Hot Springs and moving pictures

Mile 274.6–Laughing Heart Lodge, Hot SpringsWednesday, April 10

I shouldn’t even be here. 😀

The plan was an easy 15, then a 3-mile nero into town on Thursday. But the morning was glorious, the trail was smooth, and I found myself on top of Bluff Mountain, the big climb of the day, at 11 AM. With 10 miles and change into Hot Springs. Where there would be cheeseburgers.

So… I called the hostel and reserved a bunk, and I committed, dammit. I committed. And with 20 bucks on the line now, I flew.

The trail stayed smooth, and I flew. It wasn’t easy, frankly. My sore knee screamed and groaned, and I probably didn’t do it any favors, but you know, “Listen to your body” is one of the worst pieces of advice you hear out here. Nobody’s body says, “Gee, let’s hike 16 miles in yet another cold downpour, carrying 30 pounds of sopping heavy gear up and down filthy muddy mountains in vomitous disgusting clothes, again!” The body, frankly, needs a little push sometimes. Maybe “Check in with your body” might be more useful.

Anyway. So I pushed! My feet hurt, but not too badly. This is a quiet hostel, so that’s good.

Random trail non sequitur: I talk to stuff out here. Like… a LOT. In a funny voice.
“Hellooo, tree trunk obstacle that I have to climb over!”
“Hellooo, cheerful bird!”
“Hellooo, water crossing with oddly placed rocks!”
“Hellooo, unexpectedly loud fart!”
“Hellooo, giant roots that look like a mammoth!”

OK, I’m tired. Time for some Harry Potter. More tomorrow from my actual hotel.

Oh. Spruce Lee and Shitaki are here. I heard Berkie’s ankle is injured and that she got a shuttle into town to take some zeroes, but that’s unverified. She didn’t pass me today. She, Trotter, Strider, Unicorn, and Jayrock were all planning to stay at the other hostel. Fern from New Zealand is at the… Iron something, where I’ll be tomorrow. I only saw three hikers all day, and two of them were section hikers. Weird.

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Thursday, April 11
No man’s land—ie, a bench outside the outfitter while I wait for Iron Something to open

So! I slept like a LOG last night. Unbelievably good sleep. That hostel has quiet hours, and the wall bunks have little walls of their own, so I felt cozy and safe and private. As trail hostels go, it’s a good one. 🙂

I had breakfast. Couldn’t finish. I’m drinking too much coffee and enjoying the hell out if it. I’ll probably skip breakfast tomorrow (until a bit later) and head out at the buttcrack of dawn. As I recall, the climb up and out of this little hiker Mecca is a beast.

Woah! Hellooo, young hippie-type person zoom-surfing past on a Segue with no handlebars! That’s amazing! You’re amazing!

Sooo many hikers here. Lots of familiar faces, but I forget their names. Birkie is here and hobbling to the clinic. Trotter and Strider just got into Laughing Heart. Tiny (for “tiny bladder”) is at Elmer’s. Just saw Fern; she said Horse Something was good last night. Jayrock and Unicorn did laundry at Laughing Heart and were on the way to Elmer’s.

Miscellania: Lost 4 pounds. That’s excellent. I was afraid I was losing too fast, but that number puts me in good shape—especially since I’m probably building some muscle. Point of reference: Last time, I’d lost something like 17 pounds by Hot Springs.

The single most important thing I’ve learned is that the difference between a miserable, slow, depressing, possibly injurious beginning and a tough but strength-building and confident one (not to mention cheaper) is that it’s CRITICAL (for me, anyway) to get to ideal body weight before hiking. That, and March 19 is a much better start date than March 7 or 8. 😀 (And having 3000 long-distance miles under my belt already doesn’t hurt, lol. Turns out I know some tricks.)

I’m holding solid in the middle. Talked to some young hikers this morning who started March 9—a full 10 days before me. Actually… close to the me of ‘13.

Miscellania: I’m not so into the cheeseburgers this time! I’m more liking bowls of things—your chilis, your coconut rice bowls, your soups. This is the Bowl of Something tour.

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Iron Horse Inn

This place is fabulous! Hardwood floors. Antiquey lovely—high-end looking stuff, instead of knockoffs. I mean, they may be knockoffs, but they’re good knockoffs. Writing desks and blanket chests and oriental rugs. I was here an hour before I realized there’s no television. Which is fine by me, because I don’t have one at home, either.

Miscellanea: I’m so tired of losing things! You think it would be hard to lose things in a one-person tent, but let me tell you. You know when you move and you can’t find your toothbrush for 2 1/2 weeks (not that I speak from experience) and there are boxes everywhere and you don’t know what’s in them? This is like that, only you move every day. Your pocket knife is in your pocket; you use it, and it’s raining that day so you stick it in the pocket of your rain jacket. Then the next day you use it, and it’s not raining but it’s windy so you stick it in the pocket of your longsleeve. Then the next day it’s not windy or raining, so you stick it in your pants pocket. By the fourth day you have no idea where it is, what pocket it’s in, or even if it made it to a pocket at all—particularly if you’re tearing down the house in a 5 AM downpour and trying to keep the important things relatively dry. Did you throw it out? Did it fall out of your pocket? Did aliens abduct it? So you obsess over it and tear everything apart and don’t find it, and you tear everything apart again and don’t find it, and you brood over it for a day and then you tear everything apart again and don’t find it. And you finally give up and buy a new one in Hot Springs. And then you find it in your backpack. Or sometimes not. So it goes. Every single day. With knives, gloves, cords, stakes, bits of velcro, brain cells, Twitter addiction, socks.

Hey look at my new knife! 😀 On this string around my neck, where it’ll live now, rain or shine!

Eventually you lose every single gram of extraneous stuff. The trail strips you bare, then manages to flense away just a little bit more. What’s left lives in one place and one place only, and everything is clean and calm and echoless. Then the hike is close to over. So it goes!

Looks like the forecast is rain for the next week! Yay! Rain, for a change! 😀

(But I’ll have my tiny knife.)

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