Mile 369.8 to mile 395-ish
We wake at 6, stumble around. None of us have slept enough; some of us are hungover, some of us are not. I’m glad I’m not much of a drinker- no way I’d be able to hike fast today. And I want to hike fast- I want to keep up.
It’s Baden Powell day! A three thousand foot climb up to 9200 feet. We shuffle around town doing last minute errands; I drink a cup of decaf coffee and eat two lara bars. I feel unbearably hungry; I try to find something to eat in the store but my brain and my stomach won’t agree. Overpriced pastries? No. Snickers? No. Pringles? Maybe.
We are a ragtag band of hikers spread out along the highway, trying to hitch. By and by we make our way to the trailhead and start the manic climb up the mountain; a vigorous wind celebrates our arrival. As we climb in the bright morning the wind grows colder.
“There are three temperatures in the desert,” I say to Guthrie. “Freezing, hot, and freezinghot.”
Today is a freezinghot day. As we move in between sunlight and shade and wind the temperature cycles too fast for us to keep up. I’m sweating, I’m shivering. I’m warm and then the cold wind sucks the warmth away.
The wind cranks up a notch every mile and when we’re at the top the wind is beating us so hard we rush down the other side, trying to find relief. I find a tiny hollow warm with sunlight and stuff my face with potato chips for a few moments. The others sit or keep walking and then I am pounding down the mountainside again, in the relentless wind.
We find relief at little jimmy spring and convene about climbs, campgrounds and endangered species detours. I eat chicken with mustard and mayo, potato chips. I am in love with my resupply this section.
We are wind-battered and weary. There is a roadwalk for the endangered species detour; it’s baking on the road and we’re hot again. We end the day at a campground with pit toilets, picnic tables, flat spots, and other unbelievable luxuries. Traveler and I do sun salutations, Hi-Tech sets up his tent, NotaChance eats instant mashed potatoes and smokes cigarettes. I fix my slurry of cold instant beans.
“The question is,” I say, “am I eating enough to be full while I sleep?”
It’s cold and we burrow into our bedrolls, talking into the night about the nature of existence, love, questions that have no answers.
Photos on instagram.