Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 28 (6/14) Hiding from the Heat

I woke up from my slumber at the late hour of 7:30am when the sun rose high enough to start hitting me and heating up my sleeping bag. I pulled my ground sheet over my head and dozed off for another 30 minutes before I was finally forced to move down under the shade of a large tree next to the creek. I passed out for another four hours before I awoke to the sound of the arrival of Boyscout, Good Karma, Aslan and Space Cowboy. They had made it out about 4 miles last night before camping and starting off early this morning. It took them a total of about 9 hours to hike the 17 miles, but looking back, we did it in about 6:30. For 17 miles, and including breaks every 1.5 hours, that meant we were cruising at the breakneck speed of nearly 3.5 miles an hour. Plus, add the fact that the road was fairly sandy at spots and your every step slipped backwards halfway,and I was very impressed with us. Unfortunately, the consequence was the splitting pain in my shin when I moved my foot. I massaged it and stretched it, but it was clearly going to be painful today. I had taken a few ibuprofen last night (Vitamin I in hiker-speak), and it seemed to help a bit. Due to experiences in high school, I hate the idea of using painkillers to extend my ability to continue activities, but I am more than happy to use them to promote healing by reducing swelling.

The whole group of us, plus two older hikers whose names I never heard hung out under the bridge for most of the day. I wish I had a time lapse video of the day showing how the group of people rotated throughout the day as the shade slowly shifted. Every two to three hours the whole circle had moved, and it turned into a bit of a game to catch some rest before getting roasted by the sun. No one wanted to move at all, and even in the shade of the bridge it reached 95F in the early afternoon. The worst feeling was getting up to go to the nearby spring for more water, as it meant you would spend about 5 minutes in the blazing sunlight. I was happy to eat a few meals here as it reduced my pack weight without me carrying that food any further.

Around 7 we started rallying and considering when to head out, and finally at 8pm it was go time. We all hit the trail, in the biggest hiking group I’ve been in all trip. 7 people in all set out to finish the last 6 miles of desert, and then head up another 17 miles into Tehachapi. We weren’t sure if we’d hike all night or not, but either way the plan was to get into town pretty early and just lay low for the rest of the day. Not more than 20 minutes into the hike we ran into a tiny rattlesnake, not more than two years old, which rattled at us and moved off trail. I’ve now officially heard my first snake rattle at me, and that after over 500 miles in the desert. That was a big worry of mine coming in, and to think that I’ve really only come across two in nearly a month of hiking out hear. Just goes to show you can’t really predict which hardships you’ll have to deal with when you plan a trip like this.

After about two miles we started hitting the base of the Tehachapi Hills. As we approached this area, the wind picked up like crazy, and the 30-40 mph gusts were enough to destabilize me and force me to use my poles for lateral support. Shortly thereafter my hips started to hurt due to the strain of holding myself on the trail, and my shins were acting up again. I can deal with some amount of pain, but when it is a series of things, and it is a constant ache, that quickly becomes unbearable. Despite my plans to quickly reach Tehachapi that evening, I realized I was in no condition to make those kind of miles. When the group stopped after 6 miles at the creek in Tylerhorse Canyon, I called it a night and rolled out my bag. I hoped to be back up early in the morning to beat some of the heat, but at least I’d be going up in elevation, and there would be some shade, so I should be able to manage regardless. Everyone else moved on, mentioning they were jealous of me for calling it early, but I shot back saying I was jealous of them since they got to keep hiking and would be off their feet much earlier tomorrow.

Miles Today: 6
Trip Mileage: 541

No comments:

Post a Comment