Day 43 ( Monday, May 30): Butterbredt Rd (mi 617.78) to mi 636.55, 18.78 miles. (up/down: +4280/-2544ft)
I woke up to find that my trekking pole had been someone’s midnight snack. I knew there would be some more climbing first thing in the morning, and I wanted to make sure I did as much of it as I could in the cooler morning temps, so I was on trail by 6:30a. The climbing wasn’t too extreme, but it was pretty constant with a little relief of downhill once in a while. Surprisingly, I crushed the morning climb unlike yesterday. I thin it helped that the sun was coming over the mountains and shining directly in my face, therefore I could not see the trail or the incline that I was covering. It’s not as bad when I can’t see what I am doing. That is why I usually stare at the ground 1 foot in front of my when I have to climb. During the first part of the morning, I saw another 3 bunnies – too bad I can’t pick my own trail name!
Early off, I started to leap frog Dayhike. Throughout the morning, we continued to pass each other taking turns out in front and taking a break. Once in a while our breaks would overlap in the same spot for a short bit. Though slight, it was nice to have a little company. He also noticed (as Digger did before Tehachapi) that my pack was lopsided. This was getting frustrating as I could not figure out why it was doing so. At first I thought it was my hip belt just being crooked. Then I thought I was just sucking at packing my pack even though I would readjust it continually with not much change. Finally, at one of my breaks, I investigated a bit more and found that it wasn’t me! It was indeed the pack – the hip belt was ripping from the pack. Damn.
Now my trekking poles AND pack were failing and giving up. With this next climb coming up, I wanted too as well – but I didn’t! It took me over two hours to go two miles. Remember the dreadful beach walk hike from the Snow Canyon Faucet to Ziggy and the Bear? Well it was that all over again, but now up hill – including a 700ft ft climb in 1 mile. It felt like I was putting in so much effort in walking but wasn’t going anywhere. I just gave my self tiny goals – walk to that one single joshua tree where there was a foot of shade and stop. Go to the next tree then stop. I did that all the way to the top. Then finally all down hill to Bird Spring Pass where I would hope to find another water cache.
There it was – water! Woohoo. I got to the cache at about 12, after waking up a couple of sheriffs on their break. Sorry. It was hot – way hot. The water was a delightful sight, however the huge climb behind it was not. There was also another 20 miles until the next reliable water source. Not wanting to carry more water up that mountain then I had to, I made my first hot lunch (swapped my lunch and dinner). I sat with a new group of hikers, including Dayhike.After lunch, we all sought small patches of shade under the trees for some rest. Of course everyone napped but me. Amidst the middle of our afternoon siesta, a dark cloud came over with some unexpected rain. It didn’t last long, confused the shit outta me, but was quite welcomed.It left just as soon as it appeared. I contemplated leaving, and packed up my stuff in preparation to go. I got up to refill my water, and quickly changed my mind as soon as i stepped in the sun. Way to hot – I’d guess 90’s, and the trail was completely exposed.
At 4:30, I decided to fight the heat and the climb and get back on trail. It had been a 4 1/2 hour break and I was going stir crazy. And there I started the 1600 ft, 4 mile climb. I was determined to push my self and not stop. I knew if I stopped for even a 5 second break, that I would lose all momentum. I made it up over half way and rewarded myself with a break, and met a couple from Ohio. I was happily surprised to make it that far without stopping. I know my body can do it, the biggest struggle is all in the mind. From there I finished the climb and started the decent. From here it would be mostly down hill to Walker Pass. The terrain switched vastly once over the peak from desert sand and rocks to trees, lots of green and trees. I passed a couple camp sites, but decided to push on to see what I could find.
At 6:55p, I made it to a flat spot perfect for camp. With the amount of people still at the cache, I figured others would join me. It got later and later, and it would again be just me – camping alone for the second time in a row. Their loss – they missed out on an amazing sunset. I settled into my tent for the night, thinking about how perfect of a spot this would be for mountain lions. Shit. I was thinking about Storytime and her friend’s encounter with a mountain lion she had a couple years back somewhere between here and Kennedy Meadows. To make matters worse, i was playing a card game with my self and the second card to be dealt was about mountain lion attacks. Probably a bad decision, but I opted to not where my ear plugs that night.