May 12, 2017
I opened bleary eyes reluctantly to a peaceful dawn. After the fierce wind yesterday and last night, I wanted to turn over and bury my head in my pillow, drifting into another few hours of blessed sleep. Only I didn’t have a pillow. And miles of trail were waiting to be hiked.
A water cache at Bird Spring Pass gave us enough water for the day. Once again I found myself thinking grateful thoughts to the unknown trail angels who hauled water up dirt roads just for the love of it!
Gopher, from London, was already getting water when I arrived. He looked much more cheerful and wide awake than I felt.
“Where did you spend the night?” I asked, wondering if he had found better shelter than a flattened tent.
Gopher gestured to the nearby Joshua trees shading the water cache. “I sort of burrowed into a group of those tree-thingies a few yards down the slope.”
“Joshua trees,” I said.
“Oh, are those Joshua trees? Well, now I know!” Gopher looked pleased. “What about you? Did you find shelter?”
“Not really,” I shook my head. “We cowboy camped on top of our tent, amid the cow patties down in the valley. When the wind quit around 11:30 p.m., we set up the tent.”
“Cow patties? So those things are from cows?” Gopher smiled. “I wasn’t sure. But such big poop! I was hoping it was cows!”
“Yes,” I laughed. “The cows were across the valley, where it was a bit sheltered from the wind, but too steep for us.”
We parted with calls of “See you down the trail.” I felt more cheerful, though I knew only a good long nap would completely restore my equilibrium.
We saw several bushes with bright yellow, waxy blooms. Once again Jay deployed the California Wildflower app, and we were rewarded with the shrub’s name – California flannelbush. I’m afraid, in my sleep-deprived state, that all I could think of was comfortable flannel pajamas! But the information on the wildflower app warned us that hairs on the leaves could cause a rash. Best to be admired from a distance!
From the top of our first big climb of the day, Jay saw a flock of Clark’s nutcrackers, making their loud calls to each other.
I enjoyed seeing rocky rims on a ridge as we climbed.
I sighted one more flower today, the arrow-leaf balsam root. This flower grows in the Sierra Nevada mountains near our home in Nevada. Sighting it for the first time today made me feel like our hike was truly bringing us closer to home.
Much of the day was spent on top of ridges, with little shelter from vagrant stray breezes, bringing cold temperatures across the land. When dinner time rolled around, we were determined to eat without a chilly puff of air sliding down our necks. We settled upon a solid outcrop of stone, higher than our heads. Sitting at its base, we had a perfect view of two round boulders still in the sunlight. Black lizards evidently made this their home. A couple of lizards did pushups before chasing each other up and down the rock. It amazed me, watching them run straight up a vertical surface. One even clung upside down to an overhang for a brief second. I never knew how many lizards were there, as we witnessed numerous chases, several sun warming sessions with pushups, and even one brief mating. The finale was a three way chase, large lizards charging across the boulders at dizzying speeds! Exciting stuff for dinner entertainment!
May 13, 2018
“Good morning! It’s a town day!” Jay whispered, grinning at me in the dawn light. I stuck my nose out of my sleeping bag. Brrr! I snuggled against Jay, seeking a bit of warmth, delaying the morning chill for a few precious moments.
Though we only had about seven miles to hike before reaching Walker Pass, I was determined to enjoy the sights as we hiked. Flowers outdid themselves!
Once again Jay’s California Wildflower app came into use, and we discovered one of the flowers bore our name!
Not only did individual flowers abound, but whole hillsides were covered with blooms!
When we finally reached Walker Pass Campground, a day hiker offered us a ride to the nearest town, Inyokern. Pavel and his dog, Roxie, were great company! Pavel had immigrated to the United States with his family when he was ten. He still had a charming Russian accent. I couldn’t resist asking him about a Russian idiom I had read once, “…something about a crayfish whistling on a mountaintop?”
Pavel laughed. “Yes, it is a real idiom, though a bit old-fashioned. And perhaps it is a lobster. But yes, something with claws. ‘That will happen when a lobster whistles from a mountain top.’ A bit like the English idiom of ‘when pigs fly’.”
Pavel dropped us off at the only burger joint in Inyokern, where we ate a delicious lunch of bacon burgers and french fries (instead of trail food – sardines and raisins!).
We then checked into the only hotel in Inyokern. Sitting on the bed after our showers, Jay and I looked at each other. We’d made it! 650 miles! It’s been quite an adventure, with only 2,000 miles to go!