Water: 3L from Motel tap; 3.5L from Golden Oak Spring
I head downstairs at 6am after sneaking one last shower. Jetta Blue (who sent me the selfie above thank you!) is there waiting, but I am the only one signed up for a ride anywhere today. “It’s just me,” I confirm.
We drive past the giant wind farm and she tells me it is new, the tall towers have only been here for four years. Concerns about birds, and the general wrecking of the desert. On top of this, there’s no plan and no money for dealing with the turbines when their duty is done. 110 foot towers with 64 foot blades, futures uncertain.
I get back on trail at the place Cheryl Strayed began her hike. My pack with 6 days food and 3L water feels like monster today, but with 560 miles of trail behind me, I still make it up and over the big dry hill just fine. Eighteen miles later, Golden oaks spring is quite the sight: 15 hikers all in a row, napping in the shade. Water is not only running, but cool and clear. I have Utmost Gratitude for those who fixed it; cattle trampled it dry earlier in the season, resulting in a 35 mile waterless stretch back to back with the 43 miles still to come. I rest feet up among piles of cow poop.
My nap is interrupted by things crawling on my neck. First and ant, but then a large tick which leaves me unable to rest. So I filter water, and chat with new hiker friends. At 4pm it still shows no sign of cooling down. So I cook dinner for something to do. A spaghetti with olives, mushrooms and tomato combo that I mixed myself at home It is delicious.
I spend more time contemplating the 40 mile water carry up ahead. Many of the others have not even yet noticed that this is in store.
At 5pm hikers begin to trickle back on trail in twos and threes, and I join in though it is still over 90 degrees. There’s yet another burn area, though the trail is relatively soft and flat. As the sun sets I join forces with Mac and Cheese, happy for company and eager to avoid being alone in the dark; too many recent mountain lion stories. In addition to Tooth Fairy’s encounter, yesterday a group saw one pounce on a rabbit in broad daylight. A story Jetta told be this morning between showing me images of the especially venemous Mojave green rattle snake and warnings of the dry stretch to come.
Just a it gets dark, there’s Poodle surprise. I smell it first, then dodge some on trail, flashback to the terrible tough day that I had almost already forgotten. We get to camp in the dark, feel like hiding in my tent. It’s warm enough to not zip up sleeping bags and I would rather not share my bed with ants or worse.