Started: 07:20 @ MM 587.4 – Camp Dustbowl (Elevation 4,689ft)
Finished: 18:30 @ MM 608.9 – Landers Meadow Camp & Spring (Elevation 6,248ft)
Food: Oatmeal, Granola Bar, Cliff Bar, Tortilla w/cheese & salami, Tortilla w/PBJ, Dates, Trail Mix, Chicken & Rice, Gummi Bears
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 2, Days since laundry 3
Ordinarily I would consider myself to be a morning person. In the “real” world I’m always up and at it by 6am and generally with an annoyingly cheery disposition. However, in the “trail” world I seem to struggle. Evidently it’s the temperature that’s causing the problem, I certainly can’t blame a lack of sleep. In trail world I’m typically pushing up the zzz’s by 9pm. Granted it might not be the best quality sleep but it’s not bad. The body adapts remarkably well to its environment. No, it’s definitely the cold!
I am awake just before 6am. I can hear Chance rustling about in his tent and then the all too familiar puffff of a deflating air mat. I desperately want to stay in the snug of my feathery nest but this is not the time or the place for a on trail nero, we must go in search of water! When I finally emerge, Chance is hopping about camp like the White Rabbit … “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” I absolutely refuse to follow him down the rabbit hole of competitive frantic hiking. I calmly go about my usual breakfast routine … all the while bleating and moaning about the cold. Chance heads off and I get to finish my coffee in peace!
As I begin my day’s hiking I ponder the rabbit hole. The trail has a curious way of sucking people in, only to spit them back out, broken and beaten, a little further up the trail. There has been a definite shift in hiker mentality and attitude over the past weeks or so. The preponderance now seem to be slowing down, either out of choice or as a result of injury or illness. I myself came to the conclusion back at Cajon Pass that I was here for the journey not the destination. However, it’s remarkably easy to get caught up in the race again. I needed to stay mindful of such perils!
I rounded a corner on the trail to find Chance enjoying a rare but much needed change of pace. There was a big mile marker coming up and he wanted us to cross it together. After my second breakfast (and I think Chance’s third) we headed off to find the stones! It was remarkable to think that I had walked 600 miles (give or take a few fire closures) and yet I wasn’t even a quarter of the way along the trail. I tried to put this distance into more meaningful terms … It is the equivalent of walking from London to Milan or from Auckland to Wanaka! It’s a very long way!Once the day’s big climb is done we finally leave the last of the wind turbines behind and find ourselves in a most un-desert like lush and leafy woodland. “Who knew?” I thought to myself. The trail was beautifully shaded and offered plenty of protection from the midday sun. I happened upon Bagel who was trying to even out the ridiculous hiker tan in his underwear. I liked Bagel’s hiking style. He had been on the trail since February and was just pottering along at his own pace. In needed to take a leaf out of Bagel’s book of thru-hiking!By mid afternoon we had reached the first of the very few and far between springs. I filtered a couple of liters and eat more crap food, before making the final 6 mile push for Landers Meadow and camp. The beautiful forest continued for the whole day and was totally not what I had been expecting from this section. For once the trail surprised in the most positive of ways. The Sierras were beginning to seep into the desert … Just 100 miles to go! … Gulp!