Having never slept alone out in the wild for the first time on trail I was surprised at how well I slept. For the first time since I got on the trail I felt like I got a full night’s rest.
I awoke at 6am slightly drooling and began to pack up my camp. By this time I have a pretty good routine. I change from my sleep clothes into my hiking shorts and sun proof top. I trade my thick wool socks for my thinner darn tough socks. I then begin to (begrudgingly) put my sleeping bag away and pack up the rest of my gear and tent.
I was only a few miles away from the road splitting off to town. 3.7 to be exact. Nicole and her family made it to the water source next to my camp just as I was heading out. I said hello and passed them, heading up the switchbacks thinking only of getting a hotel room and seeing Jacob.
View of the morning looking out from the switchbacks leading into Mount Laguna.
The trail rose steadily but I only had to stop once to catch my breath rather than the several times I had been stopping earlier on the trail. Trail legs or motivation to see someone I know and love…I guess we will find out tomorrow when I’m back on trail.
As I gained elevation the terrain began to change from Manzanita to pine trees. Having been hiking through the desert just minutes before it felt eerie to enter the pined forest. It was refreshing to see a change in scenery.
When the desert suddenly turns into a forested area…
The sign signifying that I was almost in town.
I blasted some Fleetwood Mac in one ear as I pushed on through the trail. By now it had mostly leveled out and I blazed through the 2 miles leading up to town.
Navigating myself to the Laguna Mountain Lodge, I waited on the front porch for them to open. It was only 8:15am and they opened at 9. Much to my surprise a man let me in early, feeling bad that I was sitting in the cold. I wasn’t cold, but I was happy to buy a Gatorade and book a hotel room for the night. I had to keep myself occupied until about 1:30pm.
I headed down the street to the Pine Tavern to find a good amount of hikers eating breakfast cheerily over conversation. I met several new hikers, some of which were from Germany, France, and Denmark. The morale was high as we talked about our experiences and what we were looking forward to or dreading the most.
My breakfast from the Pine Tavern…Breakfast hash. Boy was it flavorful.
Around 12 I headed back to the Lodge to wait for my hotel room and for Jacob to meet me. Having no cell phone service, I told him to meet me on the porch of the Lodge and he arrived a little after 1:30pm. I got my hotel room, and I showered before pushing myself into his arms and crying into his shoulders. It felt so good to feel home…
The kind hotel manager gave hikers who stayed bins to wash our clothes in as well as some powdered laundry detergent. I washed my clothes in the bucket and spoke with Jacob about my experiences on trail so far and his experiences working Coachella. I really missed being able to get my thoughts out and have them be accepted and returned.
I hadn’t realized just how much the trail was breaking me down. That was the whole reason I wanted to come out here in the first place…to be alone and learn to thrive doing something I love. I sat staring at Jacob with tears pouring down my face. It was hard to communicate exactly what I was feeling, as the wilderness and especially the desert, really takes something out of you.
Jacob drove us back to the Pine Tavern and he sat at the hiker table with me and had a burger. I was amazed at how quickly he took that burger down, and grateful to be able to enjoy a good meal with him. I ate nearly my entire burger and fries, the most I’ve been able to eat since being on the trail.
After conversing with Domino, Sally and another man we headed back to his truck to say our dreadful goodbyes. Jacob drove me back to my hotel room and kissed me goodbye. As I walked away he told me to try not to go crazy….as if I wasn’t already crazy enough.
I took a warm bath and am comfortably laying in my hotel bed. Pillows are propping my back up and Naked and Afraid is playing on the television. My clothes are drying and I feel at ease.
Tomorrow I plan to make it at least to Penny Pines water faucet which is about 7 miles up the trail. I will need to talk to another hiker who has an updated version of the water report as mine is nearly a week old and I have not had service to update it.
The next stretch is hot, dry, and nearly waterless. I’m a little bit nervous to enter the lower desert but am excited to continue on the trail further north and closer to home.