Twice before I have hiked a particularly beautiful trail through the Cascades, but both last year and the year before we hit the pretty part at the end of a long, painful hike and there was no time to stop. This year, I was determined to just sit for a while in the pretty meadow, so I gathered up some friends, ordered up a permit from the Forest Service, conceded the need to get up at a ridiculously early hour, and off we all went.
The day was charmed. The sky was blue until we headed home. The temperature was cool until we hit the meadows. The smoke from the wildfires across the mountains had miraculously lifted. The air was clear all the way to the mountain near Gone West. The route we took this time was only 12 miles, and all four of us were fit enough to be fine with the length.
The company was perfect, too. I have been realizing how very much I enjoy spending time with people who, like me, talk in stories, and all three of my companions did just that. We kept a constant flow of stories up through the trees and over the lava and through the meadows.
I kept saying, at every view, "[State of Happiness], you're so pretty." Over and over, I beamed with happiness. It was perfect, just perfect, all of it.
We hit the pretty meadow in time for a late lunch, and we sat among the sparkling obsidian to dip carrots in hummus and pass around sour candy. I laid down and put a big piece of obsidian under my head as a pillow. The sun shone warm on my head as I drifted almost to sleep.
The beautiful thing about hiking a 12 mile hike that begins at an obscenely early hour is that part of the day remains upon completion of the hike, and we took advantage of that remaining time to head to the nearby hot springs and lounge in good hot water.
I may or may not have felt dizzy by the end of this, but it was not until I'd driven all the way back to Universe City with increasingly sharp hunger pains (restaurant tally on the drive back: closed = 2, full to the brim with bingo = 1) and ordered food that finally, finally came and tried to eat it and found myself feeling sick to my stomach that I realized that I was incredibly dehydrated.
When I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, it was not my muscles that ached (12 miles. please.), it was the rest of me. I was actually afraid to look at my camelback to see how little water I'd drunk yesterday.
12 miles. 8 hours of hiking or lying in the sun. 1 hour in hot springs. 3 hours of driving.
1 liter of water.
What an amateur. I know better than that.
So today I spent the whole day force-drinking myself. I haven't had to do that in a while.