6/22: Joshua Trees Are Cool.

Woke up this morning at a quarter to 6, and looked out of my bivy to see how much of my shoes & pack was left. Apparently they were both still intact, but also still covered with ants. It was a full and total infestation. I schemed my escape & placed a final jihad on the ants who obviously hadn’t learned from their friends demise the night before, and was up, de-anted & on the trail by 6:38. With two passengers I had missed apparently, and they continued their assault on their tribes’ nemesis by biting my leg & back. They each lived .34 seconds after the first bite. Now  completely ant free, I started a 25 mile waterless stretch. Thanks to trail angel Emmy, though, it was less than that, as she had stashed a GREAT water cache, complete with lollipops & Jolly Ranchers, a few miles up the trail. Thank you!!

Did a short road walk to get over highway 58, rescuing a snake from the middle of the road. Apparently it had been hit, and had sustained a couple serious wounds. I did the best I could do, which was encourage him out of the middle of the road with my trekking poke, while directing traffic around our little rescue operation. It was plain to see what I was doing (the snake was pretty large), but I still got a rude, impatient look from a guy in an SUV. Really? For a moment I wished he could switch places with the snake to see how it felt…even for just a few seconds. My hand motion to him was a touch more emphatic and aggressive in nature, and it seemed to be effective. Now I know what my future occupation is: Crosswalk Enforcement Officer. That way if anyone asks what I do, I can tell them I’m a CEO. Perfect. 

I got a little turned around after crossing the 58, but stopped, checked my maps (thank you for such good maps, Halfmile!) and figured I’d backtrack. Sure enough, I’d zigged when I should have zagged, and I got back on the right trail. Soon after I was beginning the ascent of the first mountain in the Sierra. 2,000 feet up, over 100 degrees, and not even noon. Beautiful! I met Mr. waffles, a kindergarten teacher who had moved to Tehachapi from Lancaster. Nice guy. I hope you find a quality old school cinema spot in Tehachapi, Mr. Waffles! Then, I caught up with Bob (just Bob, from Minn-eh-SOH-da), and we took an hour break from the heat under a Joshua Tree. (Which reminds me…one of the best all-time album covers, of one if the best all-time albums, by one of the best all-time bands of all-time, ever: ‘Joshua Tree,’ U2). We talked football, mostly, and he headed out after an hour…I had planned to spend 2-2.5 hours, eat, update my journal entries, maybe even take a siesta…

As I sit under this Joshua Tree, I’m overlooking the desert floor (I’m currently sitting at 5,000 feet). Below me is the Mojave Airport, and Edwards A.F.B. is nearby as well. Mojave is where they film a lot if airport tarmac scenes, since it’s so open with fairly good weather, and a lot of military aircraft training and testing takes place over the wide-open spaces of the Mojave desert. In fact, one aircraft was just flying over the area, and it’s jet engine made such a powerful, aggressive, ferociously loud sound…then it stopped entirely…then 4 seconds later it was back to full force again, then stopped, then again came back. Really interesting! I looked for it, but only saw a short stream of brownish fumes, which dissipated within moments from the sky. It was a very different sound than anything I’d heard before, I’m bummed I didn’t get to see the actual craft.

Looking forward to catching up with Leader and Music Man, and having Stickman & the Tang & Ticks Trio catch up with us as well. I’m looking at doing 22 today, so far I’m at 11, so I’m sure that’s doable. From here on out, I’ll be hitting the 20’s each day. This first 500+ miles I’ve battled sore feet, mainly my arches, which really hampered me up until Idyllwild. In Big Bear I was able to slip some Superfeet insoles into my shoes, and they felt much better, but my feet still had healing to do, and I had to get them healed as I walked…a touchy proposition, and my feet let me know about their feelings. But now, there are much fewer established trail angels who open their homes to hikers, and more ‘serious’ stretches of trail. Starting with this section of desert, with very few water opportunities, and then the wildly snowed-up Sierra, it’s possibly the most grueling section. I’m looking forward to the Sierra very much…but right now, there’s 132 more miles of desert. 🙂

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