Miles today: 19.4
Trail miles: 635.3
Spinning on the turntable: The Cranberries: In the end
I woke at 4AM today and started hiking by 5AM to get a jump on the heat. The weather forecast just looked unpleasant.
The early morning hike was quite nice though!
It’s been so hot lately that I just have my head down and I’m working to move from point A to point B. For a few hours I was reminded how beautiful it is out here. Once it became really warm I was back to head down mentality.
As I was hiking up a hill I was startled to see an abandoned school bus. How did it end up in the middle of nowhere? I saw no roads nearby. How long ago did it land here? So many questions to ponder as I hiked onwards.
A mile or two later I saw this gem on someone’s property. Again, so many questions!
I saw this just a few hundred feet after the rusted out car. I’m assuming it’s another gold operation.
I did spot a heavy equipment operator working and stopped to chat with him. He works in this exact area about once a year cleaning up the gravel roads around this piece of property. The roads were a work of art! He told me that he’d just seen two bobcats and often sees deer on the property.
I’m not sure that the forecast I obtained was exactly correct for my location. I’d guess it was between 85 and 90.
I rested under a Joshua tree for my mid morning break. The shade relief was most welcome. I contemplated taking a nap but I could hear the lizards moving around the tree branches. Once I started thinking about lizards I started thinking about snakes…and break time was all over.
Say! Remember the caves I told you about? I shot pictures from the outside but wouldn’t go it? Turns out some hikers got stuck in one of those caves. They were chilling out in the cave when a rattlesnake decided to chill out at the cave entrance too! It’s the heat! Every living creature is trying to escape it!
I made it to the water cache around 12:30. I refilled a bottle of water (I drank about 4.5l this morning) and drank it all. I relaxed under a tree and ate, napped, drank and chatted with a few fellow hikers. I’m again humbled by the faceless, nameless volunteers who drag water into the middle of nowhere for strangers.
I did notice a few negative comments about some of the UL hikers that arrived at the water cache completely empty on water. Sounds like they try to minimize the water they carry to hike faster. When they hit the water caches, they hit them hard. I arrived with enough water to get me to the next water site (13 miles) if this site was empty. I’d need to night hike, but it was doable. The razor this margin for error that some of the UL hikers leave for themselves is crazy to me….but if it works for them….
Yesterday I was watering up at the last waterhole before a long dry stretch. Everyone knows that there’s a unofficial water cache though about 6 miles past this last waterhole. It restored some of my faith in humanity when I saw three hikers loading up to max water carrying capacity because they didn’t want to hit the water cache too hard. Class act! Bravo!
I had a 1600 foot uphill climb when I left the water cache/shade tree around 3:30. The climb took about 2 hours. I entered into the beyond sweaty category. I was literally dripping sweat from my shirt sleeves. Crazy, crazy hot.
Now, several hours later as I type this, I recognize the need to eat, but I’m not really hungry. I know I’ll need energy for tomorrow so I’ll eat.
After I swapped txt messages with one of our sons, (thanks for the encouragement!) I stretched out in the tent and just laid here.
I am ready to move out of the desert. The tan on my legs is freaking fantastic, but I’m slowly drying out. A lot of the hikers are combating the heat with huge daily miles; 30 to 35. I saw a note in a hiker registration box yesterday that I love. “First one to Canada loses.” Relax! Have a home brew!
That’s not to say that miles aren’t important. At some point you must be able to log longer miles when the situation dictates. Long stretches between water holes is a prime example. If you can’t do the miles between the water holes, and you can’t carry enough water to make it, you shouldn’t be out here. Harsh? Yes. I’ve seen several hikers who are counting on divine intervention (literally) to help them survive from waterhole A to waterhole B. I’m crazy appreciative of all the trail magic, water caches, etc. yet I believe I have ownership in my own fate. I would never hike between two long distances if I wasn’t highly certain about the water situation. Sigh. End of rant.
Tomorrow I’ll hike a 15 and meet up with Noelle. After that I have about fifty miles to Kennedy Meadows.