Monday, May 30, 2016

Camping Under a Tree to Playing at Being Sardines: I Don't Want A Trail Name Because I Like How the Aussies Say My Real Name Too Much

     Last night it seemed as if the sun would never set. I looked around, listening to the murmurs and laughter of the two men camped nearby. Bored, I walked around the tree to where they were sitting and sat down across from them. "Well, hello there," J said. After a half hour, Butters went and got his Captain Morgan and passed it around and as we sat there sharing stories, J told us how he had Giardia and when he told someone about it, they gave him the rest of their antibiotics and a weeks worth of the Mountain Men dehydrated meals plus desserts. I gasped. "Apple cobbler!" He nodded, "Yeah, you wanna try it?" I shrugged, "Well I don't want to eat all your dessert." When he assured me he had been wanting to share it with someone because of its size, I ran and got my water and spoon while he set up his stove. As we passed it around, we laughed at the moans of pleasure escaping our mouths. When the apple cobbler was gone, we all went back to our sleeping bags and crawled in, full and warm.
     The next morning I awoke to J stuffing his sleeping bag into his backpack and crossing the clearing back to the trail. I ate a couple handfuls of my Shredded Wheats, braided my hair and started stuffing all of my dry sacks back into my bag.
     I got back on the trail and immediately started climbing back up to 6,500ft. When I neared the top, the trees opened up to a long mountainous field with rows of wind turbines. The trail scooted around them and snaked along the side of the surrounding mountains.
     Six miles in, I reached the first spring which was an algae filled trough with a drizzle of water coming from a small pipe above it. The line of men was eight deep and I stood behind them, listening to their banter and raucous bouts of laughter. I filtered two litres of water into my Camelback and then packed away two more in my platypus bag, knowing that the next water source was 19.8 miles away.
     Two miles out of the spring, the back of my pants began to grow cold. I felt underneath my bag and noticed the water dripping from it. I stopped, pulled my Camelback out and saw the amount of water it had leaked. Three litres. Three litres I had left for 18 miles in the heat of the day through a burn zone. Awesome, I thought. Awesome.
     I walked, stood and hunched, walked some more. I made it seven miles, twelve, seventeen. I stopped when my shirt stuck to my skin with salt and sweat. I laid out my sleeping bag to dry in the sun and I took a nap under a pine tree, up above the trail so hikers passing by wouldn't see me. I waited until it got cooler, walked 3.5 more miles, uphill. I rationed my litre of water. At the top of the hill, I drank a half litre and ate a Snickers bar. After five more miles I drank my other half litre. I talked to myself as it grew darker. I'd never gone 25 miles in a day, but I talked myself into it. I hit the 600 mile mark, I pulled out my camera slowly. I told myself, You have to take a picture. You've walked 600 miles. You need documentation for yourself. Only 2,000 left.
     The sun set, and I walked onto the side trail where the spring was. I came around the corner and there, surrounding a small pipe in the ground were tents and sleeping bags and people. A ton of hikers. I filtered some water, drank all I could and asked another hiker, Tracker, whether there was room at the top of the hill where all the guys were. He told me he was sure they could fit me in somewhere. I pulled my bag back on and walked up the hill and sat on one side of the circle of men sitting in the dirt eating dinner. I pulled out my stove and cooked my pasta, listened to them discuss songs they would hear on the radio as they hiked. Patrick said, "There's one that plays over and over that says something about it being a sad song. It just says it's a sad song." Fruit Cup looked over, "That's Mike Posner. I Took A Pill In Ibiza." Patrick looked at him, "Oh, no. I don't think that's it. I haven't heard anything about Ibiza." Fruit Cup smiled. "I'll bet you a litre of filtered water it is." As I ate, they debated until Fruit Cup found someone that had the song on their phone. Patrick nodded. "Yep. That's it. But I don't think it should count because I never heard that Ibiza line." When everyone was done eating, we all went to our respective places, blowing up our sleeping pads, brushing teeth and sliding into our sleeping bags. When I sat up, looked around, all I could think was that we were all sardines in a can, packed in nice and neat, side by side and in the morning, still in my sleeping bag, I heard Fruit Cup ask Patrick. "Is this my litre then?"