Take a Trek

Day 4: Pro Tip

Somewhere on a ridge to Laguna

Miles: 36-42 (6)

There was a wind storm last night. It woke me up, but the crazy weather was fun otherwise. Andy already passed us and Nick is somewhere behind. I have a small lump on my right shin. It’s swelling? I pop a few ibuprofen and try not to think about it. We’ll be in Laguna soon, six miles or so.

  
Laguna is a small community that offers a few basic services and a campground. We walk to the general store, a quarter mile on pavement, and my shin is pounding. I take a seat on the front porch with a dozen other hikers. A few are resupplying in the store, but most are waiting for packages from the post office next door. There’s a guy that looks like Nick Nolte here. He cruised by us on the trail yesterday. When the post office opens, Nick Nolte repositions himself next to Demetre and I. “Watch this,” he says. “Pro tip.” We wait. We watch. The other hikers get their packages, realize they have way too much food, and offer the leftovers to the rest of us. Nick Nolte is first in line for the offering. He takes what he needs, stuffs it in his pack, and heads for the trail. Pro tip. Ha!

My shin is swollen and sore. It’s kinda red and looks generally unhappy. It’s not complicated. I have a gnarly shin splint, something I’ve never experienced before. I tell the boys that I’m done for the day, that I’ll be residing at the Laguna campground for the evening. I assume we’ll be parting ways, then Andy walks out of the store with a twelve pack of Budweiser. And Demetre is right behind him with a second twelve pack. Shin splints suck, but my new trail friends are staying for moral support. These guys are awesome.  

  

It’s a goofy night of fucking off around a campfire. Nick joins us, and we decide his trail name is Butt Chafe, or just Chafe for short. I roll cold cans of Budweiser down my shin, over and over again, and it feels so good. Andy gives me an ace bandage, and Chafe gives me a compression sock. Chase has terrible blisters. Everyone has something. Tali joins us and apologizes for some silly thing that she does. “In America, you say ‘my bad,'” Andy explains. “My bad is what you say when you’re sorry, but don’t actually give a fuck.” It’s funny, because it’s true. My new trail friends are fun. I really, really need this shin splint bullshit to be gone in the morning.