My next stop is up another mountain. I'd like to make it up there today, if possible. The reality, however, is that I don't know the terrain well enough to know whether I can make it, so I'm not in too much of a rush. I'm walking shortly after sunrise, weighed down by 2 Chipotle burritos.

There are some inclines, but they're reasonable. For the most part, it's rolling hills of rich blue skies and yellow wheat grass.

And arbitrary benches in the middle of nowhere.


There was some condensation on the inside of the bivy, so I take the opportunity to dry everything out in the sun near a windmill and a water source.

Though I'd like to get up the mountain, I'm enjoying the concept of not having to be anywhere in particular. I leisurely snack, and lounge about, waiting for full dryness.

I watched a TED talk the other day that claimed we all get dopamine hits when we sing, or even consider the idea of singing, so I've been using the idea to manage my emotions during the day. I create and sing more masterpieces as the day goes on. You'll never hear them, though. They are masterpieces that belong only to the wilderness.

There's a particular bird in this area that has create a deep bass sound when it takes off quickly. When there's a group of 10 or more that take off together, it's quite alarming. I associate deep bass sounds with large creatures, and when they occur suddenly within 5 feet, there's an adrenaline rush, and sometimes yelling.

Sometimes, I'm singing when it happens.
It's kind of like a bass drop.

Compositions of the trail. Starring myself and the bass birds.

-

Frand!

There's a place part way up the mountain with a spigot of potable well water, so I'm trying to make it there before I take any breaks. When I finally make it, an orange cat meanders up and wants some love. I *accidentally* let some burrito drop, and now I have a new friend.

Unfortunately, this new friend wants to knead with her nails, so I have to keep watch on the thin nylon that most of my gear is constructed from.

I decide to wait a bit at the ranch, because today is a special day. Someone is coming to visit me on the trail. Out here, I have very little connection with the rest of my life, and the fact that someone is coming to visit is super fun.

It's worth missing out on miles, maybe even delaying how fast I get up the mountain. It's working out well, because I'm out of chocolate, and climbing a mountain without chocolate is barely worth the effort.

She brought me M&Ms, Snickers, and Hershey bars. I'm very thankful, for both the visit and the chocolate.

Waiting several hours for my friend to find the spot has put me within range of sunset, so I'll be camping at the ranch for the night. Fortunately, the owner doesn't mind, and lets me charge my battery pack overnight.

Tonight is definitely a cowboy camping night.

I think about the wolf spiders, but I decide I don't care. Not tonight. It will get below freezing, after all.

Several hours into the night, however, my new friend comes to visit. I would be fine with that, except she starts to knead the nylon quilt. That's not ok. I have to pick her up and push her away. Several times.

She doesn't like it, so she starts to gently bite me the next time I do it. That's not ok either, so I push her away.

I feel bad, but I can't let her destroy the gear.

She eventually gets the idea, and stays about a foot away.

I feel bad.

If she would just lie down and share my heat, I would be fine with it. If she would knead without her nails, I would be fine with it.

She sits about a foot off, and I watch her. I may not get any sleep tonight while I'm protecting my gear from her nails, but I do like her. She's my friend now, and we're cowboy camping together.

Something catches her attention, and she drops her head, as if ready to pounce. 20 seconds passes, and she raises her head.

She quickly drops her head in another direction.

And then I realize.

She's protecting me.

From the wolf spiders.
From mice.

From the night.

I do feel bad.

But I love my new orange friend. I will call her Nefertari.

Eventually I drift off to sleep, only to wake up again when she comes back to visit.

The same process is repeated.

I love my new friend.