Day 12: Fancy Foot Work and a Space-Time Coincidence

4/29

Yes. The room was still dark at almost 8:00. And whatever the foam mattresses are at this hostel are so, so comfortable.

I went and ransacked the hiker boxes, and to my immense relief found the damn tweezers- I guess I actually used them twice, and left them in the bathroom, and someone must have found and tossed them in there. I also found a few snacks and seasoning packets we could build a dinner or two around- I still couldn’t believe how much I’d blundered this resupply. Or maybe I’d made some last minute decisions that seemed extremely clever at the time, and my brain had misfiled those updates. Who knows. Have to wait and see if the missing pieces show up in other boxes.

I worked on journal entries for quite awhile, then Prana and I set out for chores. To the post office, to return the useless net tent for a refund and return the culled odds and ends from our packs to my parents, who were functioning as our ground control. To the food Co-Op… “Wait, is it really a good idea to go there hungry?” Prana asked. “We should probably eat lunch first.” To the Brewery, then, for their portobello burgers stacked with a garden of sautéed veggies and sweet potato fries. We ordered a flight to sample each of their beers, and even had desert, a brownie sundae for Prana and an orange cheesecake for me. It was all mind-blowingly delicious.

Stuffed, we went to the Co-op, where it was now hard to shop because I was too full. I couldn’t imagine wanting anything. “Local duck eggs, or local chicken eggs?” Prana asked. “Wow. Whatever you pick.” We went with chicken, since we were committing ourselves to a dozen. Luckily they had waxed floss (most expensive, high quality floss you can imagine) which saved an additional mile walk to a pharmacy. A hoagie roll from the bakery completed the list (how long since I’d heard the word hoagie?) and we were on the way home.

I took the coarse-grit sandpaper I’d gotten from Brendon (the amazingly helpful and excellent proprietor of the TC Hostel) outside and rolled up my sleeves. An hour later, I’d removed most of the hoof-like layer from my feet. I filled a clean oil pan with warm water and Epsom salts, and soaked them while I journaled some more. When I stood up another hour later, my feet felt like new.

We tidied our gear and packs to make leaving in the morning easier, (never easy after a day off) and Prana started peeling the eggs he had hardboiled. Now, I know we’ve both made lots of hardboiled eggs in our pasts, even on trail, but it must have been too long ago. I’d offered the method I thought I remembered, and between us, the eggs had raw pockets and were just short of impossible to peel. “I’ll help,” I offered, and nipped into the main kitchen to return the Epsom salts to their drawer. I turned from the cabinets to see a skinny bearded person, arms out and jaw dropped, staring at me.

“Shut. The. Fuck. Up!!” I exclaimed, with class. “Oh my god! What?! CAN I HUG YOU?!” It was our friend John, co-worker of two winters ago in Yellowstone, whom we had commiserated with and talked hiking with through the long, dark, non-hiking season, all geeking out together when someone got a new map set.

“What are you doing here?! You have to come back and surprise Prana!”

“I just got done hiking the Mogollon Rim Trail, and I randomly ended up here while I figure out how to get home,” he said. “I only found out Silver City had a hostel because of the guy who gave me a ride.”

Prana was just as incredulous and delighted. We sat John down to chat while we continued our tedious project. “And then as I was coming down these cliffs I was berating myself out loud…….what in the world are you guys doing to those eggs?”

Perhaps the hours were Covid-dictated, but Silver City rolls up its sidewalks very early, so I called in another Forrest pizza for pick up, and when we realized we’d missed the chance to get ice cream by one minute, we all went to the brewery for a beer instead, and swapped more stories while we waited. “Oh my god, look at the floor!” A Pac-Man tape-job led to the back patio. It was packed, and even though we sat outdoors, even fully vaccinated, I was acutely weirded out to be there- I suppose due to the conditioning of the last year. I am so, so grateful to be vaccinated.

Prana and I picked up the pizza and walked yet a new way back to the hostel, where we reconvened with John, who arrived bearing green chili cheese fries and a 6 pack. He’s a funny, funny guy, almost mistakable for cynical, but so spot on and witty and animated it eases the reality that’s being dissected rather than bringing you down because of it. At the insanely late hour of 10:00 pm we called it a night.

pc: Mtn Prana

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