Today was our last day of relaxation before we head out for the trail and are off to the High Sierra. Not only was today relaxing, but it felt a little like Christmas: all the stuff we’d ordered two days ago showed up today.
Getting new gear on the trail is about a million times more exciting than all but the most amazing Amazon purchases at home: out here, you have only a few things that you carry with you, and you use them all the time — so anything you get is something that’s going to be really important to you, and which you’ll appreciate nearly constantly. My own gear upgrades today were relatively minor; I got new gloves for around camp and some Alocsacs (which are like extra-heavy-duty waterproof Zip-Locs for organizing and keeping stuff dry), and even that feels pretty exciting.
But the biggest deal of all, by far, is the new shoes that Bucket (Clare) and Rally got. They’ve each been suffering from some significant leg/foot pain — particularly Bucket, whose pain has been particularly intense in the last week or so — and happen to wear the exact same size, which means they could place one Zappos order for both of them. This is how we came to have an immense stack of packages on our hotel bed in the middle of the afternoon, a third from Amazon and two-thirds from Zappos. Let the unboxing commence! Pretty soon, no fewer than eight pairs of shoes were opened and tried on.
After careful evaluation, Bucket and Rally each decided on the exact same shoe…but had the foresight to order two of them, in different colors (since this particular shoe seemed promising), and so all was well. (Bucket’s even match with her new gaiters, which is coincidental but particularly awesome.) A little creative asking around by Bucket even got us access to a printer to print the Zappos return labels, and now we have a stack of six Zappos boxes in our room, ready to return all the remaining shoes early tomorrow morning.
I even got a treat of my own: after 650 miles, it was finally time for me to get new shoes, too. Even though my shoes have kept me feeling great — well, at least as far as my feet and calves are concerned — they do wear out. Most running shoes are designed to last about 400 miles, and that’s for running on pavement or soft ground. About two weeks ago, mine started to feel like they’d lost their cushion, so I put in an order for new ones to be delivered here. The timing worked out really well, because over the next couple of days, giant holes opened up in the front of each of them — large enough to stick two fingers all the way through if I wanted. This rendered my gaiters largely useless, letting all manner of rocks and sand get in my shoe constantly, which was really annoying. Today I opened up my new Brooks Cascadia 10s, and…well, I’ll let the pictures do the talking: they look amazing compared to the old ones, and, more importantly, they feel amazing compared to the old ones. Talk about a piece of gear you use constantly — new shoes are seriously exciting out here. Hooray!
What did we do the rest of the day? Well…about the same things we did the past couple of days. Ate too much (but it’s not actually too much out here in the least, it’d just be ridiculous back home), ran a few errands, swam in the pool and drank beer (it was so exhausting, we’re all nihilists today). Oh, and a first for me — given the horrible condition of my toes (I won’t shock you with a picture), I joined in with everybody else in painting my toes a wonderful bright sparkly purple. They now look about a million times better than they did, and might not even scare non-hikers away just to look at. (There’s a whole separate post waiting to talk about what the trail does to your feet, but suffice it to say that it ain’t pretty, both figuratively and literally.)
In the evening today, Rally’s husband showed up, too! We’d known that he was planning on coming the entire time, but the day finally got here — he’s joining her for the hike from here through Tuolumne Meadows, which is some of the most spectacular scenery of the entire trail by far. We’ve heard lots about him, of course, and are looking forward to getting to know him better. Even just from this evening, I think it’s got to be a really difficult transition to make, coming into a group of hikers who’ve all converted completely from “civilized” life to trail life for a month and a half — I’m impressed at everything he’s doing.
The day ended about like all the others have here, with a wonderful dinner by Shelley, with Lonnie helping to lay it out. I managed to get a picture of them today — they’re about as incredibly cute as you might imagine. We also discovered that the hotel cat, who we’ve dubbed Rattlecat for reasons nobody really remembers, has a bunch of absolutely adorable kittens she’s raising. So cute!
And…tomorrow — tomorrow brings us back to the trail. Since we stopped, not only has it gotten warmer (and almost certainly warm enough to help melt a bunch of the snow), but it’s gotten downright hot. Kennedy Meadows, our next major trail destination, is supposed to hit 100° in the next few days. We’re all pretty intimidated at what that might mean for hiking tomorrow, but that’s why we’re taking tons and tons of water (even though it isn’t all that far between water sources) and planning to take it slow or hike early/late, with a siesta in the middle of the day. We all plan to get going quite early, around 6 AM, but not without one last stop at our favorite place for breakfast, the Dam Korner Café.
Giant cinnamon rolls await!