Wake at 3:30, two miles south of the Pass on what we called “magical snow island.” I can see headlamps in the dark ascending the miles we climbed yesterday to get to this small piece of snow free boulder to camp.
Since the actual Evolution Creek trail crossing is impassable, we take the Evolution Creek Alternate. It is calm and deep. We all challenged each other to take a dip after we cross, daring each other to stay in the water for 30 seconds in exchange for a for a town milkshake. These bets are notorious between Blis and me, but we never get each other milkshakes because we both claim we are tied. I think there have been at least 200 milkshake bets within the past 250 miles, and as team HERPES bores of milkshakes, the milkshakes are replaced with large pizzas.
Excited to be at a lower elevation and stepping on the true trail, I accidentally trip on a root. My fingers bend all the way back to the front of my hand. I cry. Blis gets me some ice and jelly beans, as if taking care of a wailing child. I can’t hike with a pole for the rest of the day, and feeling down, I enter camp at last, feeling like a beaten dog looking to hide in a tent for the remainder of the night.
These are days on the trail when you fall asleep before dark descends, covering your eyes with your buff and passing out with a tennis ball under your ass and your thermarest on top of your body. A yard sale of pieces of equiptment, resembling trash more than useful things, spread within arm length, for when you need the pee rag and flip flops at midnight, and the headlamp, wet clothes and the frozen trail shoes for the 3:30 am wake up and next day’s hike.