I wake up in a bed. The bed has many pillows and blankets stacked around me and I feel warm and safe and still stuffed full of the vegan burger I ate last night. I think of the burger and I could cry. That burger was perfect.
Things are about to be different. We’ve walked through the dry desert washes in Anza Borrego. We’ve walked up the mountains, through the snow, amongst the cholla and the ocotillo. We’ve gone up and down El Cajon. More or less, from here on out we are walking through neighborhoods: first Poway, then San Diego. There is one more tiny bushwhack, but mostly we’re just above the cul-de-sacs, through backyards and across playgrounds. I think of the ease of walking through neighborhoods and from my space amongst the pillows on the cloud bed it sounds good. Reliable water and easy tread! Sign me up.
I stumble into the living room and Girl Scout is waiting. Jelly Bean joins us and we make a quick game plan: coffee and donuts and then we get going. Girl Scout asks us if we want to skip some of the neighborhood walk and go straight to the next bushwhack and we say nah. I’ll skip if there’s a time crunch or some sort of dangerous tread but if I start skipping parts that are just boring or uncomfortable I’d probably stop long distance hiking in no time! It’s all uncomfortable, really.
Girl Scout plops us right at the trail head and we thank him once more. Jelly Bean and I climb up and out of Oak Oasis campground and toward a brief stint of road walking on more private property. This private property is different then the last, though just a handful of miles away. Instead of loose dogs and Don’t Tread On Me flags, there’s just wealth. Tall stately homes with beautiful porches, high on the hill. I catch my first glimpse of the ocean and I could cry. I love the ocean so much!!! And we’re walking to it! What a fun thing.
From the wealthy neighborhoods, we head down at first just a little and then very steeply. We hit Poway and road walk through businesses, all named Patriot this and American Industries that. There are Trump bumper stickers, so many Trump bumper stickers. How can people feel comfortable with these hateful bumper stickers? I am offended for myself, the latino folks doing construction and road clean up all around us, and the Earth. Fuck Donald J. Trump. Fuck him so hard.
I duck behind trees to piss and there are horses and broken bottles everywhere. We head up into our bushwhack and it is blessedly short and steep and passes without incident beyond a little humidity. What a difference slightly lower bushes with space between makes! I am so grateful.
I listen to Big Little Lies and zone out amongst the rolling hills that rim Poway. The walking is incredibly gentle and I am grateful because the blisters on both of my little toes have started to demand attention, growing larger and larger until my actual toes look small in comparison. Clouds pass over the sun and I feel gloomy, wondering why anything is, if my lover will stop loving me, if I am doing the right things during this year, the one where I leveled everything to be free. The sun peeks out again and I brighten, knowing that I can’t know anything, not really anyway. It’s all a mystery but I’m probably doing just fine. I remember how I lived in Portland’s grey clouds for the better part of eight years and I laugh. Seasonal depression, man. I really do have it.
The issue with urban hiking is that we cannot think of a single place to camp that doesn’t feel awkward and at the 20 mile mark, Pineapple picks us up to sleep at her place instead of trying. Tonight we eat vegan pho, smelling like shit in a beautiful and well lit restaurant, my dirt mustache and grime caked fingernails extremely apparent under the florescent lights.
Tomorrow we hike our last 15 miles, and with that, we’ll hit the ocean.