day 14: why am i carrying an ice axe through the desert??


201.1 – 218.5

the little hollow in the mountain hosts not just all of us hikers but also a howling windstorm. i wake every hour, convinced that my shelter is about to be torn apart but somehow it survives & so do i & i wake up to a beautiful sunrise weary but ready to hike.

i’m grateful for the relatively cool morning air as i trot down the last four & a half miles of mount san jacinto. from miles away i can see a paved area where someone has installed a water fountain & i imagine in great detail what it will even feel like to drink out of it. i call josef when i get there. he asks me when i’ll be in big bear. “wednesday, i think”. “okay,” he says, “i’m going to come meet you there.” i had been hoping that he would say that ever since we’d started talking about him maybe joining me for a while. ecstatic, i hang up the phone & start the next stretch which crisscrosses through a barren, sandy & wind-swept plain towards the i-10 underpass. 

i never imagined that in my life i would be so relieved to sit under a bridge but as soon as i arrive all of my great aspirations to push on another couple of miles before lunch dissolve & i collapse into a heap next to a styrofoam cooler full of cool water & stay there for the next hour and a half. at first it is just hikers & then slowly people start arriving one or two at a time. they are trail angels & they bring wonderful gifts like lemonade & fruit & candy. this is good because after doing some vaguely scientific calculations yesterday evening, i realized that my too heavy food bag actually contains just barely enough food to get me to big bear lake on wednesday. now, though, with my stomach full of a cookie & strawberries & lemonade & an added banana & grapes & candy for later i should have more than enough snacks for the next 57 miles. i am elated- one less worry for my mind to dwell on. 

the nine mile stretch which leads from the underpass towards the san gorgonio wilderness feels difficult beyond belief. part of it is the wind, part of it is the sun, and a large part of it is in my mind. i try to remind myself what anna told me (although i forget where she got it…): “you can do anything for ten minutes.” the wind mills watch over me like silent sentries. 

“why does the last mile always feel so long?” sighs swedish fish & i nod sadly & trot down the hill as quickly as my wincing feet will allow. “kind of galling, isn’t it?” asks hamlet nodding towards the sign at the junction. 1/2 mile off trail to camp at the whitewater preserve. “this better be good,” i mutter darkly, & it is. there are bathrooms & running water & the sound of frogs. the place is full of hikers, many of whom skipped the last nine mile section from i-10 & hitched here. 

i cook one of the bougie ramen packets that annabeth sent me & add some freeze dried peas. it’s good & i’m beginning to realize that there’s some merit to a hot meal at the end of the day. some of the germans had brought back a case of coors & the party goes late but i put myself to bed in my little shelter before 8pm & the wind drowns them out anyway.


6 thoughts on “day 14: why am i carrying an ice axe through the desert??”

  1. Oh girl, a friend and I have been following your blogs and hadn’t seen any recently until today. I am so relieved you are alive and well (mom mode kickin’; in…lol) I was worried you’d pass by me and I wouldn’t have a chance to bring you some goodies. I already have a few. List some things that you would like. My son and I can meet you and your fellow hikers. I live really close to Mojave River Forks campground. It’s practically in my backyard. Maybe a 10 minute drive. My son just hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain so he can relate. Looking forward to more of your blogs. Keep going…best of luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How relieved you must have been to come across those wonderful goodies! Stay safe and keep going strong. I’ll continue to follow your blog~


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