April 23rd, 2019
Water Cache box 2 mm 26 – Tank mm 50.5
Distance in miles: 24.5
I didn’t sleep very well. It rained lightly in the middle of the night so I had to adjust my tent. Then I was hearing weird noises…we think the drones were flying overhead. There were also coyotes. I woke 5 minutes before my alarm at 5 am and heard a great horned owl hooting. I don’t know where they roost but there is certainly plenty to eat between the rabbits and mice. A mouse scurried right past my door in the early dawn light.
I had to pack a wet tent (condensation in the desert!). We were all on the trail early and caught a beautiful sunrise. It was chilly and I was glad once the sun was up. It was time to play more “find the next marker” but pretty easy since the sun was reflecting off them nicely. The light contrasted everything so beautifully, from the shrubs to the hills. A fresh scent also permeated the scene.
As I walked in the morning, I heard and saw so much bird life. There were quail and many tiny birds I didn’t know. There were also tons of rabbits. Flowers popped up here and there, especially on the cactus. Even the spindly ocatillo were beginning to put a few leaves on. Soon they will look like green pipe-cleaners. Everywhere there was life. I enjoyed this morning so much.
All the videos and pictures I’ve seen of this section betray its beauty. Media makes the desert look dead and forsaken. But when you are in it (during nice conditions) and can experience it with all your senses, you may just find it is very much alive and prospering.
Around 10 am it started to get a bit too sunny so I donned all my sun gear. I even put up the umbrella for a bit. A cool breeze kept it comfortable.
The trail looked like it crossed over flat terrain all day but this was deceiving. It went up and down arroyos and ridges all day…short, steep, and punchy climbs. We caught up to a guy that was on his 3rd day and struggling with a pretty big pack. For a few, this is their first thru-hike. I can’t even imagine given the navigational and water challenges. Now add some climbing to the mix. Ouch. We took a few short breaks but pushed for the 3rd water cache for a long break.
We got there around 3 pm and I decided to make my dinner then. Rain was starting to threaten. We met Peanut, a fast thru-hiker, who took off like a rocket to put in another 10 or 15 miles. Then Relentless and PDiddy caught up. I dried my tent from the morning and packed up just as it started to sprinkle.
I put the umbrella up and for a time it looked like it would just sprinkle quickly and go away. Then it grew dark all around and strong winds began to blow. For the next 6 miles I battled sideways rain and wind, freezing in the process. I finally stopped to put on my jacket and rain skirt, but my lower half was already soaked. Oh well, at least I got to rinse off.
The dirt began clinging to my shoes and my feet felt like lead weights. I hiked very fast though and couldn’t believe it when I got to the water tank, our planned campsite. It had finally stopped raining and I felt like moving on since the area was high and exposed to the wind. But I didn’t know if I would find anything better and the rain might come back at anytime. I found a sheltered spot and hunkered down. Water was pouring out the top of the tank, I don’t know if because of the rain or the pump was on. I could have taken a shower, if not for being freezing cold. But it was nice to wash my feet and legs, even though they were already wet. It was like having a waterfall nearby.
The four guys set-up on the other side of the tank, right in the wind. We hung out for awhile, talking a lot of shit. To have made so many miles in the first 2 days, all are pretty experienced and with small packs. Everyone has DCF shelters, except for Capt’n, who we teased for it, of course. I also tease him that he is my ‘Stellar Substitute’ because he has big calves like Stellar. But they are not quite as big and he is his own person, not a substitute.
As soon as the sun set I was off to bed. The wind was still blowing but my spot was well protected. I would sleep well tonight.