Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 52: Mile 602.3 - Mile 620.7 + 1.6 mile alternate to Willow Spring

I slept like crap, mostly due to waking up all night checking the clock. We set the alarm for 4:30am and the camp was so crowded I was afraid to bother someone when it went off. I beat the alarm by 2 minutes and gave Josh a nudge. We got up and broke camp quickly and were on the trail by 5:30. It's hard to get up early in the morning but it always makes for beautiful hiking.

We passed through pine forest and rock formations for about 6 miles until we arrived at Landers Camp which has a spring. There we filled up our water for the long dry stretch ahead and ate something more substantial for breakfast. We chatted with fellow hikers for a while before heading back out.

The day was hot and we were happy to have the canopy but it didn't last. Soon we were in an old burn area being baked by the sun but we were happily distracted by the purple and yellow wild flowers that took over the hill. The air was heavy with perfume and we started to get excited about the Sierra!!

The trail wound it's way thru a pass and dropped us steeply back into the desert. Maaaaaannn, no more desert! We pushed to Kelso Valley road where the water report said there was a cache. Even though we could have survived without water from the cache, as we were told to not rely on it, we sure were happy to see it and took the opportunity to drink. We took a liter and hiked on looking for shade when two coolers came into view. Trail magic! Inside the coolers were cold sodas, Gatorade and juice! We had a 7up and split a Gatorade before signing the register book and heading on.

It was blazing hot and we found some shade under a grove of Joshua Trees and lay out for a while airing out our feet and cooling off. We decided to head back out at 3 and that proved to be a mistake. We found another grove of Joshua Trees and hold up for another hour.

Around 5 we headed back out for the final time and climbed out of the valley floor. We were looking for a gully at mile 620 that we were supposed to take to get us to water. We found it without a problem and followed it down, scrambling over boulders and dry waterfalls. Scrambling the canyon made me home sick a bit. It reminded me of weekend trips to Anza Borrego scrambling Goat Canyon, or car camping at Joshua Tree's Indian Cove outside of Rattlesnake Canyon. I loved those trips! You'd climb all day and head into camp or town to eat, sunburned and hands raw from clinging to the granite. I think the part I missed most was heading into town to eat...I'm freakin' starving.

At last we cut out of the gully and headed to the spring. There were several hikers there already and one told us there were tape worms in the last water source. What?! Gross! Good thing we filter!

Josh went to get the water and I went to pitch the tent. I did fine setting everything up on my own until I went to put in the stakes. I banged one in the ground with a rock and it bent. I tried to straighten it out and it snapped clean apart. The whole tent site was on a granite slab and no stakes were going in. I reached for rocks to hold the guy lines down but found a surprise under each one I touched. With miles of open desert why do you have to use rocks in tent sites to cover your shit? Some people's children, I swear.

Eventually Josh returned and helped me get the tent squared away. I tried to finish filtering since he helped me with the tent but my back was killing me and had to stop short. Sometimes I worry about the chore separation between us. I try to make sure it's even-steven but sometimes we have different time tables. For example: when I get into camp I need to pitch the tent and chill for a minute before doing chores but Josh does them as soon as we get there and doesn't stop until they're done. This means he is usually up doing the chores while I'm trying to take a minute to recover from the hike. This has started a running 'joke' that Josh's trail name is Cinderella. I am always worried there is truth in jest but I don't really know how to adjust our chores so everyone's styles and needs are met. I'm sure I'll figure it out as we go and I'm trying to keep and open line of communication going until that happens.

Right now it's 9:30 and I feel funny. I'm hungry and nauseous at the same time and worried Josh is mad at me even though he says he's not. I'm probably just over tired and making mountains out of mole hills. I set the alarm for 4:30am. Tomorrow we do a 30 mile dry section and try to close the gap as much as we can between us and town.

Until tomorrow, goodnight.

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