Zero in Idyllwild
It’s weird to wake up in a house. My face is smushed into the white fluffy pillow and my body is covered in a white fluffy comforter. I’m clean. I’m also drooling, so at least some stuff is constant.
I idle in “bed” for a while working on my blog. I’m a few days behind actually writing entries – I’ve got my notes but haven’t written a full post in a few days – and it’s kind of overwhelming to think about cranking out so many words. I feel like I forget everything. Everyone knows it’s hard to keep up a blog on trail, but I love it so much and I really want to keep writing. I could write shorter entries, I know. I could. Anyway.
I rack my brain and look at my notes and my Guthooks map app to try to remember day 10. Day 10, day 10. What the heck happened six days ago. I write the post but I’m not so happy with it. It’s also weird because I don’t want to write EVERYTHING here – it’s tacky to write negatively about other people on the trail, to be completely honest – so sometimes the things that take up a lot of brain space in a day aren’t suitable to write about. This is a good exercise in a writing practice as well as a hiking practice. Figures that I’ve given myself two tasks on my long walk to Canada – be a hiker AND be a writer. I’m trying.
At 9am Cate wanders into the bedroom and seems happy to find me awake. She tells me the guys are going to drive us into town and then they’re going to the lake for the day, so we should move quickly. They’ve been generous with their time and we shouldn’t hold them up too much.
I use the bathroom (flush toilet! Luxurious!) and get dressed. Cate has folded my laundry like an angel so I quickly gather my things and repack my bag reasonably well. I still have so much fucking food in my food bag – 6 lbs at least. Just 6 lbs I casually carried for fun I guess through several 90+ degree days in the desert. You’re an idiot, Self, I think. Pack out less food this time. Promise? You better promise.
Then we’re all clambering into the truck and heading to town. I ride in the back with Mike and Cate and our bags. It’s hilarious how quickly 13 miles go by when you’re not walking them. I’m thrilled to have skipped the alternate route; I feel no guilt at all.
The guys drop us in the center of town; they wish us luck and head off to the lake. And now here we are, in Idyllwild! With every other hiker on the trail, it seems. It’s nice to see everyone but also overwhelming. We all immediately run into people we want to chat with – Hobo and Caddy, Larry and Amanda, Tori (who is now going by Dos Tacos) and Tim, Amy who is now Blossom…it takes a little bit to get to our room at Silver Pines Lodge. But we finally do and it’s awesome. We’re able to check in super early and there is a queen bed for Mike and Cate and a trundle bed situation for me and Lynn and a bathroom and a window and it’s perfect. I hop on the wi-fi and publish my Day 10 blog post and then I get started on chores. Oh, town chores.
First up, gear shop. I ask about the weather and buy a new pair of lightweight breathable hiking shorts to try to mitigate the never ending butt chafe issue. I also buy a brand new Body Glide. Maybe this will help. According to the intel from the gear shop dudes, it seems like I can bounce my ice axe to Kennedy Meadows for sure, and my crampons also. I’ll keep my microspikes, though the guy at the store isn’t convinced I’ll need them. I’m overwhelmed by the map and the routes to get out of Idyllwild. I wish thru-hiking wasn’t such a logistical nightmare sometimes. I listen to the guy’s suggestions and take a photo of the big map in the store. I’ll think about it later.
I realize it’s noon and I haven’t eaten anything yet today, so I ask Cate and Mike and Lynn if they wanna get food. Lynn wants Mexican and Cate and Mike are gonna eat trail food to conserve their budget for a movie and beer later but I’m dying for eggs. I am feeling sort of sad. Alley and I had talked about her visiting me in Idyllwild, even checked in about it yesterday morning because flights weren’t too bad, but it just seemed not right. The flight was still not cheap, I’d already said I would share a room with my friends, I have so many town chores to do, it’s only been 2 weeks. But I suddenly miss her so much and am annoyed at myself for not asking her to come. I wish I could just lie in bed and have her hold me. Fuck.
I part ways with Lynn and Cate and Mike in search of eggs at the Red Kettle. I text with Toby, who is also staying at the lodge we are, and he says he’ll meet me. I try to perk up.
The restaurant does indeed serve eggs all day and I’m happy about that. I sit down and order eggs florentine and a side of sausage and decide to accept any consequences town food wreaks on my belly. I work on a blog post while I wait for Toby and then I get a text from him that his feet are in bad shape and he’s gonna pass on meeting me if that’s okay. Of course it’s okay, but it adds to my dramatic lonely feelings.
