Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 18 : Grace, Magic, and Spigots

19 miles today
2334 miles to go

Another rest-filled night. I awaken to the sound of rushing water. The dim light of dawn is filtering down to my tent. It's brighter than it was, but not much. My unzipped sleeping bag is draped over me. The cool morning air reveals the gaps where my sleeping bag is not. All the possessions I have with me are within two feet of my body. Everything I have is either in the tent with me or right outside the zippered door under the vestibule. I ‘washed’ my shoes by rinsing them in the creek. I wonder if they are dry. I unzip the door slightly and reach out. Yes, that's awesome! No squishy squeaky walking today. I reach up to my internal clothes line in my tent. My socks and gaiters are dry too. All good omens, as if I believed in omens. It's human nature to attach significance to the experience of general grace, I am no different, I feel that this is going to be a great day!

I do exactly one sit up every morning. The one that comes right after my mattress is deflated. The purpose is to stuff my sleeping bag, change out of my sleeping clothes, roll my mattress, unzip my door, rotate ninety degrees, and put on my shoes. All that is possible because of that single sit-up. I feel pretty good because now I can do that sit-up without straining my lower back or having my feet kick the tent's ceiling/roof. I perform all these machinations flawlessly this morning. I step outside in the early dawn light. Two blackbirds compete for territory with their dreweeeeeee-et calls back and forth. It's calm and beautiful in Deep Creek canyon this morning. 

I'm still eating breakfast as Proton and Mountain Man head off down the trail. They are fast hikers I probably won't see them again. Braveheart and I finish packing close to the same time. We climb the steep trail from our camp back up to the PCT. Goodbye beach, goodbye blackbirds. We are off. The trail heads down, down the hill. Traversing the ridge slowly losing elevation as we go. Down below we can see the fifty foot wide green ribbon of the creek. Fifty feet of life is an almost barren landscape. 

Mojave Forks Dam. A flood control dam that slows the flow of water to laces downstream. It's impossible for me to imagine enough water to make the cost of building this dam pay for itself. With the dryness of this area and the creeks reduced to dribbles in the sand. This dam seems like huge overkill. A taxpayer funded project that will never provide the benefits promised during its inception. Of course, I don't know what I'm talking about. I don't know if it's doing what was promised. All I know is that the PCT drops right down below the blue blob on the map. We cross the bottom of the lake without holding our breaths of a divine miracle. The dam sits there to the north. Blocking any views in that direction. A huge pile of giant boulders. An impressive man made structure that may or not be necessary. 

Never mind that, what is this? Here at the bottom of the lake is an Izuzu box truck. The plastic plate on the side of the trail says, “Coppertone is here.” The plate speaks truth. A former Thru-hiker, Coppertone dispenses grace on the PCT. Grace is unexpected and undeserved favor. That is exactly what Coopetone does. As you walk off the trail and into the trailhead he welcomes you. Then he provides a choice. “Would like like pie-a-la-mode or a root beer float?” What did we do to deserve this treatment? Nothing! He shares his goodies with us free of charge and free of strings attached. He shares with us not because of who we are but because of who he is. He's Coppertone. What a great picture of how God treats us too. Thank you Coppertone, or is it St Coppertone? May God grant you peace.

We play leapfrog today. A bevy of Thru-hikers all traveling about the same speed. When anyone stops for any reason they are passed by the others. In this way, Nick, Flash, Braveheart, Rafiki, Beth, Will & Clare, and myself (No Skip) have intermittent conversations. We climb up, around, up some more, down, around. Wandering seemingly aimlessly. But only seeming aimless, our aim is Silverwood Lake. More specifically, spigots. Spigots are these cool metal things that have handles. When you turn the handle water comes out. Like magic, spigots are worth traveling to no matter how far. In this case, nineteen miles. After doing over twenty miles each day for a while, nineteen seems easy. As we approach mile fourteen we climb up towards the lake through some trees and bushes. Nestled inside those bushes, a cooler. Trail Magic! It has a log to sign in, but more important, it has peaches and strawberries. Cold peaches and strawberries. They are so good I find it hard to only eat a few. Thank you anonymous trail angel for the fruit. I'm sorry if I ate more than my fair share. Well, I'm not sure how sorry I really am. I'd probably do it again. 

Spigots! Flush toilets! Wow, we are in paradise. We can have all the drinkable water we want. All for a mere five bucks. I rinse out my clothes, I give myself a towel bath, I drink till I slosh when I walk. It's uncomfortable so I don't walk. I'll wait till the sloshing subsides. We leisurely cook dinner at a real table. No more sitting in the dust. At least for tonight. Dinner is a remarkable corn chowder. It's basically the same dinner I had when I was fighting the raccoons. The slight differences are: rice instead of noodles, more water, not spilling half the corn into the dirt, not working up a sweat fighting raccoons. Other than those small difference it was the identical meal. It's remarkable how much I enjoyed it this time over last time.

The sun is setting over the mountains to the west. The day was very enjoyable. My feet seem to have somehow adapted to being pounded on a dusty trail for miles on end. Blisters have hardened into callouses. My abs are able to perform my single sit-up without compliant or strain. Camping at the state park at Silverwood Lake provides luxuries that in my pre-trail life I completely took for granted. I am so thankful for clean running water, flat tables and benches, flush toilets. The campground is mostly empty except for Thru-hikers. The inmates are running the asylum! Ah, but we leave a small footprint. Early tomorrow morning the camp will empty out and it'll be as if we were never here.

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