... no shit, there I was, in Onyx, California [link added], which is this little dot on the map with a convenience store and a post office, and I'm waiting on the steps of the convenience store, which is also a gas station, when this beautiful woman pulls up in a black truck, looks over at me, and says these three little words every thru-hiker longs to hear. No, they weren't, "Want a ride?", although you could be forgiven for thinking that; they were "record breaking heat", and the reason I wanted to hear them is because ... no ... it means the desert is out to get me. Ever since Agua Dulce, this trip's just been one thing after another, I, the giardia, which, fortunately, the metronidazole [link added] works and I am feeling much, much better now – I have pulled out from the down spots when Kady accompanied me to Kennedy Meadows and feeling very glad for it. There was giardia, there was pack-breaking, and then there was the adventures of the past couple of days, but, ah, um ... and on top of it, I'm walking into Onyx, sitting on the porch of the convenience store where it's over 100°, in the shade; it is expected to reach 113 by this weekend, apparently. Now, Onyx is a little bit lower elevation than the mountains I will be walking through, but, you know, obviously, this is, ah, this is that last little stretch of desert, I've got fifty miles to go to Kennedy Meadows, I've walked a hundred in the last four or five days, and this is that last li'l stretch of desert just trying desperately everything it can to sink its teeth into me, and cut my trip short.
Well, believe me, it's almost been working. There have been some times in the last couple of days when the only thing that has kept me going has been the fact that I'm out in the middle of nowhere with trail ahead of me and trail behind me, and I might as well walk forward. And, I have had a devil of a time just keeping [incomprehensible – going?]. But fortunately I've been able to at least keep my pace up pretty well, and on top of that, I'm walking through the desert, I've been walking though the desert in the summer, and, yeah, the um, June 21st, the solstice, came and went, and yeah, it was just kind of another day out on the trail, and it was too miserably hot to think of it much except for the fact that, "oh boy, now it's summer".
And, so, anyway, yesterday, I was walking through ... I'm sorry, I'm having a little brainfart here. Yesterday, I was walking through the southern Sierra, the Piute Mountains [link added], I believe it was, and I came up towards Bird Spring Pass, where there is a water cache, which I had good reason to expect would be full, because the same person maintains that cache as maintains the one back at Kelso Valley Road, about twelve or fifteen miles back, and the one at Kelso Valley Road had been refilled within the last day, and so I thought the other one at Bird Spring Road would be full as well, but it wasn't. And I got there to see a whole host of empty water bottles – some hikers who caught up with me today told me it got filled like, maybe, probably five or six hours after I passed through, but that didn't help me much – I got there to a host of empty water bottles, and I looked at the mountain ahead of me with about a two thousand foot vertical climb, and I looked at my liter and a half of water, and went, "Well, shit". So, there was really nothing for me to do but to keep going. I rested a little bit in order not to be hiking up the mountain in the very worst heat of the day, but I had to go up, and I drank the last of my water at the top, and from there it was a very dry two miles down to Yellow Jacket Spring, which is a turnoff about, you know, seven-tenths of a mile detour down the road, and Yellow Jacket Spring is this crappy little seep out in the middle of nowhere, but it's water, and I had to go down to it and.... Sorta kicking off the dehydration, but I've been drinking everything I could get my hands on, and now that I'm down in Onyx and at a store, I've chugged a liter of Gatorade, and a couple liters of water while I'm here.
Oh yeah, and at Yellow Jacket Spring, I pull in, and around a corner, just see a bear. A big black bear drinking from the water and it's like, "Jesus, what now?" But the bear looks up, turns around, sees me, and kicks off running. So, I guess the moral of the story is: Don't mess with dehydrated hikers. Otherwise, they might just decide you are the perfect thing to take your frustration out on from the trail being so horribly crappy, and start rolling at you with their hiking poles.
Anyway, I hope to be in Kennedy Meadows in another two days, because while I've still got some shred of insanity left, I going to try to make it back out to the trail tonight and I'm going to do as much night hiking as possible through this section. That's really the only way to deal with this sort of heat, and I'm just going to have to do it, and one way or another, I will make it through, somehow.