I hear some strange noises in the night like something being eaten alive. I think it was a fox but still it sounded like a mountain lion eating something….. Everyone heard it and we discuss it at length as we all slowly emerge from our tents - or don’t. Big Boy Scout talks to us through his tent as Atellabun rolls up a cigarette slowly. I met them both back at Hiker Town and have been leap frogging them both since then. Atellabin was stuck at Hiker Town for over ten days as he was waiting for his infected blister to heal. It was pretty bad. I heard Puss head out super early, before dawn. I get some more water from the trickle of the stream which flows into a muddy valley, trampled by the cows. Flies hover here and there over it.
I decide to copy the plan of walking 7 miles to the next water source and waiting out the heat of the day there until the cool of the evening comes and night hike. I’m slow yet again as my feet hurt but I get there eventually. No idea where Puss went but I meet Atellabun there. We chill in the shade and drink some homemade raspberry wine that his Dad sent out and nap as others turn up seeking solace from the sun.
There ends up being about ten of us chilling in the shade. It’s too hot to do anything so we all just laze in the sun and have to move every now and again as the sun moves. The water source is a lush spring which flows into a metal trough - which apparently the day after I was there some hikers saw a family of bears come to drink from it and watch a baby bear climb inside.
It’s so nice to chill and do very little. I catch up with my journal, drink, read ahead for the next sections, drink, pee, calculate when I need to resupply, drink, nap, pee, drink, eat. Two guys turn up and speed around on dirt bikes. They leave coke in the trough to cool down and we all joke that they left it as trail magic….they reclaim it after half an hour.
I then come to realise that I haven’t have a done off/zero day since I started hiking… I’ve walked at least 5 miles a day.
It’s so hot I’m looking forward to finishing this desert section. The next part is a 44 mile or 71 km stretch without water. There are 2 rumoured water caches but I still have to leave with about 5 litres, some have 9 litres. We begin to peel off after 5:30pm. The sun is still intense but I head out at 6pm. I’ve drank at least 4 litres throughout the day and I’m carrying 5.5 litres. It’s still really hot and I pause for a mars bar on a stone and watch the sun sink down over the hills in the distance. I’m not very motivated to hike this section. I think about what it will be like to night hike which will be different.
I climb a bit, then follow the ins and outs of the mountain as it weaves in and out of the crevasses. In a straight line it’s probably a mile, but the extra bits it’s probably 3 miles. Atellabun catches up and I tail him till the dirt road appears and low and behold there is an impressive water cache. It’s huge! Crazy! I down a litre and then twilight happens. Snakebite, Atellabun and 5fingers set off before me and I get out my head torch.
Night hiking is so strange. It’s so quiet, little desert gerbils walking out in front of me. All I see is the trail in front of me and the few side bushes, everything is dark. I somehow hike a total of 13 miles and take a break. I turn off my headtorch amazed by the amount of stars that I can see. There is no moon so everywhere is pitch black apart from the stars. It’s so warm and I’m content sitting there in my hiking shirt. I chill for about 20 mins then I hike on for an hour and sleep next to the trail on a sandy flat patch. It was right next to the trail and I startle two hikers who walk by. I try to sleep but know I have to be up for 4am. It’s midnight, the stars are brilliant. I lie there, wide awake and look at the numerous amount of stars here. I know my brother Tom would love this as he is into astronomy. It’s so still. I can hear tiny ants scurrying over me. I don’t know what time I eventually fall asleep.