Day 34: Slackpacking Isn’t Always Easy

Day 34 (Friday, May 20): Agua Dulce (mi 456.32) to Casa de Luna (mi 478.23+2mi road walk),  23.91 miles. (up/down: +5652/-4986)

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The weather was to be in the 60’s and 70’s the next week; perfect backpacking weather. My feet were still not 100% and I was going to use the privilege of having my mom near by while I could. I would be slackpacking (hiking with just things I would need for the day), 24 miles from Agua Dulce to Green Valley (Casa de Luna).

Just a couple miles into my hike, my feet started to get super tingly and numb. What the heck was happening?! Was it just because I hadn’t done much walking the past few days or a bigger problem? I stopped for a minute to check my feet. They looked fine and when I stopped walking the tingly feeling went away. As soon as I started walking again, the feeling returned. I called my mom for her 2 cents. After mom’s orders of resting and elevating for 15 minutes, they seemed to be better. I also loosened my knee brace which seemed to help.

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The weather was chilly, windy, and the hillside was covered in dense fog. I could really only see right in front of me – probably a good thing I couldn’t see the hills I was to be climbing. After 5 minutes, the feeling returned to my left foot and not too long after it was in my right foot too. I called my mom yet again, who offered to come pick me up. I was nowhere near a road. I’d either have to walk back the 5 or 6 miles I already hiked or continue another 5 to a paved road. I kept walking north. I had to stop every few minutes to move my feet around to regain normal or to lose tingly sensation. I ran into a few guys at the top. I joined them for a little while until Bear Springs. It was nice knowing I wasn’t the only cold and miserable hiker out there.

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I figured I would continue to the road and see how my feet felt. The trail to the road was now down hill. My feet felt better when it was flat or slightly downhill. After the road, would be minimal incline. I figured I had already gone this far and getting off early wouldn’t make the next day of hiking any easier. I decided to continue to another 10 miles to Casa de Luna.

I guess I chose the scenic route. I could see Green Valley below me, but the trail kept going to the left around it. I figured I would just be going to the next saddle, and the road would be there. I was wrong. I got the saddle, and the trail led far, far away. There was one little hill that I could see around, but the trail went all the way around. Pretty sure it was an extra 4 miles, when it could have been one. I weaved my way in and out of the hillside then finally made it to the highway.

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The Scenic Route

I then walked the 2 miles to Casa de Luna. I arrived around 4:30, and seemed like most of the hikers were in the back napping in their tents. I found myself a nice comfy spot on the couch in the front yard and cozied up. I again saw new and familiar faces. It was chilly, and the trail angels could tell. They brought me a nice warm blanket and hot tea! How nice! My mom has definitely been meeting a lot of hikers. I had one come up to me,  “ You must be Demi?” – “Oh, you met my mom”. I guess she gave this hiker a ride around the toad closure and gave him my card.

Now me and my mom were having trouble communicating where and when she would pick me up. She had not seen the address I sent her the night before. She also had a new GPS which was less than user friendly. The plan was to meet at 6:30. It was nearly 8:30 by the time she found me. Thankfully she eventually made it to the right town and found some hikers hitchhiking who were going to the same place I was. They were able to give her accurate directions and we were reunited after I had a tasty Taco Salad – thanks Terrie! By the time my mom arrived, we were  both mentally and physically exhausted and mutually agreed to drive back to the RV vs driving around the closure.

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Don’t hold your plate over the food!

Personal note on today:

Wow, today was hard. Even though I was slackpacking, my mind and body were getting tested today. Just the other day, I wrote Ellen DeGeneres a plea to help me pay for college. In this message, I included a lot about my struggles growing up with depression and my past suicide attempt. Today was a flashback to those times. I was being challenged. I felt like quitting. I didn’t think I could go on. But today was different. I was stronger. I shared my struggles with my mom and fellow hikers (who were also experiencing some pain). I walked through the pain and desire to go back to the comfort of the RV. I made it.

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