Today was a big day, a long hard day..
The country side is changing. It is becoming more rugged, dry and isolated. I have ran into more bears than people in the past week (7 bears). For a day or so we wind through high up, remote ranch land. The only things I see are empty shot gun shells and mountain lion prints in the dirt. Some the size of a humans hand. I can tell that they have been stalking a hiker just ahead of me..
I wind my way through this rugged rim trail, hiking at a fast pace. I avoid small rocks and roots with each step to save the ankles. If there is larger ones I will just step on them to keep stride. As I was winding my way up the trail, I took a step, out of the corner of my eye, I look at were my foot is landing. Somehow I put the air brakes on and stop with my right foot suspending about 4" above a 3.5 - 4' rattlesnake. I pause for a moment... take a deep breath... and slowly rewind my step...
A couple days ago we had temperatures dropping at nights well below zero, with heavy frost and some snow. This took a couple people right off the mountain.
Every day since has been getting increasingly hotter. This morning for the first time on the trip I woke up with a headache. Likely to do with the heat and dehydration. Day time temperatures have been well over 100'F. First thing in the morning I tried to hydrate as much as possible, though with the conditions and steady climbing, my body continually sweated it out.
Water was plentiful in the early morning with many streams, creeks and springs to choose from. Then things shifted without any real notice. Within 2 days we had back to back 26 & 35 mile stretches without water. The trail rose above the tree line and I was completely exposed the entire day. Five water sources were completely dried up...
I stopped at a side trail that lead to an off trail source and found a note:
"Dry stagnant Pond - Save your precious steps"
A decision had to be made:
At this point, I could not swallow! My mouth was so dry if I attempted to my throat would painfully crack and not close. I looked at my watch, my empty water reserves and my maps. I was so dehydrated that if I slept, I felt this would have serious negative consequences on my body.
I pushed throughout the dark night until I finally came across a landmark, a faint grown over old dirt road that lead down and away from the trail. I followed it until I heard that welcoming sound.
Running water! It was a small spring almost in a tiny cave.. It was cold and refreshing to the touch.. I drank 2.5 litres beside the spring..