Noelle here:

I met Steve at Centipede Gulch Trailhead yesterday. It was only a short walk from the van and I spent the afternoon relaxed and at peace. We were planning to van camp but it turns out the road is now closed and has been turned back over to Mother Nature. Rocks have tumbled upon it and grass is growing in its cracks, which meant that I, gloriously, had the entire area to myself!

I explored the nearby creek, saw a badger/raccoon/mountain lion kitten 🐱. I’m not sure what it actually was but when I realized it looked rather cat-like I turned around and went back. I lounged around in the shade by the trailhead.

Only one northbound hiker went by. He’s section hiking and had his own stories of the tales told him by the young people coming thru the Sierras. We had both met the same young girl, who I think Steve already mentioned, the fast hiker who it was hard for him to keep up with. Well she’s telling all of us that she is NOT telling her mom that she literally had to swim across one river! Everyone coming thru (or starting it then bailing) has stories of terror (not just fear) and times where they believed they may die or be seriously injured. Yet they all smile and say, but I lived! (As though living is the badge itself).

Anyway my day was quiet. I meditated for a while, napped for a while, and was super excited to see Steve walk out of the greenery and appear before me!

We camped at the mosquito-infested, Ash Camp. It was great! Except for the bugs. I had told him I hung out where I was because of mosquitoes. He said next time I should use the word infested so he’s better able to grasp the severity of the situation. I must have thirty bites on my body from the last week. And I’m so allergic! I’ve gone through half a tube of Benadryl lotion and am planning to get calamine at the next good-sized store. I may end up paying the highway robbery price of a smaller store for it soon though.

In theory I was excited to tent camp with Steve again. I missed it so much. In reality, my hips hurt from the ground, my shoulder throbbed if I turned to my left side, and we were on a bit of a slope. I did like feeling the night breeze in my face, hearing the sounds of nature (like the guy in the next tent, haha) and seeing the beautiful sunrise this morning. Turns out, I mostly enjoy the intimacy of the small space, the close nature of being together, hearing Steve’s sleeping pad crinkle every time he moves. I like sitting inside to eat our dinner in order to escape the “infestation”. And I like waking up with our faces so close together.

This evening I grilled pork chops and zucchini with a side of tabullea. I got this one use grill pan at Camper World for $3 and finally had an opportunity to use it.

All you do is light it and a few minutes later the charcoal is ready. We probably won’t get another one but it was fun for something different! The coals didn’t really get hot enough to sear the chops so instead they seemed a bit dry.

We eat at restaurants in towns but other than that we don’t have a lot of fresh food so it’s nice when we have something that’s closer to our normal meals, even if it wasn’t fantastic.

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