April 29, 2021
We woke up around 5:30am, made coffee, and started getting our stuff around. I was stressed about when to book my flight out of Las Vegas because I didn’t know how many days I could stay there and with whom. But I talked with Hi-Ho and Fireworm at breakfast, and they admitted they’d never been to Vegas and were really looking forward to it, and if I wanted, I was more than welcome to share a hotel room with them and stay for a couple days! They wanted to stay right on the strip so having an extra person to share the cost of a resort hotel would really help them out, plus we’d get to have a fun girls’ weekend in Vegas! How could I say no to that!? We decided Monday would be the best departure date both for my flight and for their bus ride home. There, all problems solved! Now I can just focus on enjoying the last leg of this hike.
After a big breakfast, I splurged on a t-shirt at the gift shop, and then we were off. The trail leading away from Jacob Lake was nice and shaded, mostly flat and slightly winding, and very smooth. Part of it was a dirt road walk, but that was okay. It feels so strange to be so close to the end. It’s also been very sunny and warm, with absolutely no trace of all the snow and rain we dealt with. I mean, did that even happen? Did we really hike in the snow in the deep dark of night and find a dry, empty shed to sleep in, with power and a damn space heater!? Surreal.
At mile 761.7 we came to a crossroads where the trail was closed due to a recent burn. The alternate trail was kind of long, but there was a dirt road that butted right up against the burn area, so we decided to hike that instead. As we were debating, several of our hiker friends caught up to us, so we all walked the road together. It still crossed into a lot of the burned area, which was weird and kind of ethereal. But the road was flat and it was an easy walk, and it was fun to chat with other hikers while hiking.
By the time we reached the turnoff to the water source at 5:00pm, Ghosthiker and I were alone again. We bushwhacked to the water source and filtered our water, expecting to see other hikers arriving, but we never did. We’d all roughly planned to camp together our last night on trail, and I had been afraid we’d all miss each other at the turnoff to the water source, which is exactly what happened. We wandered around for a while, even hiked on a ways, but we never saw them and it was getting dark. I wanted to keep looking, but Ghosthiker was tired, so we found somewhere relatively flat and threw down our packs.
I was pretty upset. I really wanted to camp with all our friends. I could tell Ghosthiker wanted to as well, but like I said, she is more of a solitary hiker and so I don’t think it mattered as much to her as it did to me. I think my emotions were also pretty fried from the last couple of days and from being so close to finishing.
I stayed quiet while we set up our tents. I know Ghosthiker could tell I was upset. She kept saying she feels bad that I’m missing out on camping with the others. I didn’t say it, but she was absolutely right. I was extremely upset, but it seemed like a silly thing to be mad about so I just kept quiet. I don’t typically suffer from FOMO and I tend to struggle with social anxiety more often than not, but the idea of camping with our friends and maybe having a small campfire sounded really nice. And there I was, sitting alone in my tent as usual, not upset with anyone in particular but upset nonetheless. It was the first time I really cried during this entire hike. My emotions were just shot. I didn’t eat anything for dinner.
And to top it off, our tent sight is full of tiny rocks and pokers. I hope my brand new (well, pretty used at this point) air mattress doesn’t get popped in the night. That would be the worst.