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Bridge Creek to Mammoth Lakes: BD, Bubbly and I played pinecone baseball as we waited for Jif to make it down from the mountain. Polka dancing with BD followed. I expressed deep joy and laughter as we twirled around in the dirt.

We made it down to the trailhead and hitched in separate groups to make it into Mammoth. First thing we did was get a pint of ice cream at Vons. There were several other thru-hikers there, so we hung out as we shared snacks and stories.

Bubbles and Jif ordered a pizza and ate it on the curb. We waited for the free trolley to pick us up and drop us off at Motel 6. We did our laundry in the sink and dried everything over the rails. BD applied leuko tape to Mo’s ankles as he was still experiencing some pain.

I caught up with Quadzilla over a phone call. It was sweet to hear how he met a girl whom he became fond of. He shared that he fell in love with a mystical energy about me which inspired him to go down a more adventurous, playful journey with people. He thanked me for helping him see what he was looking for in a woman. It was wholesome to hear, yet I couldn’t help but feel down. I’ve been told that quite often in my experience. It seemed as though I was always the muse, but never anything more. I have learned to accept that at this point… to find beauty in being the other woman, yet I still had days where I longed for a man who wanted to devote himself to me in the long term.

We went to have dinner at Liberty Sports Bar and Grill and our waitress told us a guy wanted to buy us a round of drinks. It was a former PCT hiker who felt inspired to offer some trail magic. I went to thank him! Turned out he thru-hiked the trail in ‘19. He started the trail a week after me and finished a week before me, yet we never ran into each other! We reminisced on stories of the high Sierras and the trials we experienced. My heart expanded.

BD and I went to explore Mammoth. I found a collection of pinecones on the side of a neighborhood road and grabbed one that caught my eye. I named her Cherry due to the red hues gliding off her petals.

I found a spot next to a tall pine tree with a view of town, ideal for people watching. I invited BD to sit with me amongst the fallen pine needles. I took my shoes off to ground myself. We snuggled up into each other and I felt myself melting as he whispered into my ear how much he loved me. He expressed how he has never said so much to a girl he barely knew. He asked where I came from, then goes, “I wouldn’t have been ready if I met you any earlier.” We agreed that we still had our own journeys to complete and that if we were meant to be together we would find our way to each other. He didn’t mind waiting.

With our arms wrapped around each other’s waists, we walked back to Motel 6. He kissed me and I felt as though I was swirling in a sea of passion with the waves of love swaying my heart. As our lips parted, I expressed how in love I felt with him. He turned his body to face mine, pulling me closer. Looking into the depths of my eyes, he serenaded me with a song he wrote… said he waited all night to sing it for me.

We hung out with Bubbly in the room and fell asleep with Cherry between us. Eventually, BD kicked her out because she was stabbing us with her spikes.