Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 4 : Siesta at Rodriguez Spur

19.9 miles today
2587 miles to go

Up at the crack of dawn. Literally, squeezed myself out of the comfy warmth of my goose down cocoon into the brisk dawn air as the sun popped his happy head over the horizon. Good morning world, good morning dirty, dusty thru-hikers. The chilly air blows past my tent, woooo wooooo, rattling the frantic like a sail luffing in the wind. I should have staked it more tautly. I go through my morning routine, only it's still too new to be called a routine. I spend a lot of time sitting or standing staring blankly into space thinking, “ok, what do I need to do next?” Braveheart’s already up and her tent is down and packed by the time I emerge from my tent. The steady breeze is cold enough to make my hands ache. Won't be long till I'm in the desert imagining cool air.

As I pack I look into one of the side pockets of my pack. What??? My vanishing spork has reappeared. I don't need a spork for breakfast so I laugh and show it to Braveheart. She said, “Where are you going to put it so I can remind you when you can't find it again?” I might just ship it home if I can find it again when I am close to a Post Office. Braveheart suggested that my trail name might be Vanishing Spork.

What a great day to be alive. What a wonderful opportunity it is to get to do this. I walk alone, seemingly, a little narrow ribbon of trail winding like a snake through California, Oregon, and Washington. I ponder the reality of thousands of others just like me on the trail at the same time. All able to be alone with our thoughts. 

I listen. crunch crunch go my steps on the sandy trail, other than that at a slight whisper of a breeze, I hear nothing else. The sky is clear blue and the air has warmed enough and the sweat on my shirt feels good when the light breeze hits it. I saunter at my own easy pace. Braveheart is long gone. Down the trail before I finished packing. The trail leaves the ridge and begins its decent down, down into the heat of the desert. I pass Meg on the switchbacks both of us enjoying the view north to where you can just see Mt San Jacinto beckoning on the horizon. At the bottom of the switchbacks I find Greer hunkering under a bush pulling stickers from his socks. He's attempting the hike in sandals and socks. He's hard core. 

My trail takes me to Rodriguez Spur water tank. The last trail water for as least twenty miles. Everybody stops here. I stop here. It's noonish. I only have another five or so miles before camp. I plan to tackle this hot waterless section in two days rather than the one day I did last year. I search for some unoccupied shade. It's hard to come be here. There isn't much to begin with and like I said, everybody stops here. I work my way up the hill to the concrete water tank. I find Braveheart dodging the sun in the small sliver of shade next to it. “Hey there you are!” I say. “Great minds think alike,” she said. She goes to refill her water bottles I move a little further up the hill and find shade under a bush. Perfect! I bring my umbrella and crawl under the prickly branches until I am fully shaded. For lunch I consume a tortilla wrapped around mayonnaise and tuna. Then it's time for a couple hours of siesta.

It's time to move. Our plan is to hike to mile seventy three. We leave the water source with everyone gathered around it in the shade and head out into the glaring sun. Two hours rest was great. Now that the hottest part of the day is past it should be easy. There is a gusty wind from the west. I'm not sure if it signifies anything or if it's normal. It keeps it relatively cool. It's mostly downhill and I step down on the balls of my feet, almost like I am tiptoeing down the hill. I do this because the blisters on the sides of my heels hurt when I step down hard on my heels. I have also taped both of my second smallest toe. Is that the ring toe? Anyway, I taped them because they were getting blisters too. My feet are in sorry shape. I have to prop my feet up on my food bag to keep my heels from resting on the ground. That hurts so much that it's hard to sleep. Other than my feet I am feeling great. I feel strong when I climb the hills. I don't ever really feel winded or out of breath. I like to think that has a lot to do with all the training I did. 

Today's the day I try my first Gu Rocktane energy gel. I have to say it's pretty slimy and doesn't taste all the great. I force the whole thing down, one slurp at a time. When it's gone I'm glad. I feel like I could keep hiking so I do. It's windy so using my umbrella is out. The sun sinks lower and lower. The day is getting tired. The dregs of the late afternoon heat mix with the dusty swirling wind. It's parched and dry out here. I pull out the spicy Cajun peanut corn nut trail mix I bought at Mt Laguna and munch on that. The spicy burn on my lips reminds me to drink more water.

Speaking of water. This next section is really dry with no water for thirty two miles if you exclude the cache. Which is what you're supposed to do. If I divide the thirty two miles by four miles per liter I calculate that I need eight liters. I fully tanked up all my water bags so that I am carrying seven and three-quarter liters. Not quite eight. I will either have to do without or perhaps pick up a liter at the cache if there is any when I get there. It's kinda scary heading out into the desert knowing you barely have enough water. It's even more scary to know that this means back to back dry camps with potentially no water resupply in the middle. Super exciting!

We reach then pass the campsite we had planned to stop at because of the wind and the exposure to the late afternoon sun. No one feels like sitting in a tent in the sun without any shade. That's a miserable pastime. I had rather keep hiking. We finally stop about one mile short of scissors crossing. I feel tired and my feet are sore I have a limited amount of water so I really don't have a way to get clean. This is about as raw and real as it gets. All we need is a little rain and blustery weather and things will be even more uncomfortable. I really can't imagine how to do this for the next five months. I am only thinking about the next few days. My goal is Warner Springs and my first resupply box. That is at PCT mile 110, roughly thirty four miles from here. 


  1. You're doing great, Scott. And I can't believe you post every day... Amazing. Just keep walking, step by step!

  2. Vivian: "Grandaddy, are you having fun over there? Are you doing something right now? Do you have bandaids out there? Do you have plain bandaids or princess ones? Are you having fun in the desert? Where do you cook food, then? What should you eat for breakfast, Grandaddy? Do you like eggs for breakfast? I had yogurt and an omelet with cheese inside and sour cream on top and that was so yummy. I ate it all and drank my juice all up. It was just so yummy."

  3. Nice Scott! Vanishing Sport :)

  4. I'm a little jealous right now scott...enjoy the journey!-ian

  5. So sorry about your feet! When you talked about training with your shoes loose to toughen up your feet that you had a great plan and that you would be that guy with feet as tough as nails! Keep on keeping on! Praying for you, brother! God is whispering to you through those winds!

  6. GU's are horrible tasting BUT sometimes a necessary evil. They pack small and deal with temps well. Keep your fat intake up so your hormones have cholesterol to be built from.