikers to get my package.
I walk back to the campground (so much walking! are these town day entries tedious to read? Do I need to summarize more?) and leave everything in my tent, dropping some of my pizza in the dirt in the process. I meet Karma and Nirvana at the cabin Colleen and Rawhide got. I walk (more walking) to the Idyllwild theater with them. We buy tickets for Guardians of the Galaxy 2. As we wait for the single theater room to open, I sit and look at all of the old movie posters framed on the walls. All of them have women fainting and being held by men, women being seduced by men, women naked, women in the clutches of monsters as the male heroes look dashingly on. Only one of them has a woman in a position of power. She wears a red dress and holds a smoking handgun, her other arm akimbo.
The theater opens and the employees hand out soft blankets to put on our laps as we sit.
When the movie is over, I walk out into a different world. The sky is close and gray. Mist rises and swirls in hypnotic eddies off of the pavement, and cold bites into my bare, sandaled feet. Somewhere, the sun must be low in the sky, but I can’t tell in the mist. It’s not raining or snowing yet. We walk back to Colleen and Rawhide’s cabin. I stay long enough to thaw out my toes, and then follow Karma back through the empty and gray streets of Idyllwild towards the campground. It’s still pretty early, so we stop on the way at a cafe to warm up. I get a cup of scalding cider, plug in my phone to charge, and sit down on a bench by Karma. Two local musicians are playing folk music, and the cafe is cozy and warm with the music and all of the local people perched in easy chairs listening to them play. The show ends, and Karma and I get up to leave. The sky is black now and the mist is illuminated only by the lights of the businesses, which are mostly closed for the evening. I turn on my phone light, and follow Karma down the street. My feet crunch, numb already, on crumbling asphalt as I cross the street into the darkness between the downtown and the campground entrance. I shiver and look around me.
The ranger station is open, so I say goodnight to Karma and step inside to warm my toes one last time. It’ll be much easier to warm them here than in my cold sleeping bag. Then I walk the last stretch back to my tent, unzip it, and flop down. I brush the pebbles off of my feet and pull them inside tent, zip up the vestibule, and wiggle into my sleeping bag. I eat cold pizza for dinner, brushing off the dirt the best I can from its spill earlier today. It’s a bit crunchy.
I’m tired, and even though I figure that I’ll be awake for a while warming up, it’s warm enough in my tent and after only a little bit of shivering I’m asleep.