April 4, 2018
I woke early the next morning with Nightingale and Guy and we hiked out well before I saw any movement coming from the tent beside mine. Hoping that maybe this time we’d lose him, I was a little frustrated by how slow we moved that day. My feet were feeling better and I was anxious to make miles, but I still didn’t quite understand how this social hiking thing worked and so, despite the plans I’d hatched last night, I was still under the impression that I should stick with my newfound group.
Between Nightingale having some slight knee pain (which she didn’t speak of until I asked her a few seperate times if she was alright) and Guy’s chronic hip, knee, foot, and back pain (which he mentioned quite frequently; why he was out there hiking with a 45 lb pack, I’m still not sure), I think we only covered about 12 miles that day.
We stopped briefly at Mike’s Place. Mike wasn’t there but a few guys who were running the place for him gave us a big bowl of freshly sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper (yum!!), some raw carrots fresh out of the garden just like the tomatoes, and some freshly home-made tortillas to take with us! While we were there, the Cling-On and a bunch of other hikers arrived. Again, I hoped he was sticking with them and not trying to catch up to me. He was hiking in fashion boots and so his feet were covered in blisters, which got all manner of attention and doctoring from Nightingale. I mean, they looked painful, but hadn’t he hiked this trail before? Didn’t he know better than to be hiking in shoes like that? I’ll never know. Ghosthiker and her hiking partner arrived shortly before we hiked on, so I didn’t get to talk with them or meet her friend.
When we reached our intended camp for the night, I set up my tent in a secluded spot with Nightingale, leaving no possible way for anyone else to pitch near me, and watched anxiously to see if the Cling-On would catch up to us again. Nightingale seemed very pleased that we two girls had a little campsite all to ourselves, but that Guy was just on the other side of some thick manzanita trees so we could still talk to him if we needed to.
While setting up my tent I saw something on the ground that looked like a very tiny hot dog. I bent to take a closer look and called Nightingale and Guy over to see what I had found. It was a tiny bit of plastic with a fair bit of Leukotape carefully wrapped around it! Someone had obviously dropped it.
“Oh, that’s perfect! Just what I need!” Guy said, picking it up and putting it his pocket.
Nightingale seemed to think I should have had first dibs since I found it.
“It’s ok,” I said, “I don’t need it.”
I actually agreed with her, but it was true. I didn’t need it. I was hauling around a whole roll of Leukotape I’d just bought at Two Foot Adventures.
Being secluded, Nightingale and I enjoyed our dinner together and chatted about our new trail life. She had lost both of her dogs to old age and illness shortly after starting the trail and was struggling quite a bit. I told her I understood her pain completely and really admired her strength. If anything were to happen to Zoe while I was out on the trail, that would be the end of my hike. I’d be on the next flight back to Indiana without question. Nightingale said she’d considered quitting when she heard about the second dog’s passing, but she thought maybe hiking would be a healthier way to grieve. I could see the wisdom in that.
I slept restlessly that night, sure that the Cling-On would somehow have his tent pitched right next to mine when I awoke the next morning.