There was lightning last night, around 10pm. Seeing the white flashes made my heart pound, probably because of the lightning storm last year. There was no thunder or rain, though, so aside from the creature that kept waking me up as it circled us throughout the night, I managed to get some sleep. I’m up and ready to go by 7am. TnT are still enjoying camp, having coffee, doing chores. We agree to meet at the road the leads to Casa de Luna.
The trail is like a twisty sidewinder today; snaking around the hills in a never-ending “S”. I spend the morning in the shade and with the wind, it’s quite cold. I run into Phil at about 9 a.m. He’s making his way from Tehachapi Pass to Campo. We talk trail a bit, and agree that our days are made up of thinking, and work. I tell him about how some days, near the beginning, the heat from the dirt would reflect back up to my face and suffocate me like a Boa Constrictor wrapped around my head. “That’s just the trail giving you a big ol’ kiss,” he laughs.
I continue on. I climb the sidewinder, feeling weak. I have a headache. A runner and his dog pass me. I find some consistent sun around noon and decide to take a nap. Naps outside are fabulous, I don’t know why. I would think that threat of bugs would contradict this (and bugs are still why I don’t cowboy camp), but it doesn’t. I spread out my groundsheet, take off my shoes, lay down and put my floppy hat over my face. I’m hoping that the headache and fatigue can be solved with more sleep. I’m out almost instantly and nap for an hour.
Then it’s back on the sidewinder, which happens to be marvelously maintained for the next 6-8 miles. The grade is so gentle, so friendly, even as it travels ever upward. I feel a little better, even though I’m moving slow. It takes a few hours to get down to the road. I sit on the side of the road, and try to look busy on my phone when cars pass by, so they don’t think I need a ride. In actuality, I’m not getting any service, boo.
I hear tires on gravel and look up from my blank phone screen. A good-sized guy is getting out of the car. He asks if I’m hiking and if I want a ride to the Anderson’s (Casa de Luna). “I drive up and down the road all day looking for hikers to pick up,” he says. “Well, that sounds a little creepy when you put it that way,” I say. He has a good laugh at that and I like him instantly. Ninja Tank is his trail name, and he is helping out the Anderson’s for the day. I’m waiting on TnT, so Ninja Tank says he’ll come back around in about 15 minutes.
Then Tnt come out from the brush, N-Tank pulls up, and we are on our way to Casa de Luna. We park in front of a modest house that has stuff everywhere, all over the place. I don’t know where to look first. There are four couches making a square in the driveway, and a few men in Hawaiian shirts are sitting there, drinking PBR. As I open the trunk, they start slow clapping. I take a bow.
Casa de Luna is casual and comfortable; Hawaiian shirts are encouraged to “de-stress”. I’m handed a beer and Terry Anderson, the head bad ass of the house, comes out and gives each of us a hug. She is holing an envelope in her hand. “Now,” she said, “I want to get all of your opinions on this.” She hands the envelope to me. Inside is a letter:
I’m stunned. Someone sent this to her? Someone went through such effort to hurt a woman who has spent so much time, money and effort to support this thru hiking community. The gall. We all sit on the couches for a while and ponder who would do such a thing. “It’s the entitlement that’s sweeping its way across this community,” Terry opines. Personally, I don’t think this is a case of entitlement. I think this is a case of Asshole.
Some new people walk up, and I see the girl from yesterday whom I found unpleasant. I can see now that she is even younger than I thought, maybe even under 20. I decide to blame her rudeness on youth, and let go of my negative feelings. TnT wrangle a guy named Sasquatch into a ride to the nearest restaurant. He has a rental car that is so small, it’s like getting squished into a clown car. Ninja Tank meets us at the restaurant, and we all order food.
Sasquatch is very tall and thin. He seems to always be moving some part of his body, and I get the sense that he is full of non-stop thoughts. He’s extremely friendly. Ninja Tank is more quiet, but I think he astutely takes everything around him in.
The food comes, but I can’t eat. I feel like I’m burning up. I’m nauseous, and my headache comes back ten fold. I think I’m going to vomit. It’s almost exactly what I felt like after my 20 mile hiking day. I try to ride it out, but finally have to ask Ninja Tank to give me a ride back to Casa de Luna.
In N-Tank’s car, I tell him some of the struggles with boredom I’ve had on the trail. He says he had the same thing, and ended up listening to a lot of music and audio-books to get him through. He hiked some of the trail in 2013; the full trail in 2014. We trail gossip the rest of the way back. Thank you, Ninja Tank. I hope we meet again!
Back at camp, I feel like I’m going to miss night-time Casa de Luna shenanigans, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I travel back into the grove of Madrones in the back yard, where dozens of camp spots are hidden. It’s pretty neat that they have all this. I fall into my tent, willing myself not to throw up all over everything. The wind starts to howl, and it’s quite chilly tonight. I force my eyes closed; sleep, Amy, sleep. I do eventually sleep, but the sickness doesn’t recede until about 3am, the same time that the wind suddenly stops, replaced by a deep silence, and a bright white moon emerges to watch over Casa de Luna.