Day 2 - lake morena to mount laguna
March 29 | Miles 20 - 42.5
Today was hard.
After a fitful night of sleep thanks to my bad mood and a loud snorer sawing logs at camp, I awoke to find that my tent had frosted over and that condensation had gotten to it in the night, wetting my entire tent body and floor as well as my sleeping bag. Freezing, I packed up with numb hands and whimpered as I stuffed the giant icicle into my outer pack pocket, knowing nothing would be warm or dry until the sun came out.
I hiked through the misty morning with a heavy heart, missing home and all that comes with it. The melancholy gobbles of awakening wild turkeys echoed in the distance.
It wasn’t long before I crossed a busy highway underpass. BAILOUT, I thought to myself, as people sped by in cars on their way about their lives. But I kept going. It was then that I noticed this graffiti on the bridge:
”When you don’t have anything to lose: JUMP. And when you have lost everything: fly. It is that simple.”
Fatima and Jason, whoever you are, thank you for that. It was leagues more valuable than all the cartoon dicks scrawled across the wall.
Minutes after crossing, I stumbled apon a group of cool hikers and we got to chatting as one of them, an older dude, bumped some REM in the background (he was drying out his wet tent too. Not just me). One guy was smoking a joint at the leisurely hour of 10:30AM. Amused, I was invigorated briefly, but then it came time to start climbing.
The trail wound up and around I-80, which leads directly to San Diego. BAILOUT, I heard again. I was so tempted. The sun beat down on me and started to turn the backs of my calves bright red. After 15 minutes of internal debate I resolved: Nope. Not today.
The mountain scenery began to intensify as water sources all but disappeared. Parched, I reached Kitchen Creek, a steep 100ft climb down off the trail to a rushing aqua stream. I could feel my thirst being quenched.
But as I gathered and squeezed water through my filter, I felt my second bottle fly away from behind me. A second later it was floating in the creek. SHIT. Without a second thought I jumped full in, soaking the entire lower half of my body. My shoes and socks were sopping. But it was 1:30 and I had to keep going.
I squished up trail, feeling pitiful as I munched on sad dried pineapple and apricots. An extreme sense of despair settled over me like a wet hot fog. I crossed a road, where a woman in dreadlocks waited at the trailhead in her shiny red Volkswagen to pick up the hiker she came to see. I can call for backup, I thought. What am I doing here??
I turned and kept climbing.
Snaking up into the Laguna Mountains, the trail provided views that kept getting better and better. But lest one be tempted to stray from the dirt path:
No matter how cool the vistas were, I couldn’t shake my funk.
Around 3:30 in the afternoon, I had decided to push to Mount Laguna, which would make this my second consecutive 20 mile day. I felt hotspots forming in my wet shoes on my big and little toes. The pressure and heat in my feet built as I climbed up to 6000ft. I felt a sharp pain in my left forefoot, letting me know one of the blisters had popped.
Hot and exhausted, I checked my phone. I had a text from my mom with a message from her friend Linda (hey Linda, if you’re reading, this meant so much to me and I thank you from the bottom of my heart):
“No matter what, God knows all and always keeps His promises. She’s in His hands. I’m Praying for peace in yielding to him… I place all worries in Gods hands. God bless her full heart, her gentle heart, her generous heart. God bless how she honors her mother and father and shares a deep love with you both. God bless her spirit, her courage, her determination.”
I cried silently as I made my final push up to Mount Laguna, so touched by her words that I ignored the pain in my knees and toes.
The sun was thinking about setting just as I arrived. In haste I remembered there was a lodge in town (population 60, maybe it’s more of a community) and immediately called them up. Yes, they had a room. How soon could I get there? They closed at 5:30 and the owner wanted to go home and go do bed. I made a promise not to stop at the restaurant to eat first, and he waited at the front desk an extra 30 minutes as I sprinted the final mile to get my keys.
I passed several other hikers in my Tasmanian-devil cloud of dust. I think one even called out, “hey look, there she goes, the wild hare off down the trail.”
I arrived in no time at the lodge, where the owner also commented on my pace: “you’re going at a pretty good clip there.” Yes, will walk for hot shower and bed. He graciously reopened the general store and let me buy whatever I wanted, which was 2 Pacifico’s. He then handed me a big tub full of laundry detergent. I smiled a wide grin at him and thanked him profusely before skipping off to my room and enjoying a long, hot shower and 8PM bedtime after a dinner of protein bars and Asian rice crackers. All was well.