Mile 88.6 (13 miles, I think)
Highest elevation: 3660 ft
Week 1: 88.6 miles
Blessed silence. It’s a hot day in the desert, with that sun beating down–but when I found a rare spot of shade under a bush, I stopped to listen. You don’t realize, when you’re back in the other world, what silence really is. We forget, or I do–especially back east, when the trees are riotous with birds. There are no trees here. The silence is bone deep, and endless, and so peaceful and in the present. I heard a bird call far away, a drop in all this sunlit silence. It’s amazing, the power of nothing.
Anyway, last night that guy was half right. The wind died down, but it didn’t rain. Talk about silence! The relief was enormous. A day and a night, it felt like I was on an airplane wing.
But at 7:30, the wind came back, fiercer than ever. It was a truly miserable night, holding the tent down with each gust. Eventually I just gave up trying and nodded off. I think I got a couple of hours’ uneasy sleep, and then overslept. I was cranky and fussy all day. I’m really tired. I need a zero, I think. It’s been a week nonstop.
This morning, it was just plain windy, and not nuclear windy. My rainfly had popped the stakes, but the tent was OK. I have enough stakes for a decent pitch, but nothing strenuous. I’ll try to pick up a few more stakes somewhere. And the tent’s got some holes that’ll need fixing. All told… good. The guys who came out of Julian today said there’s a 50% chance of rain tomorrow night. I should be in Warner Springs then, or just outside. And some big heat is apparently coming.
I walked the beautiful flat valley, full of cactus, to Scissors Crossing. That’s an underpass that’s a little famous, but it just looked like… a seedy dirty underpass. Kind of depressing. A place for shady deals and public urination. But there were no hikers there.
I tackled the big climb up out of Scissors Crossing with way too much water–6 liters. It was super hard. I’m carrying stupid heavy amounts of water because I’m still trying to figure out my capacity, and how to play the water game. For instance, there’s a cache at mile 91, but 1) we’re not supposed to rely on those, and 2) I feel like they’re for people who are in trouble. I’d rather be the one who’s not in trouble. But I heard more than one person today who was carrying light–just enough to get to the cache. So I don’t know. Still figuring stuff out. I need to get bettet at the whole water skill. But I’m well hydrated!
Speaking of which–one of my bladders leaked! (A plastic bladder, that is. I only have one of the other kind.) I had it in a dry sack, so there was no damage done–except I’d inadvertently left an envelope of powdered milk in there, too. So I had to deal with a leaky bladder and a sack full of milk. Yuck. I don’t know why I keep thinking bladders are a good idea. I always end up sending them home.
So. End of week 1! I made it 88.6 miles–close to 90. Not terrible. If I can average 100 miles per week for 7 weeks, I think the dream is alive. There are a lot of people around who started within a day of me on either side, so I’m in the ballpark, anyway. I wish I were getting better faster, but it is what it is. From the winter sea-level couch to the high-altitude desert, this is what you get. If I can fix the heavy water carries and force myself to hike later than 5 PM, I’ll be good. Just gotta figure it out. (Also, I still have body weight to lose. As that goes down, the exhaustion will reduce.) All I want is to see improvement. I started the week doing 11/12, and I finished doing 13/14. That’s fine by me. Progress not perfection!
By the way, I started to feel like Wyle E. Coyote today. One brown cliff, then another brown cliff, then another brown cliff–like the old Roadrunner cartoons, when Roadrunner would pass the same cactus over and over and over. Meep-meep!