Before the walk into Walker Pass, I tried to adjust the difficult and annoying lower back pad on my pack. I succeeded in making it even more uncomfortable, and I'd vowed, by the time I arrived, to throw the damned thing out and get a new one. Pain in my back combined with pain in my feet from hiker swelling. I'd grown a shoe size and had already cut my shoes to pieces trying to relieve pressure on my neuroma. Gorgeous scenery, trees appearing and fading again into desert, passed by with me barely noticing due to general grumpiness. Every so often, even though I feel it happening, I cannot pause to remember that this is not work and that I should be enjoying it. The worst trail moments are the ones I miss due to pain and distraction.
Growling into Walker Pass, I was unprepared for and at first, barely aware of the rhythmic clapping, increasing in speed and intensity as I approached the "water cache" sign and neared a couple of EZ up shade structures. I looked over with a baffled expression on my face. When I got in range, a hiker handed me a generic can of root beer and clapped me on the back. Yogi, author of the most-referenced book of the trail, the book carried, at least in pieces, by nearly every hiker, handed me a huge quesadilla. I had to finally smile. Far Out, Windsong, Pinecone and Coyote all greeted me. Bastard kindness all around. I know it's just trail magic, but sometimes it feels like charity, and I really don't know what to think about that.
We ate spaghetti with a huge group at dinner, I chatted with Mover and Grasshopper, who were both skipping through, performing some hiking/hitching dance up the trail. After huge piles of food, I pulled up a spot under a big pinion pine next to my buddies and planned a resupply trip into Lake Isabella for the next day.