Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. – Marsha Norman
It’s a sleeping in kind of day, the walk coming up only about positioning for a big climb and water carry tomorrow. I dream about boyfriends-of-the-past, mostly conjuring them back into my subconscious so I can shake my head ‘no’ and send them back to the past. I hop out of bed and grab us coffee from the tiny lounge where a woman defends her unease with Pride weekend. Fortunately I move along quickly.
We pack up and I can’t find one sun-glove. I choose not to make a Michael Jackson fashion statement and simply throw the single glove away. Only a few more weeks, I think, and I still have my fleece hand tubes to protect at least most of my hands, my fingers turning a tawny brown in all this sun. In fact, most of my clothing is a bit ‘on the verge’ with stains and holes. It’s a wonder I still get told I do not look like a thru-hiker.
We bounce to Starbucks where everyone is in a good mood, though our neighbor explains that’s only because it’s November and cool. Summer brings misery in 120 degrees and encourages a different vibe. Next, we grab brunch at the downtown icon called ‘A Bit of Country’, filled with camp and nearly all men in short shorts, peacock feather earrings, sleeveless tie dye and sass. The foursome at the next table eye me eating a massive Carne Asada Fries and I assure them, I’ll eat it all. When they leave, the one in tie-dye congratulates me on walking so far on the PCT.
Denise picks us up at the motel where more people arrive for Pride weekend. It was wild last night in downtown, numerous parties, street bars and dancing all along the main drag. We ended up at Thai Smile, jam packed for the really good value meals and supreme people watching. Palm Springs has lots of good energy, I almost can’t get back on trail.
But Denise gets us right back to our dusty corner to resume, starting through a dark tunnel under the interstate strewn with discarded shoes, a mattress and a tire swing of all things, and a jug of water for hikers. Then it’s out onto a dry riverbed of sinky sand. The air is pungent from some desert plant. Ted leads, fast out of the gate towards a cleft in the mountains with San Jacinto peak 8,000+ feet above us.
We come to a tiny exclusive community, a man walking his corgi. Up the private road we meet two furry tarantulas, their long articulated limbs gently propelling them in pointy steps. At the faucet we see a family and Zombie! I haven’t seen him since Burney Falls. We chat as we fill water bottles, Zombie talking a mile a minute. He was the first of the most interesting hikers on the PCT and I’ve missed real conversation, even if he talks perhaps a bit too much. His plan is to go halfway up tonight, but we want to take on the long waterless stretch in one pull, carrying – and drinking – four liters as we climb.
A family of five comes by, the father telling us he comes here often and has never seen a PCT hiker. He peppers us with questions, and it’s fun explaining how things work, my plans and goals, what I carry, why I’m here and what’s been dangerous and funny. I take their picture – one serious, one silly and we have a good laugh. Most people I meet are bowled over by how far I’ve cone. I feel proud but also a bit sheepish; I’m not curing cancer, just walking. But will it make me a better person?
We say goodbye and set a cowgirl camp under a pink cotton-candy sky and waxing crescent moon. Windmills flash their red lights. A train toots mournfully. There are a few gnats, but the temperature drops a few degrees and they go back to their gnat homes. I’ve changed my clock and actually set an alarm to take advantage of the entire day. It’s 5:30 and pitch dark in the desert after this day of contrasts. A few birds chirp and a coyote yips. I wonder if my internal clock will simply adjust to the dark as my eyelids get heavy. Sweet dreams!