Location- Oak Grove on side of trail
Elevation- 5,400 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 17.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 36.2 miles
Weather/Temp- 70 – 80 degrees
Pain level- zero
Spirits/Morale- High/physically drained
Today was an experimental day, and as a consequence a very rough one.
I got another early start around 6:30 am and made great time with Katana. We made it over 6 miles by 9 am, before taking a break by a water spigot outside a ranch. From that point forward, the day deteriorated and got away from us.
The plan was to go about 21 miles to Laguna mountain, and with such easy, gradual terrain, I thought it was going to be a cake walk. Since Katana had done fantastically thus far, I thought I might experiment and see how she’d do hiking throughout the entire day, without laying down for siesta between noon and 4pm.
Thinking it was going to be an easy day, I decided to let us pace ourselves, and take frequent breaks in order to brace her for the full day. This was a mistake. As if by instinct, when 1pm rolled around (and even though there was a strong breeze), katana refused to walk any further and laid down. She wasn’t hot, she wasn’t panting, she just wasn’t going to hike during the period of no shadows. Most wild animals take refuge or lay down during the heat of the day, especially in areas that get fairly hot, or naturally have few clouds. I believe this is the strategy katana was exercising.
I carried her on and off, with frequent breaks, for over five miles. I was honestly drained carrying her extra 20 pounds, plus all the extra water, through the hottest part of the day. We had to at least get to the next water source, no matter what, so that became the main objective.
By the time we reached an oak Grove with a small Creek running by it 17.6 miles into the day’s hike, around 6:30pm, I was done with today, as well as completely sapped of energy; ready to go to sleep, and go back to the original strategy tomorrow. From now on we will stick to waking up as early as possible, hiking as hard as we can until noon, laying low until 4, and then going as far as we need to go until almost dark, or hike into the night.
Although this trail has been physically much less demanding than the Appalachian Trail, I am slowly finding that it has its own set of very unique and difficult challenges, most having to do with little to no reprieve from the sun for most of the day.
Lots of the same old flora today, but not too much fauna. Lizards, buzzards, crows, woodpeckers, and red ants. I did notice a small increase in cacti for a little while.
In other news, I hung my hammock between two oaks and realized after the fact, that one of them was infested with ants that began crawling down my straps towards my hammock. Wanting to find a solution without having to move, I tried an experiment and rubbed vaseline (currently my anti chafe agent) all over the top of the strap. The ants wouldn’t cross it, and I was in the clear. So word to the wise.
The plan tomorrow is to quickly hike a few miles into mount Laguna, restock on snacks, then hike out. We’ll see how well that works out…