Hauser Creek to Cibbetts Flat Campground
I have all these things I meant to write but it’s the end of the day and I’m just a muddle of exhaustion. A muddle puddle of tired tired tired.
I wake up to easy morning light, J next to me. All around us are beautiful little campspots, but it seems like J and I managed to pick the ugliest one. The only flat spot on it was infested with the biggest ants I’ve ever seen (and I lived in the Amazon for two years) so we set up on the steep side. We’re a couple feet from where we started last night. I feel – cautiously optimistic. I rebandage my blisters and it’s time to go.
We’re meeting Lydia at Lake Morena at 10 – she’s going to hike with us to Cibbetts Flat campground where her husband will pick her up. This just means we’ve got five miles to Lake Morena by ten, so we pull up our hiker pants and start the long uphill out of Hauser creek. The downhill yesterday gave me trouble, and I’ve never been so relieved at a long uphill stretch in my life.
We’re cruising this morning, and as soon as we walk into the Lake Morena campground, Lydia pulls up. “Found ya!” For just one day of hiking behind us, we’re kind of a mess. Tired, blistered, and walking with a special mincing sort of step.
Lydia’s a runner, someone who truly loves it, and her legs are tan and powerful in her running shorts. She sets the pace for us today – an easy, jaunty stroll that slow and steady eats up the miles. J and I limp behind.
The day follows the same pattern as yesterday – the first five miles are hard but fun, the second five are hard, and the last five take incredible powers of concentration for every step. But we’re not stopping at 15 miles today, we’re going 18 and a half. By golly if Lydia didn’t get me there. The trail angle Glide On is at the campground, waiting for PCT hikers to feed and advise, and boiled fresh corn and chicken never went down so easy. “There’s always something to learn,” says the whitebeard. “Just when you think you’ve finally earned your PCT degree, she’ll take it back and smack you in the face. Just take it easy and keep walking.” Sounds like good advice. But the full attention of one man, focused on us, feels like too much to bear. It seems like he is looking for something out of his thru-hikers, and I have nothing to give. I’m beat.
We’re still in Steinbeck country, here in Cibbetts Flat, and we curl up for bed underneath a giant oak and stars. Only ten miles tomorrow – I’m feeling pretty defeated tonight – but every day is another day, one mile at a time.