Day 36 The Desert is Kind

Miles: 18
Total: 634
Water: 1.5 from Kelso Caches; 2L from Bird Springs Cache

A mosquito buzzes me awake to the promise of sunrise, but clouds have gathered in the night, thick enough to hide it. There’s a tease of pink and then just grey. A welcome overcast morning, dimming the heat of the shadeless expanse of sandy hills below. I can’t imagine needing all the water I carry in this weather, but dumping it as this point seems irresponsible, or at least a shame.

Just down the trail dusty sleeping bags full of night hikers, lying straight on the dirt. They must have collapsed upon arrival and appear to have not moved since. And Water! In the Kelso cache. The happiest I have been to see bottles of water lying in the sun. The desert ahead loses it’s edge as I drink a full liter and then some. Devil Fish pulls up with a car load of hikers who have magically gone from behind us to ahead in a car. He’s been following the herd all the way up the trail, providing all kinds of magic, including keeping this cache stocked. He says he will be up the trail around dinner time with food and promises that there is water there. Still it’s cloudy and cool, with odd raindrops and distant thunder. But the trail goes up and the pack weighs so heavy. I give in and dump a liter, pack now 2 pounds lighter.  

 Jetta Blue’s son Jugz is at the road as promised with water, but also a trail magic accompaniment to resupply for Coyote and Happy Feet. Beer and soda and carrots and grapes. And grilled hot dogs on white bread with all the fixings. I eat one. It tastes like childhood. I go back to vegan food and eat peanut butter on wheat tortilla. And then I eat another hot dog.  

 It’s raining for real now. Hard. In the Mojave desert. On the driest stretch of the PCT. The stretch many have hitched, skipped and jumped past. We take shelter from the unsolicited sky-water under tarps Jugz has rigged from his jeep for shade. What are the chances, only the second rain I’ve had on trail, here among the Joshua trees, and to have shelter too. No one is rushing to leave, at least as long as the beer lasts. 

The rain stops and I move onwards, with hopes that Devil Fish will be at the next cache up with food as he mentioned this morning. I pass the thousand kilometer mark. But alas no food. Just water and a group of hopeful hikers cooking trail dinners in the meantime. We can always eat again if real food arrives. 

A few fat drops fall from the sky and I decide its time to go. I watch the road for cars as I make my way up long winding switchbacks, but still no Devil Fish.

I am up on top of the hills rain is pattering gently on my tent for the first time this trip. Hopefully the wind stays calm. I meant to go on further, to do more miles, but started talking to others who were camped. I am enjoying Chef’s company and she assures me that even if I camp here I can make it to Kennedy Meadows by Friday. “We’re going to Kennedy Meadows!” I exclaim. Also, there are bears in these hills, one sighted last night, and reports of lots of bear scat only a few miles up and I don’t want to risk a night alone in the rain defending my food. Which I no longer have any way to hang even if the trees were big enough. Hoping the raindrops don’t amount to anything and that the seams are still sealed tight. Phone service tomorrow after days without. I am being weaned of services slowly. 

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