May 16, 2016
Bushcamp (mile 623.5) to bushcamp (mile 643.7)
Today started off great. We slept well. Ear plugs worked wonders diminishing the sound of wind pounding on our tent. The rain fly provided a nice extra layer of protection and took the brunt of the wind.
This trail is all about learning from our mistakes. We now pay attention to the direction of the wind and seek out natural wind blocks in addition to flat surfaces when looking for the ideal camp spot.
Last night we made due with what we could find- at times it felt a little sketchy- particularly when standing up and hitting our heads on Joshua tree spikes. But it turned out to be an awesome spot!
We set out around 7:10am. The wind had died down and the air was cool. The trail was mellow to start and then turned a corner and we started climbing. We climbed up the barren hills toward other brown and similarly barren landscapes.
The trail loosened and soon we were walking on sand. We look at elevation profiles and mileages but this is the “X factor.” This walking on sand business is something you can’t read about or see on a map. It is what makes this adventure both exciting and difficult.
The air was cool and made for comfortable walking. We walked passed Joshua trees and cow patties. It is hard to imagine how cows survive out here but there is evidence of them everywhere so apparently they do, at least in some part of the year.
The trail continued up and then flattened out before dipping down to a dirt road and climbing again. The sand continued.
It made for slower walking.
Laurie’s feet started hurting too – she has a blister on the ball of her left foot and the soft sand put more pressure to the sensitive area than hard trail usually does. She kept going knowing that the discomfort is temporary and will gradually subside with time and miles.
Most moments while walking something hurts, but the pain is temporary.
We left Bird Pass Spring at high noon. According to our calculations we thought we had enough water to get us the 20 miles to Walker pass. Turns out we miscalculated.
We discovered this 1 mile up the 1500 ft climb. Instead of 9 liters, we had only 7. Andy didn’t adjust for the two liters we drank enroute to the cache this morning. He offered to walk back down to the road and get more water but we decided we could make it work. Thus far we have always had extra water and food. We may be cutting it close but we both felt comfortable with what we had.
In light of scarcity, our differences became more evident. Laurie felt most comfortable individually rationing 3.5 liters. Andy felt that Laurie was detaching from the partnership and functioning as an individual. This one example is part of a larger issue and lead to a conversation about money and the future. These underlying emotions and discussion that followed helped power us up the climb.
We feel fortunate that we have created a partnership where we can voice our frustrations, concerns and other feelings as they arise instead of bottling them up.
The issues around scarcity come up now and again and it’s great being able to talk about them and see where we stand now.
Once we crested the hill, we stopped for a shoes off and lunch break. Our socks were wet from the climb. The trail was sandy most of the way up. Great exercise for our ankles but not very pleasant with trail runners and packs.
The trail always provides. This case it provided a lesson in patience and acceptance. This is the trail. There is no other way to go up. Heck, we should be grateful we had a trail to follow!
The rest of the afternoon Andy felt off. The trail was uninspiring and the road walk that followed was unpleasant. He was looking down at his phone while hiking and even stepped in a hole on the trail, resulting in Laurie laughing so hard she peed in her pants a little.
He’s glad the hole wasn’t deeper (we’ve seen some knarly ones) and that he didn’t twist his ankle, or worse.
We had planned to take a shoes off break when we got to the road but decided to forgo the break and push on to camp.
We made it to camp around 6:10pm. Soon Kiter was cruising by when we called to him. He’s camped next to us again tonight.
We ate dinner, followed by snacks and hot chocolate for Laurie.
We enjoy Kiter’s company. We chit chatted until about 7:30, then prepared for bed.
Tomorrow we hope to be on the trail by 6:30am to beat Andy’s parents to Walker Pass Campground. It’s Andy’s dad’s birthday and we want to sing him Happy Bithday when they pull up.
But til then we hope for no rain tonight. We’ve chosen to forgo the fly even though there were threatening clouds and thunder to the east (moving away from us) earlier in the evening.
Tonight we are grateful for opportunities for growth as a couple and hard packed dirt for trail.