Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Into the desert

I woke up very early to thunderstorms gathering on the horizon. I could see lightning over the far deserts to the east. I packed up my stuff quickly and was on the road by 5:30. I passed Mowgley sleeping in a field. I climbed. The trail was steep.

Everything was pretty in this now more lush forest of pines and oaks. At one point it began to hail. I used my umbrella.

I remembered bits and pieces of this trail quite vividly and others were new to me again.

Soon I dropped into the forested valley where I had camped with Gary at Waterhole Mine camp last year. I got to hike new trail here because last time I walked the road instead.

I stopped at Piute Mountain Road for cheese sandwiches of American cheese and Thomases whole wheat mini bagels. I signed the trail register. A lot of people had been through here already today.

It was growing cold and stormy so I did not rest very long before I headed out to the last water source before the cache before the evil desert that vexed me so last year.

I stopped at the last water source, a lovely spring near a drive-in campground. A couple, Snow Plow and Rubber Legs, were camped there waiting for some blisters to heal. They said they had read my book.

I filled up 2 liters, rounding out my supply to 4.5 liters, and headed out into the desert. I hoped to get a distance into the desert and camp so that I could hike half in the last half of the day and half in the first half of the day. Last year I had sweltered through the hottest part of the day.

At around 1pm it started to rain. It did not let up all day. I proceeded to Kelso Valley Road. The cache there was empty. I was quite surprised. A man was parked there in an RV. He rolled down the window and asked if I needed water. I told him I would take a moment to eat something and evaluate my water and let him know if I needed any.

I sat with my umbrella under a Joshua tree and had a bowl of cereal. My spoon was broken. I looked at my water supply. With the cool air it seemed I would have plenty to get to the other cache.

I walked back to the RV and noticed it said Jellybean on it. The man was Jellybean's father, I guess. Jellybean had hiked the trail last year but with only 89 miles to go she had hurt her ankle and had to get off. She was trying again.

I asked Jellybean's dad if he had a plastic spoon. He gave me one.

Away I went into the desert. I made really good time. The desert smelled good in the rain. It was very windy. I was able to attach my umbrella to my pack so that I could hold the front down by the canopy with both hands as I walked.

At 6:30 I sought shelter among the same rocks near Willow Spring Road I had sought shade last year. I propped up my rain poncho to make a strange little hidey-hole with a giant rock poised to fall and crush me. I tried to comfort myself with the knowledge that the rock had probably been balanced like that for decades.

I set up a rain poncho because I did not have a tent with me. The poncho is big enough to provide me shelter from rain. Even so, it was a lousy shelter that I created. The rain had stopped but I was pretty sure if it started up again, I would probably get a little wet.

I made dinner in the hidey-hole away from the wind. I gazed out across the Joshua Tree studded desert hills and saw a double rainbow. The rainbow was almost full with only a portion in the upper middle missing. At the other end of the rainbow, I could see where it went right to the ground.

The clouds seemed to dissipate as I lay there. I watched them move slowly to the east. The wind ceased. I slept well except for the little mouse, whose house I apparently had barged into, who rustled around my food bag.

I put my food bag in my pack and then I saw him run around over my head. Then I could hear him climbing up the rock and sending small bits of sand onto my poncho roof. At least it wasn't rain.

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