Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another Long Dry Stretch - (5/25/2014)

Mile 588.1 to mile 602.3
14.1 miles

We were supposed to do a bunch more miles today but the hot weather, lots of uphills, and lack of water changed those plans. It was another hard, ass-kicking kinda day. 

When I woke up this morning I had one of those, 'Where am I moments.' It took me a second or two to figure out that I was in a tent doing the PCT. At least I slept or was sleeping, I for sure didn't want to get up though. I did, we got ready, and hit the trail. Soon after, we came across the cows that were making all the noise last night. I am not sure what all the ruckus was about but they all appeared to be in good health. I guess they just had a lot to say. 

It was around 8 am - 9 am and it was already warm out. Since we were still in the burn area there were no trees to offer us any shade. Thankfully the burn area wouldn't last much longer and the trail would eventually take us through fields of tall grass and oak trees. 

As we were hiking through one of these fields I was forced to stop short because there was a baby rattle snake laying in the trail. It seemed to be oblivious of us and the sticks we tossed at it, so I nudged it with my trekking pole and that woke it up. It slithered away as it shaked its rattler at us. 

A couple of minutes later we pulled over into another field to check out a bone that we saw laying there. It was part of a hip bone from a cow. As we stood there checking it out, Mandie looked up and across the trail and saw a huge rattle snake stretched out sun bathing. We got close enough to take a picture or two and let it be. We would like to think it was the mother of the baby we saw earlier. 

With that excitement out of the way we pressed on. It was getting hotter and hotter and the trail climbed a lot. We were exerting lots of energy and sweating profusely. As we climbed we would go from shady spot to shady spot, trying to cool our bodies down as much as we could. It helped, but there was still more miles to do. 

The trail would eventually take us through a lush, compared to the desert anyway, forest of Pine trees with fields of Miner's lettuce, Fennal, Wild Celery (I think), and lots of other plants that I don't know the name of, below. There was shade, lots of shade, and the ground was soft, covered in decomposing debris and pine needles. It was a teaser for the Sierra. 

The teaser eventually ran out and we were thrusted back out into the hot sun and arid landscape. It was time to ascend our first mountain pass, Hamp Williams Pass. We repeated the process from the other ascents, hiking from shady spot to shady spot. It was brutal, we were hot, hungry, and tired, and like yesterday neither one of us wanted to eat anything. I'm sure that just compounded the problems we were experiencing. 

Like yesterday, neither one of us were feeling especially well hiking in the heat, with little food and water. We were dizzy, had upset stomachs, and we both felt like passing out. I am sure that we both started the day in a deficit from the day before which was making today that much harder. We pressed on the best we could taking lots of breaks as we went. 

During one of our pushes up a mountain we crossed mile 600. Neither of us made much to-do about it; we were tired and just wanted to get to the water source that was a couple more miles away. 

With 1.8 miles left to go, Mandie had a great idea to fill up one of our water bottles from a bladder and make some electrolyte water. Both of us were experiencing the onset of cramping so I thought it was an excellent idea. Since I usually drink less water during the day, I offered to fill up the liter bottle from my bladder. I was only able to fill up half the bottle before my bladder went dry. I was shocked to see how much water I had drank during the day, almost 3 liters, and the bad part was that I think I only peed once. Anyway, we sat in the shade sharing the electrolyte water before making a final dash to the spring. 

We finally made it to Robin Spring and promptly downed a liter of water each. We then made the decision that we needed to camp here and drink as much water as we could so that we could rehydrate ourselves for tomorrow.

Luckily, tomorrow isn't as long of a dry section as the last two days have been but the day after is. After tomorrow, we have a 30 mile section without water. Even though we have looked at it on maps, we aren't quite sure how we are going to get through that yet. I'm sure we will figure it out tomorrow when we are about to leave our last water supply for that section. 

The desert is giving us a final test before we graduate to the big leagues, the Sierra. We will pass!