Wednesday, April 15, 2015

That Doesn't Sound Like a Vacation

I have never hiked in Southern California. When people ask me where I am going on vacation this year I tell them that I am going to hike for two weeks on the Pacific Crest Trail starting at the Mexican border. I call it desert hiking, although an experienced PCT thru hiker told that the desert doesn't really start till you are in the Mojave which is another hundred miles north. To me this will be desert hiking and I have no experience desert hiking, so I am going to learn this year. My goal is three hundred and fifty trail miles.

Hot, dusty, dry, prickly, windy, parched are words that I think of now that describe my two week trip. From the reports of others who have hiked this section I hear there are lots of rattlesnakes, coyotes and ants. Ants have never bothered me before but I only mention them because others have mentioned them. The last rattlesnake I saw, I ate. That's a different story. I don't plan on eating any more snakes. Then there's coyotes. we have those around the town that I live. Every now and again on a warm summer evening you can here a pack of coyotes catch something. They go into a frenzy of howling and yipping that is creepy. They sound like a gaggle of witches cackling as they dump the bat eyes and newt toes into their steaming caldron of potion. No disparagement intended to any witches out there but I am thinking of the evil step-mom in Snow White, or Hansel and Gretel. Get a couple of those gals together and I bet they'd sound like a pack of coyotes ripping a jack-rabbit apart. But I digress...

Hiking alone in the desert is not what most people I know consider a good time or even an ok time. In fact it is the last thing they would want to do. Which brings me to the question, Why do I want to? I don't know, I don't know why I want to any more than I know that I like peanut butter. For years I didn't like it, then one day I tried it and whamo, I found that I had acquired a taste for something that I never particularly cared for before. It's the same with desert hiking. Although perhaps in an earlier stage. I haven't yet ever hiked through the desert. I am at the place where I am willing to try it to see if I will like it. I anticipate that I will, but that is still an open questions. I can say that I want to enjoy it. I look forward to it, so we'll see.

Had a dream last night that I ran out of water somewhere out in the middle of the desert. There is nothing more miserable than running out of water. It's one of my fears. Hot, dry wind sucking the moisture from my skin as I traverse a never ending series of switchbacks on a trail. Where is the next water? Miles and miles... and I am down to a last swig of mostly hot water... now my water's gone. That is one of my nightmares. Most of the stuff we worry about never happens, so I am going to plan to avoid running out of water and not worry about.

I reviewed Halfmile's new 'unofficial' alternate around the Mountain Fire closure. It looks like it adds another five miles or so to my route. Hey cool, it's the journey, not the destination, right? I wasn't planning on stopping in Idyllwild, but this route makes it easier if I change my mind. In less than two weeks I'll be on the trail. Dodging rattlesnakes, melting in the sun, panting for water... I can hardly wait!

No comments:

Post a Comment