Mile 55 to mile 71
The tarp is so low that it smacks me in the face as it whips in the wind. It makes it hard to forget that there are gale force winds outside, although it is surprisingly calm inside. I pull my quilt over my head and try to sleep.
It’s an uneasy night for the both of us. When we both wake up in the middle of the night, one of the corner guylines has snapped and the ridgeline is sagging. Like a true hero, J goes out to fix it. I’m surprised it’s still standing.
It’s finally lightening outside so we take a peek: fogged in with driving mist and stiff winds. “Maybe if we wait a while it will get better,” I say. J doesn’t need to reply because right then two more guylines snap, then a third. Half the tarp is loose and beating crazily! We snap into action ourselves – I hold the tarp corners while J stuffs sleeping bags. Fastest pack-up yet. Our teeth are full of sand.
The adrenaline carries us a couple miles before the lack of breakfast starts to wear. My morning optimism has come through again, and J and I marvel at the view between the clouds racing around us as we walk in crazy zigzags down the trail, floundering in the wind. A beautiful orange and black bird is sitting on a branch, singing, the little crackpot.
Our goal is to make it to the Sunrise trailhead four miles down trail. It has water, and more importantly, outhouses. An outhouse has doors and walls – a respite from the wind. I’m so so hungry and all I can think about is a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of hot coffee. I don’t even like oatmeal.
The outhouses have a pile of hiker packs in front of them. We won’t be the only ones cooking our oatmeal in the bathroom this morning. (I never ever thought I would do this. Part of me keeps screaming: gross! gross! The other part just needs a break from this wind and is hungry and tired.) Everyone made it through the night with nothing worse than a collapsed tent. Hopefully we make it through the day. This is hypothermia weather – 50s, driving mist, high winds. It’s odd that just a few days ago it was in the 90s and dry dry dry. (I didn’t know it was that hot when we started this hike. Maybe that’s why we got so many blisters.) I take a minute to fix the tarp, and it turns out that every guyline on it is abraded nearly through. I don’t have enough extra cord to replace them, so I just cut them off and retie the good ends together.
The clouds finally lift but the wind is relentless. I’ve got on my rainpants and the windshirt my mother made me (thanks Mom!) and I bless them all day. My feet are feeling much better and my knee’s not bothering me much but it’s hard to make good time with the wind. With all the zigzagging and staggering around you end up hiking twice as far. The trail is taking us out of the green hills of the south into the desert mountains to the north. We stop to water up at a spring at mile 68 and a handwritten sign warns us that the water cache at scissors crossing is no longer being maintained. That means our next water is in 33 miles. We water up to full capacity: 9 liters apiece. We make it three more miles before giving up on the day. Good night.