Miles: .5
Camping: A posh bed in a hotel in Tehachapi
Hikers seen on trail: 5

I was in the middle of a dream when I felt something tap the top of my sleeping bag. I could barely open my eyes, sleep had been difficult with the blister pain. Ninja was trying to wake me up, we were so close to breakfast, a nice hotel, parents, and a zero day. It took so much energy to sit up, but it would be worth it, so I made it happen.

I looked at my toes,  and the sight was not pretty. Two blisters I had tried to pop, both on the tip of my big toe, were again full of fluid and virtually throbbing. The one on my pinky toe was open and raw, exposing tender pink flesh. I put neosporin everywhere, and bandaids too, hoping it would get me to the second road 8.5 miles ahead.

Standing was a chore, and I resisted the urge to cry. Why would this be happening so late in the trip? My blisters from week one had healed so well, had not given me so much grief. Why is now so much worse?

I told Ninja that I might not make it past the first road crossing .5 miles away. He had me walk ahead, and I could barely manage that short distance. We reached the road, and I accepted the depressing reality that I had to do what was best for my body. If it were the last 8 miles of the trip, if I had no other choice, I could likely pull it off. It was neither of those things, and the pain was unbearable. I sat next to the road and we agreed to meet in town, as he moved on to meet his parents at the next road.

I cried. I cried like a girl dumped at prom. I was angry, pained, and defeated. Blisters!!?! This is what is taking me down? My friend would now be ahead of me, and I am suddenly behind in miles. I wanted to call my mom, but I couldn’t stop crying. I needed to calm down first. Stampede and Landfill came by and they made me smile. Soon they had me laughing too. I was doing the right thing, they assured me, it would all be okay…and we can still find lots of things to laugh about.

They moved on to their 8 mile finish, and I started to feel better. Leonidas and CrackerJack rolled up next and also made me feel better. It will all be okay. I called my mom, and then stuck my thumb out for a ride. It seemed to take a long time, but soon a woman stopped and agreed to take me to meet my friends.

“I’m on my way to church, would you like to join me?” She asked.
Oh nothat’s sweet,” I said instead, “but I have to meet my friends.”
“Have you accepted Jesus into your heart as your savior?” She asked.
Not now…“Not really.” I said meekly.
“Would you like to pray with me?”
“Now isn’t a good time.”

I changed the subject to blisters, how my friends were waiting, and the desert plant life. She went with it for a short time before inviting me to her house later to read the bible and pray. I told her I was busy, but appreciated the invite. She dropped me at Denny’s, across from our hotel, and I went inside to wait for my friends…but not before she pushed some reading on me. I accepted it knowing it would be left behind at the restaurant.

I waited for 20 minutes, and she returned, full King James Bible in tow. “I thought you needed this.” She said, her painted on eyebrows imploring me to accept Jesus into my heart, right there in Denny’s.
“That is very kind,” I said sweetly, “but that is too heavy to carry. We cut tags out of our clothes to shave weight off our backs.”
She wanted to sit and read it to me as I waited, but I politely declined, and she appeared to get the message. My blisters and I weren’t getting saved today.

Finally, my friends arrived with Ninja’s parents, and everything was better. We ate a large breakfast, which they treated us to (thank you Mama and Papa Ninja!), and we all went to the hotel. His parents bought us soda, beer, cookies, and even shampoo! We all showered, snacked and lounged, and it felt so good, despite my swelling foot. At this point, my blistered foot had puffed up a lot, fighting off infection. It hurt.

Ninja’s parents took all of us out to dinner after we were reunited with Tink, and we ate prime rib, Kobe burgers, salads and more. It was quite the treat! Again, big thanks to Ninja’s parents!

I bought some epsom salts, and soaked my feet while my friends went to the jacuzzi back at the hotel. My foot was definitely fighting off infection, so I soaked my toes and drank my first beer of the trip. It felt good.

Now we are all curled up in beds with nice sheets and pillows. I don’t have to hike tomorrow, so foot care is #1 on the agenda. Here’s hoping there is no need for a doctor, the swelling will go down, and I can hike again soon. Here’s hoping.