20 miles - nero
20 miles - nero
I wake before everyone in the makeshift tent and relish in the pre-day silence. A lady comes out the house and waves at me. She must be Papa Smurfs wife. I sit up and catch up on my journal as everyone slowly wakes up. They turn on their phones and reconnect to their online worlds. After an hour Papa Smurf comes out and announces he’s making breakfast and everyone speeds up. Mini burgers, meaty scrambled eggs, buttered potatoes, pancakes and leftover doughnuts are on the menu. I eat as much as my body will allow and then eat more. It tastes so good and my body is craving it. Everyone's up and eating now. I down several cups of milk and apple juice rehydrating myself. The taste is immense compared with trail water and the flavoured packets I use.
Papa Smurf divides us into groups and drives the first lot back to the trail. Poptart and I need to resupply so we hang around with 2 others. I stretch in the tent and get a call from my sister - Nicnacs and we chat for a bit. Then I video call my Dad. After an hour Papa Smurf returns and we head to the shops. It’s nice to be back in the human world as I listening in on the conversation.
We head to Trader Joes where I get ramen, cereal bars, chocolate, skittles, Ziplock bags, juice powder and an apple. I down an iced tea trying to drink lots before I venture back onto the trail. Two hikers stay in town as Poptart and I are driven back to the wild. We repack our bags and leave our unwanted packaging with Papa Smurf who understands the needs of hikers. He then says a prayer for us before we leave.
It’s midday and hard going. My bag is so heavy but having half a day off was such a nice way to relax and my feet and blisters feel so much better. I trudge along as the sun burns me. The heat is intense and I let Poptart go ahead. I slowly walk up with my pack ladened with food and water. It’s nice to be in a forest again. The deep smell of the woodland pine reverberating around me. I inhale deeply.
Suddenly a hummingbird flies above and observes me. I watch it amazed and also freaked by its effortless ability to hover there easily. It’s strange to see one in real time and not slowed down like in documentaries. I walk on and catch Poptart 13 miles after the drop-off point. She's at a water cache left by Papa Smurf. We chill there briefly before deciding to walk to the Little Bear Camp where we’ll spend the night. It’s 7 miles away which will make today a 20 mile half day! It's been a long day but the walk has been beautiful.
We arrive at the top and are able to look down over a lake. All I can hear is the wind through the pine trees and distant jet skis. Then we slowly descend on the winding trails, in and out of the mountain's crevasses. We’ve entered a dead forest where a fire ravaged the land recently. Its eerily beauty as the trees stand blackened with the setting sun on them. I‘m getting so tired and check my phone - the half mile ap more frequently. 5 miles 4 miles 4.5 miles, 3 miles, 3.5 miles, 3 and bit miles…
We keep going, my feet pounding the trail. 2 miles. I need new shoes pretty badly. 1 mile. The moon has appeared even though it still quite light. 0.5 miles It towers above the tall, fire-dead trees and looms watching everything. We finally arrive at the camp and find 4 guys there. One is a thru hikers, they take turns talking to us and report back to their table what they’re learnt. We are both exhausted and don’t really want to engage with them. It’s half 8 and the twilight has fallen now. We pitch up our tents for some privacy and fall asleep with ease. The moon is massive and lights up the field were in. I could read by it’s light