Thursday, April 22, 2010

So a typical day on the trail! Wake up early. Usually before the sun, which usually means its quite chilly, and maybe even a little wet with the morning dew. So, it can be somewhat slow going breaking down the tent, drying the down sleeping bag before stuffing it into the bag, and packing away everything in your pack. Its been critical to chug lots of water, at least 2 liters, and eat something loaded with calories, power bar or snickers bar, before you head out on the trail each morning. And don't forget to filter water and fill your nalgenes and bladders with more water for the day, because there isn't much on the trail, not even rivers or creeks in the desert. Everything is very dry and hot. Once you've strapped into your pack and had something to eat, you get on the trail and hike, hike, hike.

The trail through the desert mountains is gorgeous, with hardly any trees and small brush the views are always open and expansive. The flowers have been in bloom on the different cactus and other desert plants, with lizards running all over the place. Good luck soaking a lot of it all in without stopping in your tracks though. The trail tread itself is rough, and full of loose sand and small rocks from gumball to football size. So its important to constantly watch your step for sure footing to avoid rolling an ankle or worse. Didn't mention that many of the beautiful cactus, are cactus, with thousands of very sharp prickly needles leaning into the trail you got to avoid, along with the rattle snakes lurking between them and boulders.

You want to be on the trail early in the morning to take advantage of the lack of sun and scorching heat. By 10 am, its hot. By noon, its blistering, and stays that way till about 4pm. If you're looking to take a break for water or one of your daily 3 snacks(snickers bar, power bar, peanut butter, or pop tarts), you had better do it in some shade. Sitting and taking a break in direct sunlight is just as bad as walking in it. Without many tall vegetation, shade is just as scarce as the water. So, when you must rest, you are scrambling to find anything that will offer you a shadow. Laying on the trail, under chest high bushes, or under a massive boulder. I;ve found myself even cutting away at small bushes to make shade to crawl into. Each time you break for shade, water, or a snack, your socks and shoes ought come off your feet too so they can breath and lower the risk of blisters, or more blisters.

Anytime there is a chance to fill up on water or filter some, you stop and do so. Because you never know when the next water hole will be. And if you feel like you've hiked enough for that day, or think the next water source for camp is too far to reach before daylight fades, you start looking for a place to camp in the area. There are a few designated campgrounds along the 2667 mile trail, but most nights, yo are just looking for a flat, sheltered area on the desert floor, away from poison oak. Once you've found it, and finally gotten to the trail's end for the day, and your feet, legs, back, and shoulders are sore, you still have a couple hours worth of chores to attend to before laying down for bed. I usually start by unpacking my tent and getting it set up. Hopefully the spot you've picked is flat spot without many uncomfortable rocks to sleep on. With the tent set up and your sleeping pad and bag inside, its time to fetch the evening's water for dinner. That entails walking down to the creek or whatever water source you hopefully camped near by with your water treatment. I use the platypus gravity bags, which i think is described in an earlier post on this blog. Usually sitting on the ground, fending off the ants and spiders, you start cooking dinner with the water. Make sure you position yourself so the wind doesn't blow out your fire from the pocket rocket stove while you're waiting patiently for your water to boil and food to cook. Again, the food you eat for dinner is crucial to how well you do the next day. It should include well over 700 calories at least, some protein, carbs, and maybe some starch or veggies. The smart thing to do immediately after eating is to clean the pots and other dishes used, so they are easier to do so. But sometimes after eating a big meal, usually in the dark by now, it's easier, or tempting to just leave for the morning and get ready for bed. Either way, sleep is still yet to come, with a few more tasks to complete before retiring. I always make sure everything is packed away in my backpack, minus the gear I'm using to sleep, so it's one less thing to pack and organize in the morning when its cold and you just want to get to walking again. usually about this time, I'm thinking about using the little boy's room, which is actually more like a small secluded spot away from camp in the bushes, hopefully with no hiding cactus. Now with your pack packed and inside the tent, you can crawl inside the warmth of a sleeping bag and go over tomorrow's agenda. Know where water will possibly be next. How far will I, or may I, get tomorrow? Get the maps and literature for tomorrow's trail ready. And go ahead and get tomorrow morning's breakfast unpacked, and ready to eat. Then, with the last bit of energy you have left, write a bit about the days adventure and sights in your journal. Goodnight!

Looks like one more night here at Warner Springs resort, thanks to the best trail magic I've encountered yet. Tom, from Vail, Colorado, was giving rides to the kickoff party back at Lake Morena county park, and bought my room for the night. Refusing any payment at all from me, he only gave me a load of oranges, two bundles of firewood for the room, and his information so i could contact him later for any other help. Unbelievable! I was completely humbled and could not thank him enough. The room has three beds so I've been searching for other thru hikers to share the room with so they can have a free warm place to stay the night too. They are calling for more snow tonight again, but I will be leaving rain, snow or shine, first thing in the morning, and will be leaving the blog to the family again after this post. I should be on the computer again later tonight, just to answer any questions any of you all may have for me. Just leave comments and questions by clicking the comments button just below this post. Thanks again for the support and reading up on the trails.


Peggy said...

Zac we are really enjoying your (or Brant's) post. Take care and God Bless. love ya Paggy

mreyn60559 said...

Zac this is Mark. I am having a great time following you on the trail. I read about you daily progress as I have my first cup of coffee in the morning. Google earth helps me follow the terrain and is super cool! Any way to have a cold beer on the trail? Have a great time and stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the updates Zac. I know you are having the time of your life. Be safe and we are praying for you. Love you!

Cousin Carl said...

Keep it up Big Zac. It sounds like you are having a great time.

We are following your progress every day. We drove Hwy 8 from San Diego to Yuma a couple of years ago when we were out West on a trip. I know the terrain that you are hiking and I am sure that it has been tough but beautiful.

Stay hydrated and keep on smiling. Talk to you later.

Kelly said...

Hey Zac, Kelly from YNP, Seems like you are kicking ass out there! And all of the advise about how you are going about it is great... We are planning our hike around Lake Yellowstone this summer! Hope that you are staying hydrated and safe out there! Good luck and Happy Trails!!!!