The one about reaching the end of the desert
We spent two nights in Tehachapi resting. I felt a bit sad for the first time on trail and I don’t really know why. It think it was my body just being exhausted and in need of sleep. So that’s what I did. I didn’t leave the motel room during the entire day, I just took some naps and organised my pack.
We bought some food for the Sierras. Luckily I have two engineers around me who loves numbers and they’ve calculated that we’re aiming for 4000 calories a day, not weighing more than a kilo (2,2 lb). To reach that goal we’re going to mix Baby formula (full-fat powdered milk), chocolate protein powder and peanut butter to a drink every day. It’s very lightweight and also means we can drink a calorie dense chocolate milkshake everyday. Which will give us more than half of our daily intake. The rest will just consist of bars, oats and dinner meals. Pretty awesome.
Me and Golden started hiking again at 6pm the day after our zero. My feet hurt already because of my shoes. After having more than 500 miles on them, they’re all worn out by now. I’ve stitched them up and used duct tape and glue to keep them from falling apart. Which made a half-ass job. I still can feel every pebble I step on and dirt is getting in through small holes on the side. My new shoes are waiting for me at Walkers pass. I just need to walk 80 miles to get there first.
We did the so called Tehachapi Death March, an ascent up a mountain with little shade, during the night. It was a good idea, even though it sucks not getting enough sleep. From where it started is actually the same place where Cheryl Strayed started her thruhike. It’s also pictured in the movie Wild (2014), which I found was pretty cool.
We camped on top of the mountain and woke up to fog surrounding us. We didn’t leave camp until after 9pm, and the desert had a surprisingly nice breeze and cool temperature. We left the last wind turbines behind us, and I can feel how the desert is slowly coming to an end. Which makes me both happy and sad. The desert will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the beginning of it all. And it’s been more magical than I could ever imagine it would be. The hard moments I can count on one hand, and almost every day I say this has been the best day so far!
I wake up feeling nauseous and weak. I still eat my breakfast but puke it up a few hours later. I don’t know if it’s something I’ve eaten or drank but I feel completely wiped out. Every ten steps I need to take a break. I stop two times and sleep next to the trail and try to eat something small. After reaching the water source three hours later than everyone else I finally start to feel better. We met up with some people we hadn’t seen in 3 weeks and camp with them at night. I had an amazing sleep and we wake up to our sleeping bags being covered in frost.
Even though the night was so cold, the day proved to be brutal. We take a siesta by a big rock and reach camp after dark. I felt so strong and was actually running down the trail under the moonshine for the first time.
In the morning I see a family of deers and we manage to get a glimpse of the Sierras. The snow covered peaks are visible in the far distant and it feels so crazy that we’re going to be there soon. I pass the mark for a 1000 kilometres and eat a bag of chips and listen to Swedish music to celebrate. Celebrate everything I did but also everything that lies ahead.
After about 7 weeks on trail we’ve sort of gotten a routine. We usually set our alarms very optimistically at 6am but snooze long after that. I eat my overnight oats from bed and try to do as many chores as possible without actually leaving my sleeping bag. I tend to my feet which are still scarred with blisters and eventually deflate my pad. The saddest noice of the entire day. Then we pack up our shit, a bit more efficient each morning, but still not as fast as people around us. I fill my hipbelt pockets with snacks for the day, electrolytes and coffee. I pour one sachet of coffee and drink it cold from my bottle during the first hour of the morning. We leave after 8am most days. I love the first and last hours of the day because the light is so beautiful. And I’m always excited for the day, not knowing where we will camp or what we will see along the way. Most of the day I hike alone, either listening to music or podcast or just my head. The radio station in my head repeats my feet hurt how far to the next water source I’m hungry I can’t wait to put my pack down wow this view is awesome my shoulders ache I’m so happy to be here can I afford to buy a warmer sleeping bag how will the Sierras be like I need to dig a cat hole how many more miles. Not so many deep reflecting thoughts. Mostly just about the basic needs in life.
Hiking and chatting with other people are usually a bit slower but we call it free miles, because you almost forget you’re walking when you’re talking. We filter water and I try to carry about 1 litre per 5 mile. Around noon we stop for lunch and I usually eat tortillas with cheese and salami, sometimes together with spinach to make the illusion that I’m eating healthy. We usually try to take a break for one hour but it’s most often double or triple that time. Digging a cat hole can happen anytime during the day and is always a bit hectic. We hike into the evening light and often reach camp after dark. I eat food that I have cold-soaked during lunch, usually mashed potatoes or ramen. And then try to get all the evening chores done as fast as possible, which is more or less the same as in the morning – just in reverse. If I’m feeling fancy I’ll wipe down my face with a wet wipe. We talk for a while before falling asleep around 10pm. And then do it all again tomorrow.
The last days of the desert before reaching Kennedy Meadows were beautiful. The scenery changed and I could feel how we were getting closer and closer to the snow and the mountains. I got rained on while climbing a pass during a thunderstorm and it made my heart full. My new shoes that I picked up in Walker Pass made me feel like I was walking on clouds. I felt so strong. We packed out red wine and cheese and crackers and celebrated the last night of the desert.
We reached the entry to the Sierras on the 1 of June, 7 weeks after starting at the Mexican border. Gadget picked us up at the trailhead in a car he had rented and we went to Grumpys where we were greeted by claps by the other hikers. I felt such a strong sense of community and accomplishment. We had all walked that 700 miles to get there. And we all equally belonged to the trail and to this world.
◦ Night’s cowboy camping: 41
◦ Clif bars devoured: 132
◦ Blisters: 6
◦ Beers: 61
◦ Rattlesnakes: 19
◦ Zero days: 8
Miles 558-702 (714-1129km)
3 things I’m grateful for:
Red wine from a smart water bottle.
The trail magic from Gadget.
Reaching the end of the desert.
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