Miles today: 20
Total miles: 498
Mr. Anderson began serving pancakes this morning at 7:00 am. All the hikers patiently stood in line for this bit of trail magic, waiting as he flipped and ladled pancakes. After gorging ourselves on carbs and maple syrup, we caught a shuttle back to the trail with the Chain Gang and Sansei. As nice as it is being at a trail angel's house, I think we're all glad to be back on trail. More and more it is becoming our safe haven from the world and our escape back into what we know best.
The first part of today was all climbing. Rotisserie, Katie and I walked with Sansei (who, ironically, was on our plane ride our very first day down to San Diego, but he called himself "Shutterbug" back then from his time on the AT. It's funny how so many things on the trail come back full circle!). Sansei was a much faster hiker than us but he often stopped for breaks and waited for us to catch up with him. He joked to others about staying at the Anderson's so long, but now that "a bunch of pretty girls were going back on trail", he had no choice but to follow. When we breaked, the Chain Gang caught up to us and soon there were ten of us sitting in a small amount of shade, munching on trail mix. A surprising number of hikers passed us as we ate, more people than we had seen on trail in weeks. Apparently everyone was leaving the Andersons today!
We hiked six miles to a water cache where there was shade and a picnic table. We had lunch together and I enjoyed how "communal" today felt, with everyone on trail together. I had fun eating with Boulder and Scooter and teasing them about the delicious amount of food they had packed in today: tomatoes and lettuce and ham and baguettes and a whole bottle of BBQ sauce.
After lunch we were climbing again, and I dreaded the hot afternoon hours when we didn't get a siesta from the heat. But I took my time, and after an hour of scorching sunlight, the wind picked up and helped cool me off. The trail slowly became more forested/shaded and no longer felt as dreadful. The climbing only lasted a few miles, and then it mellowed out. I got into a groove and hiked steadily behind Rotisserie, Katie, Focus, Boulder and Scooter. We were up at higher elevations again and I could see down the mountains onto the vast desert below. We would officially be in the Mojave in two days time.
The wind picked up as the day went on, becoming more annoying than relieving. It kicked around my hat and knocked me around trail, making me stumble. At mile 18 we came to our next water source, which was a concrete cistern with a metal lid that we had to slide aside to reach the water below. We had to lower a dipper into the dark water and bring it up again to fill our water containers. It wasn't too pleasant looking, but it was our last water for quite some time, and it was necessary to fill up.
Left to right: Honey Bunny, Rotisserie, Boulder, Scooter
We only had two more miles to go to reach a campground for the evening. The weather had suddenly turned cold and windy, threatening storms. We hurried through the miles as quickly as we could and came upon a lovely, wooded campground an hour later. Katie, Rotisserie, Focus and I had arrived before the others, so we bundled up and made dinner on the picnic tables before setting up tents. Soon the others began arriving: the rest of the Chain Gang plus Starfox and Sansei. We made a little tent city and sat around talking before bed. I had a little moment where I found myself smiling, surrounded by these people, and I realized how much I enjoyed being in their company. We all came from such different backgrounds, but here we were embarking on the same challenging journey, and there was a stronger bond than friendship that came from that.