Saturday, April 24, 2010

Need a little lead in your pack?

Day 6

Today it was my turn to struggle. Yesterday I helped motivate Apricots, and today she helped me. It'll be a grim day indeed when we both struggle.

Knowing the climb up the San Felipe hills offered little to no break from the beating desert sun, we chose to get a very early start on the day. Sadly though, I got little sleep last night because halfway through the night it started hailing. This produced some wonderful noise around midnight, waking me, but not Apricots.

It would seem the trail was going to have Apricots lead my complaining body for a day, teaching us the general give and take of energy.

Anyway, we walked across the valley floor with our head lamps shining at our feet for the first thirty minutes. As the sun rose, we were treated to a beautiful display of colors. Shortly before we hit a water cache, we passed a rather bizarre piece of "art". Perched upon the barb of the barbed wire fence we were paralleling was the head of a barbie doll. In the light of dawn, her shaved head and deep blue eyeliner added to the eerieness of it all. The body-less head stared intently upon the San Felipe hills.

After a refill at a friendly water cache, Apricots and I started our ascent up the hot waterless stretch. Early on we started passing several different types of cactus, including prickly pear (with its rich magenta flowers), cane cholla, and barrel cactus. We also noticed a plant (whose name is escaping me) that looked like a goliath asparagus. The guidebook states that they leaf after rain, and as a result can leaf several times a year, each time loosing its leaves to the following days of heat.

We passed another hiker on the way up, who was carrying a larger pack, yet somehow felt that 1.5 liters was enough water. Apricots and I were carrying at least twice that, and drinking sparingly. Further up the ascent, after we took second breakfast, we passed her again. She had one quarter of a liter, and at least six miles to go. I gave her some of my water, but she refused to take too much of it, for fear of "too much weight."

Around two in the afternoon, we arrived at the much desired "Third gate cache", a water cache maintained by a very dedicated volunteer. Every year, he walks up the hill from his property carrying four gallons of water in his backpack, and one in each hand. Repeating this 50lb hall about seventy times, he slowly replenishes over 400 gallons of water every hiking season. There is no thanks that would ever match the generosity of this man.

After nearly two hours of rest in minimal shade, Apricots and I prepared a lunch, as the parched hiker pulled in. Our water did not last her the last stretch, and she nearly drowned herself in water as she stumbled in in near delirium. The ground temperature (not air) was 124 degrees. The beating sun on the exposed trail, and the radiating heat from the ground surface amplified what was a pretty mild temperature in the 80s.

After she asked if she could get sick from not drinking enough water, Apricots and I talked to her about the importance of hydration, and electrolytes. We gave her two packets of electrolytes to help her retain what she was consuming.

As the temperature faded, I trimmed part of the back heel off my shoe insole. This modification did wonders for my feet (or so it seems, so far). Apricots and I set out after the heat dropped, and a breeze picked up.

We settled a nice flat campsite four miles past the water cache.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Oh so hey, I had edited that comment, left some words in and it didn't quite make sense. Not that I always make sense. Just wanted to note that the generous and caring folks along the way bodes well for humankind. The scenery sounds phenomenal.
    Hike on....

  3. Such generosity is rare and inspiring to hear about. On another note, what in hell is someone doing hiking alone, in the desert, and not knowing the importance of water? That's scary and thankfully someone was there to explain to her the importance of hydration. *Jillian