I awoke with a sore throat. What the heck? Maybe it was all the huffing and puffing I did up the hill yesterday, or maybe it was the mountain air. Maybe it was the fact that I finally spent more than 3 minutes talking to other people? The night before was full of jokes and laughing, and was a pretty good time.
We hiked out of Mt. Laguna, through sand and rock. The morning was already warm, and my legs were itchy with horsefly bites. Sand had gotten onto my thighs where I had smeared anti-chaff cream… which kind of defeated the purpose in the end. Despite the heat, I wore my wool leggings to prevent chaff.
But I was having a good morning. We hiked a bit, stopped at a cold steam under a bridge, hiked a bit more, then spent a few hours at another cold stream where I bathed and washed all my clothes. Apparently washing your clothes in streams is frowned upon… but I didn’t use soap, so… eh? While we were here Evan figured out he had a poison oak rash on his hands and chest, shit! Laundry day for him too then.
By this point we had been hiking with Brittany for two days now. She’s pretty cool, and I feel so much better about hiking with someone ‘on my level’. Poor girl was carrying waaay too much stuff though (fell victim to her mother’s worries).
The hike after lunch was brutal. My shoulder was screaming at me, Evan’s hands burned, and Brittany pulled a muscle. Could have been worse though. We took a break and another thru hiker came hobbling down the wrong way and said she misplaced her trekking poles, got lost, ran out of water, and her knees were about to give out on her. It’s all about perspective.
(We met up with her later and she had gotten her shit together and was on the right track again).
The views were great in this section, but we were all beyond tired. We stumbled into a full camp just before darkness settled in. There were so many bugs here… and spiders… uhg. What a night. I slept well, at least.
It’s strange how you can wake up early but still not get your poop in a group with time to leave camp early. Breaking camp takes way more time than you expect, upwards of an hour sometimes. Even longer if you have to filter water and still have a god damned Sawyer Mini! After trying Brittany’s larger Sawyer Squeeze we decided to just upgrade. We’re so stubborn, but it literally just took 3 days to give up on the slower filter.
Thankfully, we were starting out that morning just 10 miles to Mt. Laguna where a gear shop waited for us.
But, those 10 miles were all uphill, over 1000 feet of elevation change.
In contrast to the other day, however, I breezed up those hills. I had to stop occasionally to cool down or catch my breath of course, but my chest never felt tight and I never felt like I was going to pass out.
Until, of course, I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake.
THEN I struggled to breath, THEN my chest felt tight, and then I immediately broke into sobs when I was far enough away from it and it slithered out of sight. I’ve never been so scared in my life. Thankfully Evan had been right behind me.
We were less than a half mile from the stream we planned to break at, and I cajoled Brittany out of a pack of ramen for my lunch. I needed comfort food after that panic attack, and it did the job.
The afternoon hike was filled with noise as I clicked my sticks together to scare snakes away. The 600 foot climb up was brutal, but the 2 mile level alpine forest walk into Laguna was dreamy. If you don’t mind 6 flies in your face at all times, no matter how much you swat.
In town we were treated to cold sodas and a hiker box full of food other backpackers didn’t want but we very much did. We spent WAY too much money on a new filter, some running shorts for me, and some other stuff I can’t remember. My memory doesn’t work that well lately. Then we bought some overpriced foods at the store ($0.75 for a pack of ramen!!), went back to the campground, and had a really good time with all the folks there.
I really like the people on this trail, especially the people my age. I’ve never connected well with my peers, always gravitating towards the older folks or the younger, but finally I’ve met *my* people! Jeanie, Ryan(?), Jason, Sara, all of em. All good people ✌️
We sipped some vodka, ate more ramen, burnt my tongue impatiently eating my queso noodles and rolled into bed.
No shame, tonight was the first time I had brushed my teeth so far.
I’m still in Mt Laguna we’re taking a nearo* day and only hiking a few miles after lunch. We got breakfast and coffee (!!) at the Pine House Cafe, resupplied properly, did some sink laundry, and dumped some gear in the hiker box that we decided we didn’t want anymore. No more sleeping clothes for me, it’s just a bunch of stupid extra weight. Saved a pound there, and every one counts.
Our next town will be Julian in 2 days, hopefully before this storm hits. Heavy rain, and in the higher elevations they expect snow. Wee!
(*A ‘nearo’ day is when you hike a few miles for the day. A ‘zero’ day is when you take a rest day.)