At Ziggy and the Bear’s I concentrate on rehydrating. I take two showers and wash my clothes in a bucket. I drink liters of water, Emergen-C, and Gatorade. There is a run for pizza and In-N-Out Burger. I get both and save half the pizza for later. Otto, Camalita, Shuffle, Sideshow, Gadget, Lost and Found, Sunshine and a bunch of other hikers I’ve been leapfrogging decide to leave at 4pm. There is a strange pressure to follow when I see people shouldering their packs, but I’m still so hot and tired. Optimist and Janel “convince” me two stay with a plan to wake up at 4:30am when it’s much cooler and hike 10 miles to White Water Preserve before the heat sets in. We’ll then hang there until late afternoon and hike another 10.
That evening, right after sunset, three hikers, Shrek, Girly Girl, and Tin Man show up as if blown in by a dirt storm. They’re filthy and spun around. They take the ice cream and pizza that Ziggy offers. Girly Girl takes a quick shower. With energy still to burn they head off again, into the wind and darkness, wanting more excitement than the low-key domestic scene is going to provide. That moment encapsulates for me something that’s very special about this trek, something feral and free.