358 miles hiked
Our friendly local shuttle-for-hire, Al, an enthusiastic dude with an expansive knowledge of the area, drives us the two hours back to the lower end of Last Chance Creek canyon where we last left our footsteps. Thank you Al! En route I eat the three things that seemed appetizing to me this morning in safeway with my strange lack of appetite, post-fever: raspberries, four chicken wings, and a pint of the new Ben & Jerry’s nondairy icecream, caramel fudge coffee chocolate candy sugar swirl ribbon bits overload flavor. I share the pint with Dan (although I am a total advocate of the icecream-pint as serving size, there’s no shame in that). The icecream is actually pretty dissapointing- Ben and Jerry’s seems to have done that thing that non-dairy icecream makers sometimes do- it tastes like it’s low fat, or something. Fat is the point of icecream. That’s why icecream tastes good. But unless you use coconut milk, I imagine making fatty-enough nondairy icecream is hard to do. Coconut milk is expensive, resulting in a product that’s too expensive, maybe, for one’s usual buyers. Still, I’m grateful for the nondairy icecream. It’s gentle on my stomach right now, and icecream is a fun thing to eat on a long car ride back into the desert.
Al drops us off at noon, then we have seven miles up Last Chance Creek canyon to where we finally rejoin the Hayduke after our Non-Existent Spring/Old Trailer Full of Propel Alternate. I feel pretty good, and we’re cruising, relatively speaking. “Hayduke Cruising” is anytime one breaks 2mph. Whoah there! We reach the Hayduke and take a break. I’m hungry, so I eat some food. Then I feel really sick. Like I’m gonna vomit. And super tired. Ok, I guess I’m still feeling kind of wiped out. After three more miles I have to throw in the towel. We pitch our tent on a nice sandy cow-trodden bench next to the wash. I’m too nauseous to eat any dinner. I feel sad and dissapointed. Am I broken forever, or just still recovering from that fever that took me out? There’s no way of knowing tonight, on this sandy bench in the desert, and that’s a hard pill to swallow.
A little stream runs through the wash here, but it leaves ye ol’ alkaline residue on the rocks, so we’re not going to drink it, just yet. We packed out 6 liters each, and hopefully that will get us far enough to find a better water source. I hope so. Drinking the alkaline water is hard on almost everyone, as it contains sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium chloride (table salt), and magnesium sulfate (epsom salts, a common household laxative). But I think it’s especially hard on me, because of the chronic GI issues I already live with. Every time I’ve had to drink it, so far, I’ve ended up with diarrhea that leaves me wiped out for 24 hours. And then this last time I got a 24hr fever in addition, although that may have been from something else. As far as I can tell from what I’ve read, though, the section we’re in might be the roughest one, drinkable-water wise. If I can make it through this, maybe I can finish the Hayduke. Or, maybe I’m totally broken. Who’s to say! I fucking love this trail though. It’s the most challenging and sublimely beautiful trail I’ve ever hiked. I love being out here, with Dan. The challenges of the route command complete focus, and drive all the bullshit I usually obsess about out of my brain. That combined with the dreamlike beauty of this hidden land fills me with Zen and peace. I can’t think about quitting right now.
The puddles were full of (baking soda adapted) tadpoles today, all those clusters of frog eggs becoming cute quasi-frogs. Now the sky is darkening and the adult-frogs are croaking all around us, looking for other frogs to fuck. I don’t know how the story goes, but I’ll make it up in my head- more fucking, more eggs, do as much as possible while there’s still water in the wash? Then, what happens when the wash goes dry? Where do the frogs go? Do they migrate to another wash? Dig down in the sand to where it’s wet and hide? What do they think about in there? Fucking, probably.