Elevation today: +3728/-2785
As has happened before, we had intentions of getting up early to a 5:30 alarm and knocking out some miles in the very early and cool morning…but we hit snooze and slept in :).
As we were packing up, Daddie Gizmo said that if we had more food he would have loved to stay and enjoy the camp spot for another lazy day. Similar to the zero we took in Jackson Flat with the fire going all day too. Truth was, we layed all our food out yesterday and realized we have just enough food to make it to Lake Isabella with very little snacking. Hikers need to snack!! Unfortunately, we didn’t bring enough food to comfortably eat all day long as we burn through massive calories. Either way, we set off on what turned out to be an excellent day with lots of microflowers that we love. Gorgeous scenery. We got out of camp at 8:52 and knew we had 5 miles to go to Landers Creek to refill water. We ran into Canary while crossing a stream and while I was distracted talking both my feet slipped down the mud into the water. Oops – wet feet to start the day. Luckily, my shoes are goretex and dry fast. Shortly after that we took a wrong turn when the trail split. We realized we were off trail and were trying to cut across the desert when I saw Daddie Gizmo do a crazy side step jump that I had never seen. I could tell he was panicked and he quickly relayed that there was a huge rattlesnake there and to go around wide. This was our first rattlesnake encounter (except the one in the cage at Vazquez Rocks) and it was HUGE!!!!!!! We made it safely around and to the creek where Rubberball, Mellow, Hunter, Tatters, Rex and Akunah were all sitting and having some food in the shade. You will always find hikers in the shade of the desert. As Tatters said later that day, “it’s a rare resource out here.” There is about ten hikers – those guys I mentioned and couple others – who are all camping together every night, usually at a water source. We enjoy seeing them during the day but like to camp by ourselves. Out of the creek we continued through the pine trees and big boulders.
It was a beautiful morning and easy miles in the shade. But those first 7 shaded miles soon opened up to the desert sun. As we were walking we ran into a new face, Guate. I chatted with him while we hiked for a while. He said he hasn’t seen anyone in 3 days, is from Guatemala and is a mountaineering guide. He takes people on big mountaineering trips in Pakistan and Guatemala. He is MUCH FASTER than us, doing 26-28 miles a day, so we won’t be seeing much of him. In the mid-afternoon, after hiking in the direct sun, we were so glad to arrive at a water cache near Kelso Road where it crossed the trail. Last years hikers put 50+ gallons of water there which was much needed because that stretch was really dry. A bunch of us relaxed a bit with lunch (we finished the last of our cheese and bread with some salami) and refilling before heading out. The large group was planning on going another 5 miles, but we wanted to wait out the sun and hike late in the day around sunset to get a few more miles in. As we left the cache we saw trail magic! Someone had set a cooler in the shade with sodas, beer and oranges! We split a Busch beer, grabbed an orange for later and signed the trail register. We grabbed a bit more shade to wait out the day and then hiked our little hearts out till about 8:30. The sunset was beautiful, the moon was nearly full and we were hungry! We had officially done our first 20 mile + day. We hadn’t necessarily planned on it, but it happened and felt good. 21 1/2 miles!!! We set up camp under the moon and a Joshua Tree and quickly made a very bad dinner. We bought stuffing to try to make with the summer sausage but it was more like wet bread crumbs. It was probably our second worst meal. The orange though was FANTASTIC!