June 8 (Day 38)

Landers Meadow to Bird Spring Pass (608.9 to 630.8)

Daily miles: 21.9

A pack full of 100 mile food, and now, 42 mile water.  I’m weighed down with consumables, which are tricky things because I hike with the knowledge that eating/drinking them will make me feel better and lighten my load.  But to eat and drink them now would make life harder for my future self.  This is an example of a mental challenge.

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The energy I stored up overnight is replaced by lethargy.  Pain from my pack and exhaustion from the heat mount up and discomfort seeps down into my bones.  This is only temporary, I say to myself.  I say it over and over to little effect.  So then I burrow down into my mind-soul and make a hearth in the metaphysical realm.  Some people call this meditating.  It’s a trick I think most endurance athletes (this is how I think of thru-hikers, even if it is generous at times) rely upon, whether they call it such or not.  I sit in this metaphysical hearth, in an easy chair, with a cold glass of lemonade and cool my hands next to the ice-fire I’ve built.  This is how I pass the time when the heat becomes too much.

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The sun charts it’s course across the sky.  Joshua trees fan out and provide little shade.  The tread underfoot is loose sand and it’s like walking across some nightmare dune.  I feel my human-ness and it causes me dread, because this place prides itself on its inhospitability.  I drag my collection of limbs deeper and further, forever longing the sunset.

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At Bird Pass a saint has maintained a water cache. There’s 100s of gallons of water lined up in huge blue plastic containers.  I take 3 liters, and a strawberry poptart from the cooler.  Exhausted, I toss my things behind a large joshua tree and watch it’s needle-bursts become night silhouettes.  The sunset is brilliant, brilliant.  I feel kicked, and beaten, and tossed about, but the evening sky is like a salve I spread out over my weary body.

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