Trail Camp to Trail Camp
Mile 479.9 – Mile 504.6
As a kid growing up, I never much liked Sundays. It seemed to me that an otherwise perfectly good chunk of weekend was spent going to church, having pancake breakfasts or donuts (mmm, donuts) after church, enduring Lawrence Welk in the late afternoon, and capping the day with the traditional roast beef dinner. Looking back of course there’s nostalgia but at the time, I’d have much preferred double Saturdays.
Today’s avoidance was entirely different and all about beating the heat. I have come to the part of trail where begins the battle with the Mojave.
Early starts have become a staple and it would seem I’m not alone. I saw more hikers today between 6 and 7 than I did all afternoon and evening. There were several packs of younger hikers announcing their presence with their twitterpated chatter long before I would see them. Most hike faster than I but they also take more breaks so we passed each other several times.
I had my umbrella up before 8am and definitely noticed its impact while climbing a sunny hill early. I saw one poor kid struggling a bit with the climb and noticed an ice axe strapped to his pack. That’s about as useful as a bowling ball in the first 700 miles. The most favorable interpretation I could come up with was that he lacks resupply support and therefore must carry everything needed the entire way. There’s a simpler explanation but it’s not as polite.
Around noon, it was time for my newest tactic, the siesta. I descended off trail to the abandoned and overgrown Upper Shake Campground where water was said to be. Off trail miles make me grumpy even if only .6 each way. After collecting enough water from the weak trickle that I found amid nettles and poison oak, I cooked a meal and set my tent up under a shade tree. Stripped to my skivvies, I enjoyed a mid day nap as the heavy cloud of flies expressed their frustration at the lack of an invite.
I waited until 4pm to start again and by then the sun had already gone behind the high ridges on my left. I walked the pleats and creases of those hills and soon passed mile 500. I rewarded myself with an extended FaceTime break before putting the final piece of my plan in motion.
As the gloaming darkened to night, I switched on my headlamp for some night hiking. Of course there wasn’t much to see beyond my immediate pool of light but I did get another 5 sweatless miles done before calling it a day.