Day 10- 6.3 miles from Mary’s Place/Walden (145.4) to Idyllwild via Paradise Valley Cafe/Hwy 74 (151.8)

I am awake. Wow. That’s cool. My makeshift rear tarp pole stick held up for a while last night, I think, but then I made the mistake of using one of the nail/peg stakes that I had leftover from my tarptent, which doesn’t stay very well, and it fell out, and now my sleeping quilt is being molested by my condensation-covered tarp, and now it is damp.

I was not feeling nearly that dramatic about it when I was there this morning, but I am writing this now, at night, and feeling silly and dramatic. So there you go. In reality I was feeling very practical and non-dramatic, and as soon as I woke and heard packing up I set about my task of packing up in the misting morning. I shoved the stake back into the ground where it came from and propped my spare trekking pole up against the roof of my tarp to give myself even more headroom. Ahh! I also usually write in present tense but you either must forgive me, or stop reading in disgust.

Then I pack up. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to pack up wet camp and gear with the intention of hiking that day. I get everything except my tarp and ground cloth and pad packed away, and then clamber out into the world.

Maddy’s still packing up her things inside her little cuben fiber tent, and Oldtimer pulls me towards her tent. “I want to talk to you two about something,” he says.

“What, did we do something wrong?”

“No, no. I’ve just got a bad feeling about one of the guys yesterday,” he says, and says his name.

Maddy’s eyebrows arch up as she glances at me.

I say his name out loud to confirm.

“Yes. I had a dream about him. God’s telling me you shouldn’t trust him. He was waiting for you to catch up with him so he could hike with you. I just don’t want you two to get hurt.”

Okay, we say. I nod.

Then I sling my pack on and start walking, Ziploc and OT just behind me. It’s cold. The world is buried deep in cloud, and I can’t see very far. The plants are wet as my shoes brush past them. I have my trekking poles strapped to my pack so the cold metal doesn’t drain the heat from my hands. I wear my sleeping socks on my hands and feel like Squidward.

I think about what OT said as I walk. I trust him. He may not be right, but I trust his intuition and experience with people, and I trust him as a person. The guy OT was talking about is charismatic (I removed that part of my journal from yesterday because I don’t want to hurt anyone when it’s just a hunch), but that’s exactly what someone who would take advantage of us would be. I didn’t find him creepy. But I’d rather trust OT and be wrong than not pay attention and have him not be wrong. I’m not assuming that he has bad intentions, but I’m going to keep up a guard and I’m not going to seek to further a friendship.

OK, that’s a decision.

My bad foot is hurting. The blister isn’t healing very well, I should probably be covering it or something. The skin is new and raw in a patch where the skin came away, and it presses against my shoe every time I step down. I start altering my stride to alleviate the pain, which puts strain on the muscles and bones on the outside of my foot. On top of that, my hammer toes are arching up and there’s a slight, dull pain in the ball of my foot from the weather and barometric changes.

We came to the decision before leaving that we were going to hitch into Idyllwild on the highway 6 miles from camp and take our zero early. Ziploc and OT and I stop to look at room availability and online booking, and Maddy catches up. The Idyllwild Inn is full, but I snag a room for 2 nights at the Silver Pine Lodge for Maddy and OT and me.

Then we hike to the highway in the fog. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I want to be warm and clean and full. We get there and stand on the side of the road on the gravel shoulder, and Maddy and I stand up front and stick our thumbs out at passing traffic, looking cheerful. “Maybe if we look more miserable they’ll pity us and stop,” I say. More cars pass by, headlamps emerging from the fog, turning into cars, then speeding away and around the corner.

We decide to walk down to the Paradise Valley Cafe where another road joins, where there will be more traffic, and so we’re not sitting around getting cold. Oldtimer sticks a thumb out as we’re walking and a car pulls up. Maddy and I laugh and run partway there.

“See, they’ll stop for the old guy,” OT says, grinning amiably.

“You’ve just got to show more leg,” says Ziploc, pulling up his pant leg and baring his calf to the road.

The woman was only going to bring us to Paradise Valley Cafe, but then gives us a ride to a gas station a couple miles past the turn-off. We stand and stick our thumbs out some more. A white truck with a covered bed pulls off. There’s already some hikers inside, but Maddy and I squeeze in the back with our packs and OT and Ziploc find room in the front. We’re dropped off in Idyllwild. “Thank you so much,” we repeat emphatically.

We walk to Silver Pines Lodge. Our room isn’t ready, so we sit and call our families in the warm sitting room, with deep leather couches and two fireplaces. We finally get in, and explode everything from our packs into every surface and corner of the room. We set up our sleeping quilts and tents in front of the heater to dry.

We meet Drippy down at Idyllwild Pizza Co., where Maddy orders gluten-free pizza and I get a large Gourmet Veggie, which considering doesn’t have many veggies on it, or any colorful ones. I have plenty extra pizza to graze on. Drippy has a room at Idyllwild Inn, and has been sick with a cough and chills.

We go back to our rooms and veg. We’re going to all go see Avengers: Infinity War At 7. It starts raining outside, and briefly snows. We’re all incredibly happy to be inside and warm, and not sleeping outside in it. We get our laundry done at the lodge. We walk to the theater together in the cold- I’m super excited for the movie, and to see which characters die. I’m super hyped up about it, after watching all of the movies this fall and winter with my injury. I take pictures of all of the old posters with women swooning and showing leg and pathetically clutching the chest of the male heroes.

The theater has blankets, and we put them on our laps. The movie starts, and it’s funny and entertaining and nice. I start feeling chills running through my body though, so I really hope I don’t have whatever Drippy got. Towards the end, one of the group of teenagers behind us starts breaking into loud sobs, which is distracting, but also hilarious, and the movie ends and Poof! Poof! Poof! (If you’ve seen the movie you know what I mean by poof). I find it all absolutely hilarious and am not sad at all, and when the lights turn on I laugh and laugh. It’s a mean cliffhanger and not entirely fair. Jerks.

We walk back in the dark and freezing cold. Ziploc goes off to try and find some ice cream. It’s cold out! Ridiculous. The rest of us walk back to our cabin and get ready to sleep.

I got ice cream! Ziploc texts me later.

Nerd, I tell him.

But I got ice cream!

Neeerdd, I say.