Nance Canyon - Shady Grove tentsite?
I wake up with the others at dawn and feel like efficiency is almost within my reach! I walk alone as I still am relatively slow in the morning. There is an extremely eroded portion of trail that really needs shoring up or stone steps and I wonder how the PCTA organizes its trail work. It's a small portion, though. It shapes up to be another hot day and I entertain myself very briefly with NPR on the radio before I lose it to static and entertain myself by wondering what I should do if a rattlesnake actually bites me. I have been playing with fire and keeping both earbuds in, which is just stupid. I need to be listening for rattles, however I do seem to be seeing the least amount of snakes out of everyone. Thinking about all of this while still leaving both ears blocked makes me very jumpy and several times I startle at birds or branches touching me. Thankfully my ipod dies and the problem is resolved for me.
I am hiker number 184 to sign in at the water cache and I wonder how many ahead of me failed to sign it, and how many are behind. I know there is a whole herd behind me. I would like to stay ahead of most of the crowd.
I bump into Walking Stick and the Mariner and greet them abruptly and walk away. This is the second time I have done this. My one excuse is that I withdraw deep within myself some days when I walk, and the sudden interaction, the exchanging of pleasantries... sometimes it's like surfacing after diving into deep water and I sputter and flail. So as I walk away the things I really want to say finally surface and I regret sounding so aloof. In order to remedy that I leave an encouraging note on a discarded map page for them. Walking Stick and Mariner are a father/son duo (which I find incredible and inspiring) and today Mariner has been struggling, energy-wise (he did a big 20+ day yesterday, so it's understandable!). They are very kind people. I walk on feeling glad I made a small gesture.
I reach the Paradise Cafe in Anza, getting a ride for the one mile side trip with Tom, a trail angel located further down the trail in Kennedy Meadows. We hang out for hours. It's wonderful. The beer I drank may have contributed to me not recalling where we ended up camping for the night.... all I know is that I let the cousins push on ahead, and we all met up in these incredible boulder field that Dr. Seuss would have enjoyed. I soaked my feet briefly in a seasonal slow moving water source (I feel very unapologetic about this because it was a lousy puddle and if you didn't treat it you'd be out of your mind) and then we wound up at a campsite called Shady something. The moon is waxing and we did some lazy yoga on thick cushions of leaf litter before giving up, sharing damson plum jelly as a dessert, and sleeping right beside the trail, seeking the shadows of trees to give us more darkness for the night.