Upper Shake Campground(493.4) to Hiker(517.6) 24.2 Miles
It was bound to happen eventually. Today I had my first bad trail day. Between the heat, lack of sleep, and being hungry I was in a pretty bad mood for most of the day. Everything just seemed to piss me off. We all woke up later than we had planned on. I wanted to be hiking by 4:30, but I didn't get up until 5. I tossed and turned for most of the night and I didn't feel very well rested when I began packing up camp. We all hiked out together, but we quickly spread out on the trail. For the first six miles we hiked along the side of the mountain range. Sometimes I prefer the direct route of the Appalachian Trail. Sure it was brutally steep, but I felt like I was accomplishing something. Walking the contours of a mountain seems to take forever. The highlight of my day was hitting 500 miles. Last year when I hit 500 miles there were wild ponies. This year there was just a group of hiker trash. Nonetheless it felt great to reach that milestone. Since California is lasting forever I don't have the satisfaction of crossing off different states. I still have over 1,000 miles of California before I cross into Oregon.
The rest of the day was brutal. Just after crossing 500 miles the shade disappeared and the temperature climbed into triple digits. I put on my headphones and let my new Harry Potter audiobook distract me. Thanks Chris from Nashville for my Amazon credits. I bought some new tent stakes, sports beans, and audiobooks. You rock!!!
Shortly after this picture was taken everything went from green and slightly brown to all brown and tan. We have officially hit the desert.
The desert floor
For the next thirty miles we will be walking on the desert floor following the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Everyone is pretty excited by this. It is an iconic part of the trail. I made a pretty big mistake with only seven miles to go. As I was taking a short break to wait out the heat of the day I managed to knock over my platypus water bladder. I lost my last two liters of water. It was two thirty, really hot, and there were no more water sources. I knew I couldn't just sit and wait out the heat any longer. I hiked for 20-45 minutes at a time before sitting down in the shade to cool down. It wasn't the greatest end to the day, but I made it to Hiker Town with no ill effects. Luckily I was well hydrated before making such a rookie mistake. Hiker Town is a hostel located right on the trail. It doesn't offer much in the way of services, but it did have water. I gulped down a liter and then hitchhiked to the convenience store/grill. I ordered a burrito and drank three lemonades. The burrito was delicious and the lemonade was heavenly.
Tomorrow I will wait out the heat of the day and hike out at night. I'm hoping to cover all thirty miles of the desert floor. After hiking through the night hopefully I'll be so tired I can sleep during the day.
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. ---Muhammad Ali