Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 5,364 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 22 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 630.9 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 70s 80s
Injuries- Hunger Injuries
Pain level- starving pains
Days without shower- 5
Hunger/craving- sky high, anything
It was extra cold this morning, making it hard to get out of my sleeping bag, thus me getting a late start on the trail, a little after 7 am.
After the Virginia like landscape yesterday, I was feeling pretty good about what might lie ahead today. Those feelings were lies. Today was the most arid, dry, desolate landscape that I’ve seen so far on this adventure. It was certainly a change of pace, scenery, and difficulty. Besides the Dr. Seuss looking Joshua Trees, there was literally zero shade. If you could find a decent cluster of Joshua Trees, then you were in good shape to relax in some shade.
Within the first three miles of the morning, we came across the biggest rattlesnake I’ve ever seen, more than 4 ft long. I’m guessing it was a common diamondback. I couldn’t resist not capturing it, so I did. Funny enough, the bigger ones are easier to catch than the little ones; there’s just more area to hold onto without getting your fingers too close to the sharp end.
Even though it was easier to get a hold of, the size of it made it twice as exciting. I was trembling in my knees and hands with adrenaline during and after the capture. It’s a feeling that I live for, and also a feeling that I get when I hook a big fish, or jump from a high height. That feeling let’s me know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing…living.
After releasing the rattler about 150 feet off the trail, we continued on. Once at the bottom of a 6 mile descent, the heat turned up, and the landscape turned to real desert. Nothing but sand, rock, and Joshua Trees for as far as the eye could see.
We trudged through the heat of the day, and Katana didn’t flinch. As we descended a small slope, I noticed another rattler stretched out in the trail, probably close to a hundred feet ahead. I leashed katana to my pack and made for the snake. It was nearly jet black, almost 3 ft long, and another easy capture. I moved this one a good ways off the trail, and on we trudged, a slow burn through the heat.
No more snakes, but tons of sand, and a few short breaks beneath the Joshua Trees. Walking through sand was a new one; it was like taking one step forward, and a quarter step back, especially on the inclines.
We finished up in the dark, at the base of a 1,600 ft climb we’ll have to tackle tomorrow. I’m all out of jerky for Katana, so I have to make it over 20 miles into Lake Isabella tomorrow, or else. I write this as I munch on pumpkin seeds, and fantasize about real food. I’m so hungry it hurts, but I’m surprised it hasn’t really affected me too much while walking. The “slow burn” pace has really payed off.
I’m cowboy camped beneath a Joshua Tree now, in the middle of some of the most barren desert I’ve ever seen, looking up at perhaps the most star strewn sky I’ll ever witness. There is no moon tonight, no clouds, no towns, no false lights, and no moisture in the air, making for the clearest sky possible. There’s so many stars out, that you can see even the faintest ones; the kind that are so faint, they disappear when you try to focus directly on them. You can only see them perfectly in your peripheral vision. It’s so clear, that I’ve been able to pick out 3 satellites cruising high above. It’s nights like this that will stick with me the rest of my life, standing out in my memory, until replaced by something more spectacular that may never come…