Mileage: ~ 45 [today: 16 and town]
Morale: 6 [Made first resupply stop.... many more to go. Feet hurt but shin splints apparently cleared up. Settling into pace.]
S is for snakes, supplies, sunshine, *Speshul 41, *Starman, Sam the water cache guy.
Blister cumulative total: 3
Since I have pulled out my journal at lunch instead of at night, and thus my brain is still functioning, let me try to channel Bill Bryson (A Walk In The Woods author) for a moment as I talk about chance hiking companion #1: Rob.
Rob is a man of middling height and, as with so many other thru-hikers, is approximately 30. He is one of the thru-hikers (like myself) that looks like a lost Marine in a goofy hat, having shaved off his hair in preparation for the desert. On the other hand, to prepare for the desert he bought a hammock. He's actually gotten to use it, is the strange part.
Rob is from Minnesota. Or Wisconsin. He's a little vague on it, but the upshot is that he has a Garrison Keillor accent.
So as the two of us are heading down the trail - Bryson and Keillor - our sharp writer minds will kick in, and in a quasi-Northeastern drone, he'll say something profound like. "Ah. Shade. Good idea." or "We should get more water."
This is not to fault Rob's conversational skills. This is what everyone sounds like out on the trail. We talk about trail conditions, we announce our actions ("I'm going to go water a tree now"), we talk to inanimate objects ("Hiking stick, stay"). If we're feeling especially cogent we ask about our companions' home towns and make small talk about geography.
Longtime hikers can discuss odder subjects. Batteries Included and Panda had a discussion on whether Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty was cooler when we hiked with them on Day 2. [Springsteen. -Kady] But most of us haven't gotten there yet.
Rob and I walked down the trail, occasionally offering up some brilliant trail conversation, as the path climbed toward Mount Laguna. And climbed. 2,500+ feet. I tried hiking on ahead, filled with an urgent need to get to the store there before it closed and buy some junk food, and ended up reaching it a half-hour before slow-but-steady Rob -- at 4:30, just in time to see a full porch of a dozen hikers clear down to ... me and him, basically, along with a section hiker named Jerry who was ducking off the trail into a room for the night with a badly swollen knee.
I wolfed down a microwaved-at-the-store Hot Pocket and an ice-cold Snapple. I think it was what gave me a brief burst of diarrhea.
Was organizing and preparing to hit the trail again after bathroom stop #2 when a fresh-faced young man chatted me up. (Waiting for his wife to use the facilities.) It was a nice pleasant chat spoiled only by him dashing over right before they drove away with some "trail reading" describing how the Son of Sam Killer found religion behind bars. Did I look THAT lost?
Hiked on sans Rob -- he took off before me; and a week later I haven't caught up to him yet -- and found what seemed like a good spot to camp. Someone else had obviously thought so too, as a figure popped out from behind a tree to greet (and startle) me. Starman and I chatted for a while -- about the joys of night hiking, among other things -- and settled in to get a timely start to the following day.