Day 36 5/19
Mile mark 592.9-620 (+1.6 to water)
near Hamper Williams Pass to Willow Spring
It’s the early morning and I’m sitting at a spring discussing the water situation with some other hikers. This section has some of the longest waterless stretches causing me to often carry five to six liters of water(13lbs) on top of a pack fully loaded with 17lbs of food. The two people I’ve been hiking with and I have poorly set ourselves up for water so that we’re ending each night at a water cache instead of a reliable source. Today we want to fix that, but it means a 29+ mile day.
We go over are options one more time and decide to go for it. We haven’t put that many miles in early so we will be hiking late. We all finish getting our water for the stretch at different times and set out by ourselves and agree to meet up later.
The trail changes from a nice shaded path in the trees to thousandth burn area of the trip. I fully grasp that fire plays an important piece in the life cycle of the desert, but I’ve grown to despise these shade less stretches. Not even the medley of purple pleasant smelling flowers makes this stretch much more enjoyable.
Later in the afternoon, I’ve dropped further in altitude and am back in the low desert. I’ve gone around 20 miles and would be perfectly happy calling it a night here, but I know this will make the next few days even harder. I soon run into Solitude and Stumbles and we decide to finish the day off together.
We trudge on and talk for several miles. Soon we hit a big hill covered in loose sand and everyone stops talking and saves their breath for hiking.
I’m listening to The Fellowship of the Ring audiobook to distract myself for the last miles of the day. The fellowship is plodding through the mines of Moria as plod through the 26th mile of my day. I’ve gone into a hiking trance like I’ve never experienced before as I march behind Stumbles. I feel a high while being totally exhausted.
We hit the turn off for the water source for the night. The water is unfortunately 1.6 miles off trail, down a boulder scramble, just what my tired muscles don’t need. I try to snap out of my trance and pay attention to my footing.
I make it down the scramble unscathed but dead tired. The spring is surrounded by barb wire which keeps live stock out, but makes it hard for hikers to get too. I end up crawling on my stomach under the wire and can’t help but laugh at obstacles the trail throws in your way.
I rush to eat dinner while the stars grow brighter. Finally, I crawl into my sleeping bag. I’m exhausted but I can already tell my sore legs won’t allow me to sleep undisturbed.