Take a Trek

Day 13: The Wolfman, Seitan, and Paradise

Somewhere Out There to Paradise Cafe
Miles: 131-152 (21)

I wake up late-everyone else already left.. Halfway through my Cinco de Mayo meal yesterday, I realized that my vegetarian tacos had beef in them. It was the first time I’ve consumed meat in over four years. Consequently, I tossed and turned with a belly ache all night and shit my brains out this morning. So that was fun.

I do ten miles before lunch, passing Bailey, Heather, Ben and Kitt along the way. I find the perfect slice of shade nestled between two large boulders, just as the sun reaches the center of the sky and starts to punish all of the life that exists in this arid landscape. Kett eventually joins me, then two elder Gentleman, Lord Byron and Steve. The sun is scorching hot, but the wind and shade are frigid. I layer up, then down. I take my socks off, put them back on, then pull a beanie over my head. I have no idea what I’m doing. I roll a Snickers Bar in peanut butter, eat the entire thing in two bites, and somehow feel better about my wardrobe malfunction.

Everyone on the trail is jabbering about something called the Paradise Cafe, 11 miles up the trail. I’m told they have the worlds best burgers, fries, and beer. I climb twisty, winding switchbacks for four more hours, imagining all of the terrible things I’ll do to my arteries when I get there. Sun-baked sand slowly fills my shoes, until my feat feel like they’re inside of little furnaces. And the dry air turns my tongue to the texture of sandpaper, less I sip on water every few minutes. It’s an experience that many would misinterpret as miserable, but they’re wrong. The desert chaparral is mind bogglingly beautiful. 

 I join a hiker named Jamie at the Paradise Cafe and devour a black bean burger with fries in three seconds. I wash it all down with a double IPA, then Kitt shows up and does the same thing with a cheeseburger the size of his head. He howls a lot while he eats, and I realize that he might be The Wolfman. Jamie leaves the table, then reappears with a red jacket that matches his pants. A unanimous decision is quickly reached and Jamie’s trailname becomes Seitan.

Warning: Extreme heat + extended physical exertion + two beers = stupid shit

It’s late afternoon and the sun is sinking, sucking the heat out of everything. The temperature of the desert swings from hot as hell to cold as fuck at an alarming speed. Our waitress appears and explains that we’re welcome to cowboy camp on the patio for the night. we can have more beers, pass out on the floor, wake up, and get breakfast. “We’ll leave the bathroom unlocked for you,” the waitress explains. “And we can sell you a six pack to drink out here after we leave, if you want.” It’s a difficult proposition to turn down, so we don’t bother trying.