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Mile 145.4 to Mile 151.8 (Paradise Vallet Cafe)
It was midnight... I had to powder my nose, but it was cold ... it was 1am... still had to powder my nose..but it was colder... hour after hour... I decided it was too cold to answer nature’s call... so naturally sleep was evasive.
Finally at 5:30... I couldn’t stand it anymore.. I jumped out and quickly took care of business ... I got back in my tent - but knew sleep wouldn’t come... I debated ... I could be cold in my tent... or I could be cold hiking down and making it to the cafe 6.5 miles down the road for breakfast. Needless to say... I was on trail by 6:45... I could not feel my fingers the entire 6 miles... there was another snow storm moving in and I was at high enough elevation to get the damp, cold winds and no sun...
I walked into the cafe (about 1 mile off trail) at 9:10... pretty sure I would find Scout, since I never passed him or saw his tent - but only one other hiker had been there that morning - and that I knew was Bill. I ordered breakfast - full on 3 eggs scrambled with cheese, giant sausage patty and hash browns - picked up a package Charlie had sent me and decided I was going to spend the day in the cafe there to rest.
A little while later- Crash, who was camped with me the night before hobbled in and about an hour later Scout... turns out I totally passed up where he had set his tent about two miles before the water source- hidden by some boulders... he was not happy about his first night camping alone ... as Andrea had camped a few miles before him...it’s hard to communicate on trail without cell service.
We enjoyed a day of warmth, beer, amazing food and incredible hospitality- the people at Paradise Cafe had to be raised in the south... and they didn’t care that we were stinky and spilling everywhere - even letting us camp on the porch/outside dining area of the restaurant to weather the storm and leaving us a key to the bathroom (flush toilet and hot water in the sink!) - by the end of the day there were about a dozen of us setting up tents as the storm rolled in...
It will be a cold night... but we are semi-sheltered and our bellies are full. Bill, aka Spirit, who went forward this morning despite the storm (hello special ops colonel in the Army)... sent me the photo above ... and I am glad we decided to wait it out at lower elevation.
The next section has a lot of chatter - a young, recent college grad, Trevor Laher, last year lost his life slipping on ice on one of the steep ridges of Apache Peak around this time in the season... Scout and I decided to use the buddy system and have a plan for bailout points and turning back - if we don’t feel safe. Hopefully the warmer temps the next few days will help us out!