I think I expected to feel overjoyed and safe and perfect when I met back up with Cate and Mike and Lynn but I still feel unstable. I don’t know what their plan is, there are so many options, what will we all do, can I even make it to Canada, how will I do the Sierra if I’m all by myself? I miss home and I miss my friends and I miss my girlfriend and I’m crying at a table by myself at the Red Kettle in Idyllwild. Oh boy.
I indulge my sadness for a little bit and text Alley and Toby and write the above paragraphs but then I try to snap out of it. I have to go to the post office. I have to back flush my water filter. I should soak my feet. I don’t have time to cry at this table all day.
Getting up and walking around is good. I put on my sunglasses and head to the post office. I am picking up three boxes and a letter, I think. They do not have my letter. I feel certain that someone – a person who reads my blog? An Instagram commenter? – has said they have sent me a letter to Idyllwild. I even have a note in my phone reminding me to ask for it and noting that there was a big VF on the back. The woman at the post office is certain this letter does not exist. I try to find the original note about it on my phone but I can’t remember where that is. There’s a long line and I feel embarrassed to be a difficult customer, so I eventually give up and take my three boxes off to the side. I’m bummed that someone potentially put effort into sending me something sweet that I’m not going to receive. Or am I insane and this letter never existed? I’m not sure.
I need to bounce my ice axe and my crampons to Kennedy Meadows. When you pick a box up at the post office, if you don’t open it, you can bounce it to another post office destination for free! That’s a pro-tip from the thru-hiker world, you’re welcome. Anyway lucky for me my resupply person, Susie, is a genius, and has packaged my ice axe and my crampons in the same box. So I keep it closed and bounce it ahead. I open my other two boxes and am thrilled: Susie has added goodies to the box I packed myself with microspikes and maps and dried veggies – she included a card and some bars and more jerky and some sweets – and my mom has sent me a box with Gatorade powder and five Good to Go meals! My cooking situation is about to get 1000x better – I can just boil water and add it directly to these meal bags! No more washing my pot! I am gonna be living the luxurious life! I call Susie once I’m outside the post office to go over some logistical things and she’s amazing per always, listens to me and hears me feeling sad, offers sage advice, cheers me up. I’m so lucky to have such a good support system at home. I am grateful.
After the post office I head back to our room where my three friends are hanging out. I try to be upbeat and cheerful but Lynn asks if I’m okay and suddenly I’m crying on my bed. All three of them are bewildered; what’s wrong? I hiccup my way through an explanation: “I just feel so lonely and confused about what to do…and I miss Alley…and I really wanted eggs this morning but you all wanted Mexican which was fine but then I got to the Red Kettle and I was all by myself and I was so sad…but you guys, the eggs were really good!” I sound nuts and I know it; Cate bursts out laughing. Soon I’m laughing too. I just have so many feelings and somehow being on the trail heightens every single one! “Scissors, you have so many highs and lows,” Cate says. “You are like all mountains and valleys! There’s no middle ground. Everything is either amazing or horrible.” I laugh hard at this, because I know if Alley could hear her she’d be nodding her head so hard. Cate’s comments aren’t mean and they don’t make me feel bad – she’s right. I feel things so hard. Nevermind my physical capabilities – my poor heart may not make it through this journey!
Later Toby – now Apple Juice – texts me to see if I want to get pizza and I do. We end up at a fancy place with fairy lights and live music and joke that it feels like we’re on a date. Our conversation is so refreshing – he is hiking out tomorrow and I’m sad. I feel sort of rejuvenated after my day off today – should I have only planned to take one zero in Idyllwild? There’s talk of a storm rolling in and he’s aiming to get out and over Fuller Ridge, the path the trail takes and a spot one would not want to be in a storm, before the weather arrives. He’s faster than me and hiking on a stricter timeline; if he lives tomorrow and I wait until the next day, it’s probable I won’t see him again. I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to structure my hike, when I should do what, how much I should let others’ plans affect my own. Sigh.
After dinner Apple Juice heads back to his room to care for his blisters and get ready to leave in the morning. I run into Lionheart on my way back to the lodge and I hang out with her for awhile; she’s also hiking out with a big group tomorrow, to avoid the storm. That means I’ll probably lose her, too. Should I have also planned to leave tomorrow? What will the storm be like? How far behind will my group fall? What does that even mean? What would make me feel less lonely? Why isn’t Alley here?
Fuck. Being in town is good rest for my body, but not great rest for my anxiety brain, it turns out. Eventually I say goodnight to Lionheart and head back to my room at the lodge. Mike and Cate are sleeping already and Lynn is still up watching a movie. I crawl into my bed (a real bed!) and have trouble falling asleep, second guessing every choice I’ve ever made.