BAKING HOT DESERT
Day 2: Mile 17.5 – 39.5 (22 miles – 35.2km)
Thursday April 18, 2019
Today the trail started to show us a little of what this desert is about.
It was a very windy night and the wind just didn’t let up. The rattling of the tent fly kept waking us up through the night. The brightness of the almost full moon felt like the lights have been left on.
Sunrise was quite late at around 6.45. We waited till it got light before leaving camp. The trail is non-existent in this section and the few trail markers were hard to see even in full dalight. Some hikers choose to walk the road to the next water cache in this section, rather then battle through the scrub. Almost all the vegetation we walked around was either spiky or had thorns. Even Hammer was wearing long pants to protect his legs from being scratched.
The morning air as we left camp was cool and quite pleasant. About three miles from camp we started to see quite obvious trail markers and the vegetation was a bit more sparse so hiking became a little bit easier.
Despite the rough trail conditions we had a beautiful morning, stopping a few times to take in the views of the valley below.
By the time we reached the water cache it was almost 12 o’clock and within minutes at least 6 other hikers arrived on the road. To reach the cache we had to descend off the side of a mountain and down through the long valley floor.
We stopped briefly to refill our water and continued on. From here on, everything changed. The wind which has been blowing quite persistently eased and the sun was beginning to feel baking hot. There was no vegetation higher then our hips, it was mainly Creosote shrubs.
Hammer was beginning to slow down, he had little energy and a few hot spots were forming on his feet. We stopped a few times to rest and attend to his feet. We had little shade provided by our umbrellas.
The dryness of the heat felt like it was baking anything it touched. Temperature was easily in the mid-30s (about 90F). We would occasionally get a refreshing and welcomed breeze. We were walking on the trail that was essentially a rough jeep road. There was no one out here except for us and the few lizards and a few Jack rabbits. The lizards move do swiftly, their feet hardly touched the ground. And the rabbits had such huge ears, it must help to keep them cool. We stopped for lunch in the only shade we could find near an old water tank.
Towards the afternoon the trail traversed a few undulations which we found were very challenging, especially the dips where the wind completely disappeared. Despite the energy sapping heat it was interesting to observe how much life there was around us in the desert.
Even though it was hard work there was a certain beauty in the silence and the stillness of a baking hot afternoon. The only sound I could hear was the crunching of my feet on the rocky trail. I stood still for a while, waiting for Hammer to catch up. The complete stillness and silence was so incredibly peaceful. I felt like I was dissolving into the surroundings. This is the answer to the why we do this. It is an incredible sense of peace.
Our hiking pace was slow and we realised that we had to hurry to make the next water source before it got dark. We stopped for an early dinner and Hammer really picked up after that. We made it to the water tank in quick sticks time.
By the time we were settling for the day the moon was beginning to rise and the sun was setting behind the mountains. The sky was endless and it was an amazing palette of blues and pinks. And just like that our baking hot day was over and the brilliance of the night sky made it all even more worthwhile.
It is a beautiful still night with the moon providing plenty of light. We are comfortable but sore all over. As I closed my eyes they felt like they’ve been baked dry.