Fun vocab: a zero is a day where you don’t hike at all.
I woke at dawn in the sofa bed and got up and cranked the heat. I had a fleece blanket wrapped around me, and I wore it like a cloak as I made eggs and kale. I’d been so cold the day before; I never wanted to be cold again. After a while Angela got up and we sat in the light from the window, eating breakfast and quietly running errands on our phones. It was raining hard outside and the world was grey; we’d been lucky. We had made it over the mountains just before the storm, and now it was the perfect day for this zero in a warm cabin in a little mountain town.
I wrote a million emails and paid some bills, trying frantically to deal with the real-world business that piles up when you’re away. I didn’t want to write emails, I didn’t want to do internet errands. Everything felt so far away; I just wanted to think about hiking. But what can you do.
The heat pumped merrily from the wall heater. I moved to the recliner by the fireplace, blanket still wrapped around me, and put my ankle up on a little baggie of ice. I could hear the rain outside. I was so happy I almost couldn’t stand it.
Ben and Thyra got up and we went on a family field trip across the street to the post office, limping on our sore feet in the cold drizzle. I had my frogg toggs rain jacket on, it was the first time since I’d gotten it in the mail that I’d unfolded it from its little square. Frogg toggs are these super cheap rain jackets you can buy. They’re lighter than any other rain jacket and they feel as though they’re made of paper. Once I opened it I discovered that mine was huge. It was like a tent on me and I felt ridiculous, walking past all the other thru hikers at the pizza shop.
Stop feeling ridiculous, I thought. Nobody cares.
At the post office I finally got to send the stack of postcards I’d been writing for the past few weeks! If I owe you a postcard, expect it soon! And if you want a postcard from me, click the tab at the top of this page.
We picked up our resupply boxes at the little post office (welcome to Idyllwild! Said the ladies working there. Sign our trail register?) and hauled them back to the cabin and spread our loot on every available surface. Then we began the long chore of sorting our goods and objects before the next hundred mile stretch of our epic overland journey.
I made a lot of vegetables and ate them. I ate the chicken salad and the apples and the chocolate pudding. Thyra and Ben ate more pizza, and brought home a giant cinnamon roll. I ate some of the cinnamon roll, some reeses pieces, and a bunch of Angela’s ritz bitz sandwiches. I spaced out for a while, curled up in the recliner in my fleece blanket.
Angela and I walked in the rain to the thrift store. Angela needed a new desert shirt. She had started the hike with a white button-down shirt made of cotton, but the cotton had been cold and damp. At kickoff, in a hiker box, she’d scored a shirt made of blue silk. We’d hiked across the desert and the silk, faced with sun and wind and salt and friction, had disintegrated in a hilarious way. Now Angela had nothing but this shredded and faded blue silk shirt that looked, as Ben put it, as though she had dug it up from a river bed.
We were looking for a cotton-poly blend button-down shirt, because those are cheap and good for the desert.
The thrift store was a ways down the highway, in a little log building called the “help center”. Inside people poked around in the corners, talking quickly. We rifled through the racks of shirts, but the only thing we found that could work was a giant polyester leopard-print blouse. Angela put it on and it hung off of her like a tent. You could see light through it.
“Well,” said Angela, “I guess this will have to work.”
We also found a white dress with bright flowers and a green silk skirt.
“Let’s get these too!” We said. “We can wear them with dinner.”
For dinner we made the gluten-free pasta from my resupply box with vegetables and roast chicken from the dirty little grocery store. Thyra put on the white dress and Ben wore the giant leapord print shirt. After dinner we made a fire in the fireplace and opened the door that led from our cabin to the next, where some other hikers were staying. They came over and parked on the sofa and we all hung out, talking about blisters.
One of the hikers was Lionheart. This was her second time hiking the PCT. She had a bit of floss threaded through her heel blister.
“You just thread the floss through with a needle,” she said, “and leave it there. It keeps it draining and then it heals as a callous.”
I wanted to ask Lionheart about so many things, but I was too tired. I just laid in the recliner with my blanket wrapped around me and listened to everyone talk.
Angela burned her silk shirt in the fire, to symbolize the end of her first stretch on the PCT. Instead of burning, the shirt melted onto the logs, but then it dissapeared.
I took a bath. It was too hot but I made myself stay in it. When I got out of the bath people were still up, smoking a joint next to the fire. I felt irritated and sort of crowded.
“I want to go to sleep,” I said. Hikers are nice people, and they dissapeared to their cabin. I pulled out the sofa bed and slept.