19.7 miles hiked
Okay, I need to get to town. Running low on food and everything is covered in a combo of olive oil and pepperoni juice. Gross. I down a protein shake and a bar, get on trail a bit after 6. Let’s do this!
The uphill is not so bad. I see the couple on a ridge a mile or two up, their campsite WAS windy, so I guess a good decision to stay in the cabin? I get to the “Private Zoo”, it’s super sad. The tiger is hiding from the hiker paparazzi, the grizzlies are pacing endlessly in their cages, I don’t see the lion at all. Why is this even here.
Okay, almost at Onyx summit. I get there, I think? Where’s the legendary couch? I keep going, then check Guthook. Yep, already passed it. The couch is a mile further with a giant dumpster holding trail magic cookies! I decide to eat one despite the wheat. About 15 minutes later my stomach is cramping pretty bad, I have my first trail poop which is pretty awesome, win/lose? Very excited as the ground was super easy to dig a hole in. Ok, now let’s mash the downhill.
I start grinding it man, going more than 3 mph! Even running at times, there is no time for stopping. I pass other hikers. I see Dustin getting water at a stream, see ya in town! There’s a wide open area, it’s sunny but I don’t put up the umbrella, the air is cool and windy and I feel fine in my dress. Plus! No time….to lose!
I take a little break about 4.5 miles from the end where there’s the last of the uphills. Dustin has caught up, I go probably half as fast uphill as downhill. Oh well. He was camped a couple miles ahead of me last night, I’m definitely making good time. I eat the last of my food- some olive oil- see ya at the road!
I slog it and then there’s some unexpected easier grade and then downhill- did I read the elevation chart wrong? Oh well, let’s get to the road! I get there around 1:30, woot! 20 miles already, what! I see Dustin off to the side with a cluster of hikers, there is a woman who just quit the trail and is giving rides to hikers. He got me a ride already, yay!
“I told her you were like 15-20 minutes back, you were right behind me! You must have been flying on that downhill.” Yay! What is this trail where a 20 is a nearo.
We all load our packs in and get dropped off at the post office. Dustin and I want to stay at the hostel as it’s centrally located. We head over, see a sign to call Sarge. Dustin phones him.
“Yeaaahhh, see we actually are closed for the day. Star Wars, you know?” Riiiiight.
“I like how he says that as it’s the most normal thing in the world,” Dustin says. “It’s not even May 4th.”
Sarge says he will send us a list of other places to stay but we end up never getting it. I meanwhile negotiate a rate for $75/night including tax/2 beds at the Vintage Inn a couple blocks away. It’s pretty deserted, but has another entertaining proprietor. He’s wearing a crazy skater ballcap and a sweat-shirt that says, “My patronus is STITCH!!!!”
Super random guy, he likes to keep talking. I try to keep him on our good side as we are actually sneaking a third guy we met at the hostel, a Polish dude named Lester, into the room to lower the price. Lester is off trying to get a smaller pack to replace his, definitely the largest one I’ve seen. At least 90L in that thing. He said he started off with 80lbs down by Campo, he had a month’s worth of food, and his wife just shipped him another 20lbs. He has a giant hunting knife, all sorts of canned food, like 8 pairs of socks and all sorts of clothes, a giant first aid kit, the kind with a big red bag that you see in large public areas. He goes to buy a smaller pack with less suspension, but puts almost all the same weight into it, as well as a new rain jacket and other supplies he bought.
I want to help shake him down but he is not super receptive and also kinda ADD. When he steps out I ask Dustin why everyone we meet in this town is batty.
Well, I need food, so after a shower I’m off to the Thai place, that I read an ad that they offered 2 for 1 entrees for hikers. I get there and the waiter looks reaaaaally not Thai. The menu is so-so Thai, sort of pan-Asian. He puts sauces on the table that makes me suspicious- Sriracha, yes; but also soy sauce and sweet and sour sauce instead of the normal chili accompaniments. I place an order for pineapple fried rice, they don’t do the 2 for 1 anymore (that was like 2 years ago, he sighs) but he’ll give me 20% off. That’s super nice! The food comes out and it’s basically a biriyani, which I don’t actually mind as I’m still a little nauseous and it’s not oily. I am PRETTY durn sure I hear Nepali music in the kitchen underneath the restaurant’s smooth jazz. I ask the waiter where he’s from: he’s a Gurkha from Nepal. Wow. He moved here after the earthquakes in 2015. I chat with him for a bit about volunteering and travelling there that year. His friend is in the store, he tells him I’ve been to Nepal. Crazy.
I head back to the hotel and laze around while Lester keeps Dustin and me entertained over a bottle of wine and his slightly schizoid stream-of-consciousness chatting. I hardly work on my blog, then it’s time for me to pass out. My stomach is still weird, what’s up? Ugh.
About 10 minutes after lights out Lester begins snoring, one of the loudest I’ve heard. I am hoping it will stop after a bit as it does for many, but it’s not to be. I need sleep, F that. Luckily the bathroom is huge, and slightly sound-proof! I get all the sheets from the bed, stuff TP into the one ear not on the pillow, and actually have the best sleep since hitting the trail.