We woke and broke camp and started our climb up the road back to the trail. My stomach was still flip-flopping and I was sweating buckets even in the shade at 6am. I felt like something was wrong. Josh offered me a pepto bismol tablet, which I was hesitant to take as I didn't want to throw my body into a bad cycle since it's an antidiarrheal, but I was having a hard time not gagging even when just trying to drink water.
We crested the road back on the trail and saw Chemo-Robbie getting packed up in the distance. Rob is a professor from Washington and has brain cancer, hence the trail name. I am ever impressed with his sense of humor and drive to do the trail. He's an interesting guy.
We continued hiking and the trail became a swath of super soft sand, like beach sand and went up and down in short, motocross style whoop-de-dos for miles and miles. Even the steep up hill sections were filled with little consistent ups and downs on top of the climb, and my feet sunk into the soft sand. Any energy I had was rapidly depleted trying to dig myself up the hill in the hot day. We passed by some old mines, an abandoned car and rusted out bus which gave the feeling of being deep in the desert which was both comforting and unnerving for me.
We sat in the shade frequently and I tried to force myself to eat but I could not get anything to go down. Everything felt like a lead weight in my stomach and made me gag. At some point I bonked hard and had to sit on a rock and have a meltdown while trying to eat a couple gummy shot blocks. I am really learning about my body now and it's reactions. When I bonk, I cry, and that's ok. I know the best way to deal with it is to just cry and eat something. By eating while I cried I was able to override the gag reflex and get some food in. It's like those snickers commercials, I guess, when I get hungry I become a diva. My challenge now is to learn to eat before it gets to the point I am unable to do so and bonk. Having had an eating disorder my whole life, learning how to eat has always been my struggle, why would it be any different here?
Around noon we arrived at a dirt road where a water cache was supposed to be. We climbed out of the trail to the road just before the cache to find some shade. I was so thirsty but the taste and feeling of the plain water in my body was horrible. I told Josh I was going to take a liter of water and mix it with some crystal light so it would go down easier. We talked about how we were feeling and started to brew back up/bail out plans just in case. We decided that if the cache was empty we would walk the dirt road down to Kelso Road where we would have a better chance of finding water and/or hitching out of there. With such little food and me being electrolyte imbalanced we wanted to be sure all our bases were covered should something go wrong.
We walked the road down to the cache and there we saw several gallons of water tied up by the trail, as well as a host of hikers sheltering in the shade. We took a liter of water and climbed up the hill to find some shade of our own. Josh spotted a partially shaded tent site that was at an angle so the shade would grow with the afternoon and we put down our tyvek and mats to sit on. All of a sudden Josh popped up and says, "I just stepped in shit." Sure enough we had found ANOTHER tent site with human shit in it. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?! Josh checked his pack to make sure he didn't set it in the poop and found it was only on the bottom of his shoe and a little on our ground cloth. We moved to a different spot and tried our best to clean everything up.
While we siesta'd I looked at the mountain in front of us and cringed. The cache was full so we weren't going to bail out, meaning I have to climb that mountain. I started to doubt myself and feel anxious and afraid. I didn't know if I could muster the ganas for it. Just then we saw someone head to the cache southbound from the road. It was Beeline from the AT crew. He headed toward us and spotted Josh. "Is that Wildcat?" He called. Josh said yes and Beeline came to sit with us for a bit. He told us he was southbounding this part to make up miles from having to bail at Kelso Road to make the post office. He told us the rest of their crew was at Walker Pass. It seems they're all going into the Sierra together though and we aren't that far behind them.
Just before 5pm we decided it was time to do the deed. We ate some of our limited food supplies and packed up to climb this mountain that reminded me of Morena Butte. We signed the register and started the show. I spent most of the time pep talking myself and thinking about being home with my cats. The gain was not terrible and was spread out over several switch backs, but every time my feet would sink in the soft sand or I'd get a little winded I would have to actively keep myself from freaking out. As we neared the top I started to bonk again and cried while forcing down a granola bar. With every bite of the granola bar I would have to imagine I was eating Olive Garden salad and focus on every detail of it, the dressing, a crouton, an onion.
Once over the hill the sun was setting and we hiked fast toward a dirt road where we would camp for the night. The trail was glorious, hard packed mountain sand, pinyon pines and juniper with stunning rock formations. The sunset cast pink and orange streaks across a cobalt sky and I was so happy to be out of the desert. We put on our headlamps as we approached the road and pitched the tent in between two colonies of ants. I hopped inside and drank a liter of water with Airborne in it in hopes of getting it down and getting some vitamins or electrolytes or something. Josh got me to eat a small tuna wrap and it sat heavy in my guts. I couldn't even write the blog, I just conked out. Right now it's two days later and I'm playing catch up. This was a very difficult stretch for us both. More to come.
Until tomorrow, goodnight.