Location- Side of trail
Distance Traveled Today- 20.2 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 592.9 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, breezy, 70s 80s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 3
Had a bit of a scare this morning when I was packing up. I was consolidating my food trash, and decided to flatten the little can of corned beef hash I ate the night before. I stomped down on the can, but the pull tab top didn’t flatten, and instead sliced straight through the bottom of my shoe, through my sock, and into the left side bottom of my right foot. I felt the metal hit my skin, and honestly, I was horrified for about a second, then I just felt like laughing; not genuine laughter, but sarcastic “this could only happen to me at the absolute worst time,” laughter.
I quickly pulled the can out of my shoe, kicked the shoe off, and ripped off my sock, prepared to see a deep slice. Luckily, my shoe had been thick enough to absorb most of the can, and my foot only got a small cut/puncture that wasn’t even bleeding; I can thank my calluses for that…
I’ll tell ya what, I don’t think I can say it enough times, but I can’t wait to be done with the desert. It’s turned into the same types of views and terrain, day after day, mile after mile. I hardly even take pictures anymore, because everything looks exactly like the last thing I just saw. This is where having good mental endurance kicks in, because the hike itself is not overly stimulating.
There was a good chunk of burned out forest today, making the trek depressing. I think the burned out areas are the hardest to walk through for me personally. Charcoaly logs and barren, burnt trees everywhere, zero shade, and nothing but rocks and cattails to look at. I would say today I really felt fed up while walking through the burn zone; enough that I was talking out loud to myself and Katana about how over the desert I was.
Speaking of Katana, the little champion cruised through the entire day without any fuss. I haven’t carried her since the 20 mile road walk out of Casa De Luna more than a week ago. I couldn’t be more proud of her, especially through this final section of desert. She was even running with me for the last mile and a half into camp today.
The highlights of the day were two Gopher snakes and a rattlesnake. First, Mason spotted a juvenile Gopher Snake in an Agave plant, which I was able to quickly catch and get some pictures and video of. Then, not five minutes later, Mason stepped right over top of a 2 ft rattlesnake laying halfway across the trail. The snake moved quickly into a bush off the trail as I walked up on it with Katana in my arms, but I was unable to get to it, or get any pictures. No clue what species, but it’s the third rattler of the trip. I’m super jealous, because many other hikers have seen twice that many. However, I’ve noticed many people mistaking Gopher snakes for rattlesnakes, so their rattler encounters could be accidentally exaggerated. The final Gopher Snake was at a water source, and I only saw the last quarter of him slithering down a hole under a tree root up on an embankment. I never got a chance to catch him.
So that was my day in a nutshell. Snakes, heat, burnt forest, and a happy hiking dog. Tomorrow we hit our last water source for 40 miles. Part of me wants to be nervous, but I feel really good about it. I’m gonna pack out 8 liters, see how the day goes, and if it looks like water might get tight, I’ll night hike the second day into the next water source, in an effort conserve fluids by avoiding the heat. I don’t think it’ll be a problem, but we’ll see. Only about 100 miles left until no more desert…