PCT Desert Day 22: Go Do

Mile 349.29 to 363.42 — Today’s miles: 14.13, then 4ish non-PCT miles into town
As expected, I sleep terribly in the ravine. My tent is pitched on such a slope that I continually wake through the night to find I have slid into the lower left corner. At least there is no wind or rain. I’m reluctant to get up, even though the birds are chirping. It’s chilly and foggy, I’m tired, and today is 14 miles of uphill. I hear the others start to make morning noises: the whoosh of air of a sleeping pad deflating, the crinkle of food bags being opened, the unzipping of sleeping bags and tent doors. I get up too, and head out and up into the clouds.

My feet hurt today. My toes aren’t doing great, still blistered, and the one toenail is only really being held on by tape now, because I don’t want to let it come off until I can get to town to clean my feet properly. I kind of trudge along the first bit of steepish uphill, then the trail turns to a more gradual ascent and I find a good cruising speed. A few miles later it’s back to the steepness, and it’s getting warm. There’s a stretch where the trail is slightly tipped to the side, so one foot is higher than the other — the slope’s not enough to make me worried about slipping, but enough that I have to kind of walk on the sides of my feet a bit, and this is very uncomfortable. I check my maps and see there’s a campsite in a mile or so, and resolve to take a long lunch break there. Today feels hard, and I need to regroup.

Sitting on my Tyvek, feet propped up on my tent bag to rest, I try to eat a lot of calories. I have service here and Cyn is also on her lunch break, so we text for a while. Of course because I am close to town I am starting to miss home more, and texting makes me miss Cyn a lot. I wish I was already in my hotel room. I retape a few toes and decide to try listening to music for a while. I’ve never done this while hiking, though I notice a lot of others with their earbuds in all the time. I know some people listen to podcasts or books on tape. I’ve just always preferred the sounds of the outdoors or am usually talking with Cyn (and on this trip, I’ve wanted to be sure I can hear any rattlesnakes’ rattles). But I need an extra boost today, to get me through these next seven miles of uphill.

So I listen to a Jose Gonzalez album, and then a Junip album that proves such great hiking music that I let it run through almost three times. With the music, I fall into a steady pace. My stomach grumbles. “How can you be empty already when I just ate lunch” — I check my watch — “oh, two hours ago. Okay, yeah, that’s about right.” I eat a Kind bar while walking, and soon find myself at the Acorn Trail junction down to Wrightwood. Most people I know are hiking on six more miles to Highway 2 and hitching in, but I’ve decided to take this steepish downhill for about three miles and then another mile or so of road walking into town. As I veer off onto the Acorn Trail, I switch my music to Jonsi. The first song of the album, “Go Do,” ramps up to the lyrics “We should always know that we can do anything — go do!” and I immediately burst into tears. I’m all alone on this side trail, shuffling downhill, crying and overwhelmed. It’s been such a hard day. My feet hurt, I’m exhausted from the ascent and the lack of sleep, I miss my girlfriend and my cats and my friends. I miss not being the only trans person (that I know of), I miss feeling at ease with other people. Sometimes this trail is really difficult, in all sorts of ways, but here I am, doing it anyway. As the album plays on I alternate between contemplative and teary, my thoughts turning to all of those who are lost to me, lost to this world now, at least in the form that I knew them: my Nana, my friends Bryn and Ang, my dog. It is a long three miles down, and when I finally reach the forest floor I am emotionally spent.

I walk through a very fancy neighborhood with enormous, beautiful wooden houses. There are small coolers out in front of a few, with “For Hikers” notes on them, but they all just contain water, which I already have. “These wealthy people couldn’t spring for sodas?” I think, knowing what a spoiled brat this thought makes me, but wanting a cold soda nonetheless.

I check into my hotel room, one of six total in a tiny little place in the center of town. Though Wrightwood seems so small that perhaps everything is the center of town. I walk to the hardware store and pick up my resupply box, go next door to the grocery store and buy a huge deli sandwich, a family sized bag of potato chips, a large container of apple juice, a coconut water, a ginger beer, and a bag of epsom salts. In my room, I eat all the food and then take a long shower. All the time in the water makes my blisters turn white and puffy, and my feet look like they are decaying, like they belong on Frankenstein’s monster. There is no bathtub, so I rinse out the little plastic garbage can and soak my feet in it one at a time while I talk to Cyn. I collapse into bed at dusk, but can’t sleep. Have I forgotten how to sleep in a bed? Should I blow up my sleeping pad and sleep on the floor? The indoor noises are strange. I get up, use the bathroom, read, doze, and then cycle through these activities again, and again, until finally around 3am sleep finds me.

Hiking among the clouds in the morning.

At least all that uphill leads to this sort of thing.

And this.

Looking down towards Wrightwood, I think.

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