Miles today: 9
Total miles: 575
We considered hiking out early this morning, but it was 99 degrees when we woke up and no one wanted to tackle the big climb out of town in that kind of heat. So, we slept in, enjoyed the hotel continental breakfast in our pajamas and pocketed a lot of the single-serves for our food bags ("Oooo mini cream cheese packets!") and then went back to bed.
We were awake again in time for lunch at a local BBQ place, and then made the obligatory bakery stop before leaving town. At 5:30 we were back to the trail and hiking straight uphill for the first five miles.
Left to right: Rotisserie, Sansei, Focus, Bryan, Honey Bunny, Bramble
After so many lazy days in town, my backpack felt like it had rocks in it and I slowly struggled through the miles. As the sun set, the wind picked up and created a new challenge. We fought through it slowly until we escaped from the exposed ridge and dropped down into a more protected area. We had planned on doing ten to fifteen miles today, but after nine we found a flat tentsite and no one objected to stopping early.
It was the first time I hadn't hiked with Katie since we started, and it was strange without her there. All of us opted to leave our tents with Bryan to save weight, so we were cowboy camping for the next few nights. Fortunately the weather was calm and clear tonight. Rotisserie and Sansei, who over their time in Tehachapi had grown closer, laid out their sleeping bags close together in a little grove of trees in the distance, and so Focus and I kept each other company. He made dinner while I wrote in my journal and I asked him about the guiding job he used to have in Australia, and quizzed him on the Northern constellations. Someone had taught him the Big Dipper already, though he wasn't sure what a "dipper" was. I found it fascinating that this was his first trip to the United States and couldn't help but wonder what sort of culture shock he was having, especially since all he knew of the US was what the PCT had shown him. In some ways, this was lucky, for life on trail showed the best of America.
"Don't you find it weird having Christmas in the middle of summer?" I asked.
"No way, it's awesome!" he laughed.
"But you don't get to have snowball fights or sit by the fireplace or drink hot cocoa and go ice skating!" I said, completely transfixed on America's "traditional" idea of Christmastime.
"No, I get to go surfing!" Focus said.
I shook my head. "That's just weird. And that means Fourth of July is in the middle of winter!"
"...What's Fourth of July?" Focus laughed.
I fell asleep wondering if the stars in the Southern Hemisphere were nearly as wonderful as the Northern stars were tonight.