Miles: 517.6 to 549
The alarm went off at 4 a.m. Worst. sound. ever. I was not ready to get out from behind my eyelids. Fortunately for me, Richard felt the same.
We reset the alarm for 4:30 a.m. What a difference half an hour can make. We got moving out into the very early light with the desert still cold from the night.
So cold, in fact, that I spent the first few miles shivering as I hiked. The desert is so weird. The drastic temperature changes; the weather that can move through all four seasons in one 24-hour period; the WIND.
After some short stretches on dirt roads, we turned east on the California aqueduct. The open water canal took us to the intersection of the Los Angeles aqueduct, which we preceded to follow for 20 miles or so.
The morning was flat and cold until it was suddenly flat and hot. Oh, desert.
We reached the first shade of the day at mile 17. A bridge over a dry creek bed. We released our feet from the overly warm confines of our shoes and ate our way through a huge bag of Chees-its.
In another 6.5 miles was the first water source of the day. It was a running creek. No joke. And it was also one of the only creeks I’ve ever encountered where the water ran warm. We filled up, made dinner at 3 p.m. and sat around for 90 minutes or so. It was great.
I have found that we often have a long climb at the end of the day. Not always, but that seems to be the way we split u the trail these days. And when that happens I also found that eating a bolts of calories midday is so helpful for getting up those miles. On the Appalachian Trail I never made dinner for lunch. I saved my hot meal for the end of the day, no exceptions. But out here, it seems to correspond with a natural break in hiking to make dinner during the heat-of-the-day break. Because after a long break it’s not uncommon to hike until dark or close to it. And by that point, I just want to get in my sleeping bag.
And so we did this day. We repacked and started the last seven miles around 4 p.m. And we finished with a big climb to our campsite.