1382 – 1400
Before the sun was up, I heard big footsteps nearby. I sat up fast to see cows, a bunch of them. Eating something, maybe sticks. Not at all alarmed by my sudden appearance.
Cows weren’t the only animals visitors. The dust on the trail showed a variety of non-human prints. Small paws with long toes, tiny mouse prints. One with large defined toe marks, were those some kind of trail runner? No, not a trail runner.
A bear walked by my campsite, not super close but enough. And recently, judging by the sharp outline of the prints. I followed the prints for a dozen feet before they stopped.
Smaller tracks peppered the dust alongside the bear footprints. I had seen kangaroo rats the night before. Just like hundreds of miles ago, back in the desert.
And just like back in the desert, I was in a shadeless, dry, hot place. I would only pass two water sources today.
I trudged along beside trees made of charcoal. A huge bird soared above. Maybe a condor. Probably a buzzard.
The first water source was nearly a mile down into a ravine, “four short switchbacks” according to the description on Guthooks. By short, I guess they mean steep, crumbling, and terrifying. I needed to fill up so I walked all the way down. The creek at the bottom was full of fast cold water. A lovely sight on a hot day. And the walk back up wasn’t nearly as hard as getting down.
Then I was tromping across the land of no shade, sweating and red in the heat. Three Sobo hikers came towards me. I recognized one of them. I listen to her podcast.
I’m not very cool when I meet people I admire. We stopped to talk. I told them about the bear print and the water. Then I ran away before I could blabber to Nicole about how much I like her show.
I was feeling sweaty and stank by the time I rolled into Cache 22. It’s a big tank of water maintained by a local firefighter. I sat in the shade and drank water. Small birds sipped water from the puddles under the spigot. All was quiet until some Sobos pulled in. They were all excited to reach water and shouting about it.
I figured I had at least one more hour of hiking, if not more. It got dark but not much cooler. I carried on with my headlamp until it flickered out. Then I used the light on my phone. Kangaroo rats bounced in the light. I walked downhill till I came to a soft spot under a big tree.