Location- near dirt road
Distance Traveled Today- 17.8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 127.3 miles
Weather/Temp- clear/ 70-80
Injuries- sore feet
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 4
Today was probably my favorite day hiking in the desert so far. Although the majority of the day was spent hiking up hill, I enjoyed it immensely.
Katana was 100% back to normal with her paw today. We started off hiking through an enormous cow pasture that eventually melted into a large oak Grove that went on for a couple miles. The trail was in and out of the shady oaks while paralleling and sometimes crossing a gurgling Creek. Just those couple miles beneath the oaks made my entire day, even if the rest of it was spent mercilessly under the sun.
We took our time, and Katana belted out nearly 8 miles before the heat began to get to her.
Over the last couple days, I’ve made peace with a certain aspect of this hike. Katana cannot hike from the late morning, until nearly 5pm while we’re here in the desert; she just won’t do it, and I don’t blame her. It’s too hot, the sun is too strong, and there is almost zero cover. Our options are to lay down for half the day and make our own shade, or I can carry her while holding the umbrella to shield her from the sun, keeping us both quite a bit cooler.
I’m finding myself able to handle the heat and the sun, and it makes me crazy to lay down and do nothing for 4 to 6 hours. I’ve opted for carrying her through the heat of the day when I’m feeling up to it. The way I look at it, she could be sitting back home on the couch all day, or sitting on my shoulders for a few hours out of the day, seeing the countryside and enjoying all the new sights, smells, and people. I think she would choose the latter too.
I must admit, having the equivalent of a fur scarf wrapped around my neck, and draped over my shoulders for the hottest part of the day is no easy, nor enjoyable task; however I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our special bond, and we are quickly becoming very well known out here amongst the other hikers.
After the oaks and the creek, the rest of the day was fairly mundane. It was climbs, rocks, shrubs, desert, and sun. No animals besides the crows, Turkey buzzards, and the ever constant lizard darting off the trail.
We made camp down a dirt road on the property of a trail angel named Mike. Luckily he had some trees, so I’m hanging off the ground where I belong, the catfox curled up on my abdomen.
We have a 25 mile stretch without water tomorrow. I haven’t made up my mind whether I want to hit it in one go, or break it into two days. I’ll see how my feet are feeling and make that decision based on how much we complete before noon.
My biggest gripe for this trail so far…zero campfires. Nobody has them because most people are afraid. It’s so dry, one ember could set the whole place ablaze. Fire was a constant on the Appalachian Trail. It was always bringing people together and helping you to forget all the pain and suffering of the day. Out here, you go to bed with the sun. Because of that, I feel like a lot of opportunities for more intimate conversations and connections with your fellow hiker are lost. I don’t much care for that aspect of this trail, but I suppose it’s just another challenge to add to the tally…