9/20/16-9/21/16 Interlude

by sedona maniak

The camp host at De Motte Campground made me feel right at home by shouting through the half-open screened window of his monstrous RV that there is no special "backpacker" campground and I'd have to pay what everyone else pays.  I hadn't inquired about a discount, however, but whether there was a space that the Park Service wanted to shove "walk-ins" who would not need RV hook-ups, and therefore would not be taking up the precious space allotted for such.  This is the case in many organized campgrounds, and was intended as a polite inquiry. Before I could explain myself, the little sliding window slammed shut against the downpour under which I was standing unprotected, and I hobbled to the nearest open campsite (these were on fairly level spots, which alleviated my concerns about being washed into the eroded surfaces of the burn).  I dropped my pack, walked back to the fee collection station, grabbed an envelope, and realized I'd forgotten to look at the site number.  Another damp, excruciating hobble later, I'd put cash into the envelope, filled out the soggy thing in the rain, and had made a bet with myself regarding whether the few dollars' change for my 2 night expected stay would actually be given back to me.  (It wasn't.)

I set up my tent as quickly as possible on the little afterthought of a gravel sandbox provided, next to the metal fire pit, as a space for the children of Real Campers to put up their little pussy tents while moms and dads eke out alone time in campers with adequate leaf springs.  During an endless deluge, as all tent dwellers will attest, it is impossible to keep the floor of a tent dry while wrestling down a rain fly in slick wind.  The bathtub floor became just that, as expected, by the time I began putting myself and stuff inside the tent.  I used my spare shirt to mop up what I could, blew up my air mattress as a lifeboat on which to place dry items, and set to creating a brief home. 

Inside my shoes, evidently, water had had some negative impacts, particularly in the blistered areas.  That is to say, well, my feet looked like this when I finally removed my shoes:

Yeah, I walked on those for awhile.  And this photo was before the REAL infection...

Yeah, I walked on those for awhile.  And this photo was before the REAL infection...

So, I spent the first rainy night drying out my feet and wondering at the obviously IT band related pain in my leg (from hip to hamstring to quad to knee to ankle and back again).  The next day was pouring as expected, and I spent most of it groaning and injecting Neosporin into the open areas of the huge blisters.  Occasional stumbles to the nearby pit toilet made me long for the trail, which is generally deserted, meaning that I don't usually have to go so far.  Around noon on that day of damp, tent-hiding luxury, a kind-faced woman with long salt-and-pepper hair yoo-hooed at me from outside.  I unzipped my tent to a peace-offering smile next to a jug of water which had been placed next to the flap.  "I thought you might want this," she said, clearly intrigued with my presence.  We chatted about backpacking and about her own solo car trip to visit her brother on the east coast.  She wanted me to understand how she was taking her time, camping along the way, avoiding the directives of the menfolk in her family, hahaha, etc.  I listened, understood that she was lonely for the company of independent women, and accepted that, for the courtesy of listening and agreeing with this woman who clearly needs to get out more, I would be paid in clean water and her wooden sign reading "site taken," which might save me a few angry headlights for a night.  RV people are never happy to see a tent and no vehicle in a site, especially after they've partially pulled into the seemingly vacant site.  They also seem to have no desire to read the dates on the tags posted on the site entrances.  But I digress.  She eventually drove off in a 90's Subaru festooned with bumper stickers proclaiming everything from vegetarianism to the rightful color of Lake Tahoe.  I drank the entire gallon of water that day.  Thank you hippie lady!