Friday, May 6, 2016

Cajon Pass: Hello...trail? Are you there?

     My feet step down- one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. I feel the bones in my feet grinding together, the third blister on my heel pushing against the shoe wall, my big toe wrapped in med-tape flattening under the weight of my body. To stave off the boredom, I change my stride from long to short, move from the balls of my feet to heel, scrunch up my toes and then stretch them out making sure I haven't caused them to shrivel up and fall off.
     I look up and am able to find the demarcation of the trail along the next hillside. I am able to tell if my ankles will be tilted at an odd angle and if I need to tighten my waist strap so that my shoulders won't throb as much on the downhill. When I step in holes, my ankle twists until I give in and fall under the weight of my pack. Rather than a broken ankle, I instead trade the skin peeled from my palms and knees, calves and elbows. I leave it there as a sacrifice. Let me make it off this mountain, I plead. Melissa always looks back at the commotion, gasps, sees me lying on the ground laughing, unable to get up. "I have to pee soo bad! I was looking for a bush when I fell."
     When we see the dark mass of clouds over the mountains, we sit in the sand and watch them tumble above until we get tired of sitting and decide that getting wet isn't such a bad thing- if only it weren't so windy.
     We hike eighteen miles and then sixteen the next morning, just to get to the McDonald's and a convenience store before the heat of the afternoon. During the nights, I dream about creatures unzipping my tent and places I'll be in the future, always unshowered and carrying my backpack.
     For the last two days I've been munching on what I refer to as my "leftover snacks" which means dried fruit, nutella on tortillas and beef jerky we acquired from a hiker box that doesn't taste like anything, but gives you something to chew on.
     When I take a shower, the water runs brown down the drain. I scrub at my body, at the calluses harboring all of the hidden dirt that makes me look tanner than I am.   
I open the door, jump onto the bed towards Melissa. She spreads her eyes wide, her face stretched in a grin. "This is the happiest I've ever been!" We both laugh as the TV freezes on Sandra Bullock bouncing onto a hotel bed and we sip at our Coors Lite. When we lay in the bed long enough, it's like we haven't walked and walked and walked, yet we still think about going back out there, away from the roaring overpasses and trash covered shoulders- back to sunburn and dirt caked fingers, to complaining about the never ending aches and coming up with snarky comments that maybe one day we'll be able to use on unsuspecting passer-bys.