Day 40: Back up

Mile 543.7

The Burners’ hot dog and ice cream, although delicious at the time, have not agreed with my belly. Also, when wind turbines actually move, they sound like airplanes!

Short, hot day. Have some pics! 🙂

Day 39: Marching on the spine of a dragon

Mile 534.9
Elevation: Hot

So, WOW. The day started with a dragon (Ouroboros!) and ended with Burning Man. And I sold my first 20 for a hot dog.

I couldn’t sleep much at Hikertown. The trailer reeked of old cigarette smoke–enough that it was keeping me awake, and at about midnight I got up and opened the door (which I found when the wind blew it shut). Also, the shower in the trailer became the public shower after dark, and my little room was next to it, separated by a sheet of particle board. So all the banging and splashing–plus some arguing when a belligerent guy left his soap in the shower and insisted that the hiker who was showering stop immediately and deliver his soap to him. Hikertown had a way of bringing out the ugly in people. I have theories.

My alarm went off at 3:45, and I was on the trail at 4:45. Because Mojave! Or at least, the beginning of the super hot part that also contains the Mojave. Nobody’s really sure about the exact geography–but pragmatically speaking, it’s a detail. (I did find out that we’ve been hiking very close to LA for a while now. And, of course, we’re hiking on the San Andreas fault.)

The trail was a little hard to find in the dark. But by the time I got to the beautiful Los Angeles aqueduct, that open ribbon of silver, the sky was flushing red. Morning, glory!

Except… First ARGH moment: I had to step off the trail for a Code 2, and I pooped green poop. OHMYGOD, I thought, I’M DYING. (I never have just a cold, or just an ache, or just a bump. I immediately jump to the most lethal possibility.) But then I remembered that Bob at Hikertown had plied me with a half-gallon of grape soda. And I had a handy Internet signal, so I googled. Who knew? It’s the blue food coloring interacting with the bile. Heh.

Then the fun started. Desert! It was hot by 8 AM. By 9 AM, the Snickers in my pouch had liquefied in its wrapper. Completely liquid. And the trail snaked atop the aqueduct for miles and miles and miles.

I used my umbrella all day.

The trail’s been very gentle to me. Like today–it was desert hot, but not killer hot. The breeze was constant, but so soft and unidirectional that it didn’t interfere with the umbrella. At every turn, the trail has presented hard or even deadly situations, but under the best conditions. Like that cold snap for areas that are usually baking hot. I’m very grateful.

After a lot of miles, it did start to get unpleasantly hot. My brain started to feel fried. The trail turned onto another road through private land–as far as I could tell, just plots of land where people drive their vacation RVs. And that’s when I remembered it was Memorial Day weekend. Saturday, in fact.

Two families had coolers out for hikers! I’ve never been so happy to see coolers full of ice! At the first one I grabbed an ice cold bottle of water and a hard-boiled egg. Three miles later, an ice cold iced tea. Thank you, generous people! You saved my brain from boiling!

And eventually I hit the wind farm. Dear gods, those things are HUGE. It’s like seeing a nuclear reactor for the first time. The mind just boggles at the sheer size.

The clouds today, by the way, were stunning. Just perfect.

I got to the first water source, at 17 miles–a faucet from the aqueduct. And there’s a group of Burning Man people here making food for hikers! I couldn’t believe it again! They only use their setup a couple of times a year, and they were looking for another use for it when they decided on this.

The Burners are Camp OKNOTOK. Which has a story. They only brought a piece of their setup, but it’s amazing. Red and black tenting, custom joints holding the frame, all hand-made furniture. So a couple dozen hikers ate hot dogs, and drank beers and sodas, and had ice cream sundaes and popcorn, and talked about hiking and Burning Man. It makes me want to go to Burning Man! Even though I’m past the age for it, probably, and not interested in the party.

After a couple of hours, I thanked the Burners and headed out, and left the rest of the hikers to enjoy the party.

Second ARGH moment: A hiker I’ve been leapfeogging with this leg was out of Aqua Mira. I told him I have Aqua Mira for my main water treatment, and my backup is more Aqua Mira, and that he’s welcome to take my almost finished first set, and I’ll use the second set, and I have more coming in Kennedy Meadows. So that all worked out. But when he left, I got back to my tent and couldn’t find my second set. Holy shit. I panicked. I’d just basically given away my water treatment! Except eventually I found the second set. You probably felt my relief in Philly.

(I also lost my little scissors today. That was a blow. I’ll have to replace them or get my head shaved in Tahoe.)

And that’s that! First day of the last two weeks of desert–brilliant. 🙂

Tomorrow I think I’ll do a little walking. It’s all uphill, I hear. Town in 2 or 3 days. Mojave.