I SAW MY FIRST BEAR TODAY.
So by default, no – I did not get murdered by any ghosts last night. Those angels must have stood guard well.
I left early so Speedy could catch up and we’d have lunch together (otherwise his average wait time for us is 2hrs+). I felt the sun rise, more than watched it: we were hugging the western side of the mountains this morning, so I only got to bask in the warmth and continue to thaw out if there was a dip in the trees above me.
The sleep system I use is an Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt (thank you Simon Mason for getting me onto this!) with a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir mattress. For all the other newbies out there, don’t worry – I had no idea what any of that meant just a month ago.
Simply put, I have a great little inflatable mattress that helps insulate from the cold underneath (and it packs down to smaller than a 1L bottle – so fun!).
But the quilt part was the surprise for me.
It’s technically not a sleeping bag, because it doesn’t zip up all the way. Crazy, right?!
The theory is, down sleeping bags keep you warm because of the air that gets trapped in between feathers – so if you’re lying on top of that and it’s all compressed, it’s not doing you much good. Why not cut out that bit, and just have a kinda cocoon that goes most of the way around, instead? Saves weight, which matters when you’re carrying it all for months at a time. Admittedly, the weight of my nail polish and ukulele don’t bother me too much, but at least I can carry them now because my quilt is lighter than a bag… 😉
I have to say: it works really well. There are straps that go around my mattress to hold it in place, so when I roll over onto my side I shouldn’t get a rush of freezing air assaulting my back, but that did take a few nights of practise and finessing.
Oops, I’m rambling. So many details! My point is, it does the job beautifully and keeps me warm. And I got to choose the colours (purple and yellow). Even still, last night was cold as the Arctic and having to get out of said quilt and begin walking pre-dawn was not my favourite.
I don’t like the cold.
I also don’t like vomit, but felt like that was what I was eating for breakfast. Sweet, semi-chunky apple and cinnamon flavoured vomit. My gas canister had lasted until halfway through cooking pasta last night for dinner (thank you Speedy for cooking the rest!), so I had poured the porridge/water mix into my drink bottle to soak overnight in lieu of cooking.
My hunger has gone through the roof, and my trail mix was finished two days ago, so I had nothing to mix into the cold slop I was drinking to change up the texture. So many learning curves: don’t eat all the trail mix as a late night snack Naomi!
The next clearing I passed gave a glimpse of Big Bear Lake – our next town, we’d be reaching this afternoon – and then I saw a REAL bear.
And actual, big, brown grizzly bear.
A sad bear.
It looked defeated.
My heart broke for it, and I started thinking about how one day maybe I could advocate for animals in zoos to be released or something.
This poor animal was locked up in a cage no bigger than two or three times it’s body length. She just stood there, all her majesty and power stolen by the metal wire someone had trapped her in.
I continued on in a pine forest that I’m sure would have been torturous for the bear: to be caged up in a cell so small, surrounded by a forest so big and green and free.
After a while I took my daily smiley selfie (Reens wanted one for every mile, but that would take WAY too much diligence, so daily it is) and the forest thinned out to sparse bushes. Again.
A mile out from the road, Speedy was waiting for me next to a pile of rocks: we’ve been walking the same distances this whole time and so far had most of the milestone pictures together, so he didn’t break tradition as we celebrated our first complete 10%!
And thennnnn TOWN!
There was a little bit of miscommunication with our airbnb – it had a foosball table and dart board but no washing machine. Can you tell a male organised it? 😉
Speedy and I prioritised burgers and fries and chocolate shakes first, then trudged down to the laundromat and drank some wine as we waited for our clothes to have our (stench) hopefully washed away.
It’s nice to put our feet up and eat chips and Oreos and hang out around a table with no tents in sight.
I’m planning on just a few miles tomorrow evening, but let’s be honest… It’s really nice to put our feet up and eat chips and Oreos and hang out around a table with no tents in sight.