Out of the Desert After Struggles with Heat, Injuries

I am currently in Kennedy Meadows, resting and celebrating the fact that I am out of the desert and heading into the Sierra. I had some serious struggles throughout the desert. It was either dealing with various injuries or heat exhaustion. The mountains will bring their own struggles with the elevation gains but I’m ready for the change in terrain. I have missed the Sierra and am so excited to get back in them.

Back on Trail After the Injuries

To just catch y’all up, on my reentry to the trail after the extended time off for my feet injuries, I met back up with the group I was hiking with in Big Bear. I was feeling pretty good but nervous to get back out there on my feet. The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2s I purchased turned out to be just the shoe I needed. My feet held up so much better that they ever did in the Altras. I was a little worried the first day back on trail when my Achilles and arches started to hurt pretty bad after only five miles, but the next day they were feeling better. I didn’t have any real problems with them again until Cajon Pass. I struggled to get to the McDonald’s and once I got there and took my shoes off my feet swelled up for three days.

Skipping Miles

I made the decision to skip up from Cajon Pass to Wrightwood due to my severely swollen feet and actually ran into a couple other hikers at the Best Western in Cajon Pass who were doing the same. Theses wouldn’t be the only desert miles we all ended up skipping. Leaving Wrightwood, I was sick and the two other hikers I was with, Smoke and Stacy, were not feeling well either so the decision was made to bypass Baden-Powell and the frog closure and start around mile 398. We would end up skipping a few other sections as well to avoid the heat and lack of water.

Constant Battle with the Oppressive Sun

It took me awhile to be OK with skipping so many miles of trail. I had to come to terms with the fact that my body just can’t handle the heat. In fact, it took me passing out on the trail from heat exhaustion to have a full understanding of how bad it was getting. After that day I ordered a sun umbrella and had it shipped to Hiker Heaven. I also sent somewhere between four and five pounds of gear home. My feet thanked me for the lighter pack. The umbrella made a big difference with the sun but I still overheated a few more times on trail. At least I had shade whenever I needed to take a break.

The Beauty of the Desert

It wasn’t all sickness and pain. There were some parts of the desert I really enjoyed. One of my favorite experiences was my evening hike of the LA Aqueduct. I hiked out with Stacy and Gumshoe, a new hiker in my ever-evolving tramily. The magic of the desert came out that night. The sunset was stunning. I think we saw every color of the rainbow in the night sky. And after the sun went down we were treated to a beautiful, starry night sky. We saw a variety of desert critters: jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, scorpions, and camel spiders. The night ended as we set up camp among the wind turbines and we all fell asleep to the “womp womp” sound of the turbines spinning. The desert has hidden beauty, whether it be the surprising abundance of wildflowers or the hidden spring oases. I only wish I had been in a better state of mind to truly enjoy the hidden magic the desert holds.

Amazing People

I want to end this post with a big thank you to all the people who have helped me out along this trail. The trail has revitalized my faith in humanity and the kindness of strangers. I have been brought to tears by the generosity of complete strangers. A big thanks to all the amazing trail angels I have met along the way who have opened their homes, given rides, and fed all of us smelly hikers. The trail would not be what it is with out the kindness of y’all. Also the hikers I have met along the way who have supported me through my many, many mental and physical breakdowns. I 100 percent would not have made it as far as I have without them. A special thanks to Stacy and Gumshoe for helping me get through the desert in one piece with most of my sanity.

I feel I have made some friends for life already on this trail. I already have plans in the works to visit Stacy in Scotland to hike the West Highland Way trail. She unfortunately is leaving the trail here in Kennedy Meadows, as it is the end of her section hike this year.

Looking Forward

As I sit here in Kennedy Meadows I am constantly thinking of what is ahead: the Sierra. I am equally excited and nervous. I know initially I will struggle with the elevation changes and altitude. But I know the beauty the Sierra holds and can’t wait to be back in this granite playground with its light shows of alpine-glow and starry night skies.

Thank y’all for the continued support and interest in my journey. Check out my YouTube channel, Wandering Brittney, for more frequent posts.

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