Well, today was interesting! Broke camp nice and early, but I had the hardest time getting going. The climb started last night continued, and I foolishly didn't have any breakfast, so I was pooped - quickly. I could tell that Slosh was stressed ever since we left Idyllwild that we're a little behind schedule and that people we started with are now ahead of us. I felt really bad about being the "anchor" on the team, and hit a low point. I feel like I'm always the weakest link, and that's a tough feeling. I realized I usually stick to things where this isn't the case, because (duh) nobody likes to be the one who can't keep up or isn't as good as everyone else. Being out here is really challenging because a lot of the people out here have down thru-hikes before, OR are seriously fresh out of college or high school and have boundless energy and seem to feel no pain. I realized that my 22 year old self would run circles around me now, too. Anyway, I had a little bit of a breakdown and felt really sorry for myself for a while. Always productive! (Did I mention my trail name is Smiles? If only they knew...!)
I decided to hike completely alone for a while. I needed some time to myself, and I didn't want to worry about keeping up with anyone. Usually, I'm afraid to hike alone, but it was really nice! Sounds weird, but it was nice to know I could just hike, totally on my own without anyone else around, at my own pace and everything, no comparisons to anyone else. I'm constantly stressed that I'm not going fast enough, so hiking alone was nice because I just didn't worry about anyone but me! My competitive nature has been a challenge to this thru-hiking ordeal - I've taken a little blow to the old ego, methinks. After 20 mile days day after day, it seems like some people are up for doing another 30! I envy them! But spending a day on my own was pretty relaxing. I did everything on my own and still made the same miles that everyone else did - so I can do this too! Instead of thinking about the finish line, I need to start thinking about the day I'm living and hiking in.
The actual hiking wound up being one of the prettiest days so far. We're up in the mountains and the pine trees are so amazing. They smell so fresh and stand so tall and proud. I love them. Near the end of the day, I turned the corner and stumbled upon some Trail Magic! Cold soda, beer, and camp chairs set up in the middle of the trail! I couldn't help snagging a beer - there was one of my favorites, Mirror Pond on ice! We met 2 brothers from Orange County who were interesting guys - they're attmepting to live entirely off the land by forging and hunting. They spent the last year and a half learning, applying for, and collecting all the tags they need to be able to do so. One of them worked at McDonald's to save up for all their permits, etc. They were nice enough to play a few songs for us - they were carrying a canteen as a drum AND a guitar. They treated us to a mini concert! Now, if that's not an awesome end to what started out as a tough day, I don't know what is!