From willow spring to ridgeline around mile 636
I turn off the first alarm, then hit snooze for the second. It’s light out, and cool, and if I get up now everything will be so much easier, but I just can’t. J finally makes the move and gets up. We have water to filter before we can hit the road.
The water bottle we’ve been using with our sawyer squeeze appears to be holding up, and the patch job on the platypus bladder looks ok. Good. We need the capacity. We water up to full – 8 liters for J and 6.5 for me. Oof. A lot of people think we’re crazy to carry so much water, so much weight. But as I see it, being thirsty and down to one liter for twelve miles before another unreliable water source is a heavy thing to carry too. I’ll take the water. With all the filtering, we don’t hit the trail until 8. It’s sunny and hot, what a surprise.
The first mile and a half are on a road back up to the trail. Ten minutes in and I’m slick with sweat – J is dripping. I’m worried about the next thirty miles, but we come up on a saddle and there’s a breeze. We’re instantly twenty degrees cooler – maybe we’ll make it after all.
The trail is difficult – it has this roller coaster thing going on, so you step uphill 3 steps, downhill 2, up 4, down 3, up five, down 2, all of it wallowing on deep loose sand. The downhill stretches are miles of tiny uphills, the downhill are rows of uphills. But then there’s a beavertail cactus is bloom, a bright pink splash in this land of blue and gray and brown, and the breeze is blowing, and the Joshua trees are weird, and the sun is shining (the sun is always shining). It feels good to walk.
There’s a water cache at mile 631, ten miles from willow spring, on a dirt road that stretches from nowhere in the east to nowhere in the west. “Who maintains this?” I wonder. There’s only ten gallons left, so we only take a couple liters between us, just to take the edge off the thirst, cook some mac’n’cheese.
We have a big climb right after. We blast it. There are trees and shade on top.
The plan was to do twenty miles today and have a short day tomorrow. We’ve heard it’s a hard hitch to lake Isabella and we want to give ourselves a buffer. At 16 miles a campsite calls my name. I’m done. 7pm is bedtime tonight.