Well, how did 30 begin? I woke up to sunrise.
I got out of my sleeping bag slowly, surrounded by my mostly still sleeping new friends (family?). I went to grab my food bag, but somehow, it was stuck in the tree. Well. 30 was presenting me with my first challenge already, it seemed. I tried to throw a rock at the bag, but my hand-eye coordination has never been great. I eventually found a small dead tree and poked the bag. It fell down immediately. Success! I told my friends at the shelter about my issues.
“Well, you did have a perfect birthday, so you can’t expect today to be without challenges,” Stormtrooper said.
“That’s true,” I replied. “And I killed it.”
“You sticked it.” Well…it was hilarious to us.
We ate breakfast together, and then started heading out, one by one.
We only had 19 miles to the shelter, and the trail was mostly easy. We were all highly motivated by pizza.
I stopped for lunch with Brew, RD (red dragon), and storm trooper. Danger stopped by for a second, but hiked on.
I hit this gorgeous meadow. It smelled like an expensive home furnishings store, like hay and flowers and linens. It was incredible. The grass was almost up to my head. The sun was bright and I knew my friends were in front and behind me and my legs were strong and my pack was light.
I got to a bridge and smelled…something like middle school. What was it…lilac! Like bath and body works! Lilac was growing everywhere along the banks of this stream. Brew and stormtrooper caught up as I was smelling the flowers.
“We going swimming?” One of the guys asked.
“…yeah.” We stripped off our packs and shoes and piled into the swift, cold water, squealing as we ducked under. It was freezing, but dunking my head under felt amazing. We scrambled out and I unrolled my sleeping pad so we could dry off in the sun.
Brew toweled off and left first, but stormtrooper and I sat around for a while, enjoying the sun and the laziness. A man stopped, asking if we needed a ride anywhere. We told him thanks, but no. Eventually, mostly dry, we got ready to hike again.
The last few miles slipped by. Uncle mike, my shuttle driver, had told me they would be quick, and he was right. I caught up to brew and used his quick pace as my pace, getting in to Partnership shelter before 4pm. It was packed, so we had to tent. We set up our little tent family to the side, glad to be away from the party atmosphere at the shelter.
I tried to take this picture but evidently I didn’t stop walking quite long enough.
Brew set a fierce pace on the sweet, flat trail.
We ordered the pizza and sat around the visitors center in the sun, talking and watching a weird older couple fight about ordering food.
Finally, finally, the pizza came. Danger and I were on pizza duty. And ranch pickup duty. Brew is a serious ranch addict.
We devoured 4 pizzas. I ate about 5 or 6 slices myself. Stormtrooper dubbed me worthy of thruhiker hunger.
While we ate, though, the group gave me my new trail name. It was between mouse car and birthday girl. Another hiker had already called me birthday girl, and we all liked the implication of always telling people I’m birthday girl, so that’s what we decided on. I’m officially birthday girl now. This was the celebratory piece of pizza after I was officially named:
I’m going to miss them so much.
We built a fire back at our tent city, and sat around laughing. We took group pictures (brew has the serious group picture, so I’ll have to get that from him later).
It’s been two days with my trail family. They gave me a name, they spent my birthday with me, and now I have to leave. Maybe I’ll see them in August though. I’m going to miss them so much. They are all so amazing.
I’ve never been more tempted to just keep walking.