Saturday, April 23, 2016

Julian and Days After: Hiking in Chacos Requires Two Wet Wipes Per Foot

We were on trail again, our packs heavier than ever before. "You sure we dont have way more stuff in here now?" Both of us toting one new item that we had gotten in town, things weve been going mad without. Melissa and her deodorant and me with a hairbrush. We came into town hurting and hungry, caught a ride with an older German couple on vacation. "You want to ride? With us?" The woman asked when we ran up alongside the RV. When we got into our room, the proprietor wouldn't leave, explaining all of the amenities, explaining where he would be when checkout came around the following day. We dropped our bags and each shed our shoes and socks, tossing ourselves onto the bed. "Oh my goodness, I think this is the most comfortable bed I've ever been on! And the sheets! They're so soft!" We each took a shower, scrubbing what we could of the desert off of us, the water running down the drain completely brown for the first two minutes.
After washing our clothes in the sink and hanging them out to dry, we walked through town in search of a beer. Just off Main St sat a  small brewery with a dozen of their own beers, an outside patio and a couple other hikers. We sat there for an hour, drinking, soaking in having reception when three hikers sat down at the table next to us, asking us about our shoes, one of them bragging about his inability to get blisters. After a bit of mocking conversation, we played washers. When we won, I screeched, jumping up and down and finally grinning smugly (my version of good sportsmanship). We went back to our room satisfied and excited for the bed we were about to get into.
The next morning, we sat in our room until the clock flipped to 11:00 and when we picked up our packs, they weighed an incredible amount, and even more so when we added water and more food to them. But later that evening, our shoulders and hips throbbing, we made our way up three miles to a campsite situated in a small dried creekbed in between a bend in the trail so that when hikers walked past, it sounded as if they were walking right up to our tent. Late into the night we heard footsteps, far off voices and then the glaring headlamps shone into the tent, the fabric splintering it into many different sources. We woke once to the sound of voices and bright light, believing it must be daylight, but it was only 10:00pm and the moon acted as one monotonously intense spotlight.
We woke early, walking until midday to the next water source, where hikers laid langourously under the sparse shade. Melissa and I filled what we needed to of our nalgenes and found ourselves our own piece of shade under a small spiky tree until the sun lowered itself to position that wasn't miserable to hike under. We walked until we found a small cave they call Billy Goat cave, where we cooked our dinner, rested for ten minutes and walked another hour in search of a worthy campsite. As we reached the top of the ridge, there above the trail was a small flat opening. We set up our tent in the increasingly vicious wind and crawled in, thankful for the missing bugs and cool air coming in. During the night, we listened as the tent flapped in the wind, feeling sporadic droplets of water falling on our cheeks, and I wondered how strong the wind would have to be to pick us up and carry us right off the side of the mountain.
This morning, we sat up wondering if the wind was going to cut into us as we hiked as much as it did the tent.
The twelve miles to Warner Springs went by quickly, most of the mileage winding through fields and along a small stream. Tonight we will hike a while more, camping next to Agua Caliente where we can soak our feet and wash our face in the passing stream.