Pacific Crest Trail

Unexpected adversity in the heat

Day 39

I had a long stretch without reliable water sources ahead of me today as mentioned in the post preceding this one. Thus, at four am I was already walking, but even then you could sense that it was going to be a very warm day. There were hardly any wildlife or shadow along the trail, and only small bushes and other small plants. It was pretty harsh conditions I therefore brought out my reflective umbrella holding that in one hand and one of the hiking stick in the other. That worked well for some time but then the heat really picked up and broke one of the sprockets or whatever you call the plastic arms of an umbrella an I had to put it away. Luckily I soon made it to a water cache with some shade nearby. Here I cooled down for a while and had my lunch, which was nice. Bumped into the Danish guy and his hiking partner whom I had thought were ahead of me but apparently they had also taken two zeros in Tehachapi.

At 3:30 pm I thought it would be reasonable to give the next stretch a go as things had cooled down slightly. It was 550m (1600 feet) and a 7.5 mile stretch. That wouldn’t normally be a problem at all. However, shortly after I got up it became apparent that despite keeping all the potential problem areas clean, I had gotten a chafing issue that I had not felt at all before. Pains sometimes only come after you have had a break, which must be what had happened here. Some petroleum jelly made things more manageable, though. Going up with my umbrella in one hand and a trekking pole in the other as before took the edge of the heat except for the sections where the sun was perpendicular to the rock side where it was quite hot, making it preferable to go slowly. I was going glacially slowly in the baking heat. Two hours and only three miles later I finally made it to the shaded side of the mountain, which was so much better. Took a break but getting going again the chafing had gotten much worse, my body was aching from multiple places, and Iwas hungry but just wanted to be done with it. Put on some intense music in both ears even though you are only supposed to use one ear plug so you can also hear snakes etc. During the last stretch I checked my phone a gazillion times to check how long I still had to go, and finally made it to the camp site, which at least was decent. Wow! That turn for the worse today was unexpected. I thought I had gotten on top of this. At the camp site I got a handful of insect bites before I knew of it, so I quickly got into my tent. Opening my bag, I saw that unfortunately one of the water bladders had leaked like half a liter of water because I didn’t fully tighten the cap. My down jacket and running tights had gotten wet, so no catastrophe there as the critical stuff was kept inside a large plastic bag.

After cooling down just a bit I felt a thousand times better, and fell asleep to some music. Zach Condon of the band Beirut sang: “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you smile”. That made me smile. It is not all bad.

Under my um-be-rella-ella-ella
Under my um-be-rella-ella-ella 🎶

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