Weather: just assume that it's wall to wall sunshine every day unless I say otherwise
Yesterday afternoon we stepped out of a cool-box (a big double-decker train) into a fan-assisted oven. LA had lulled us into thinking that the heat wasn't too bad. Half an hour of sitting in the shade in that heat had me fretting about the thought of walking in it.
Sundown brought a bit of respite, but it didn't get cool enough to get into my sleeping bag until just before 2am (and we didn't sleep in the van in the end, we took a mesh-sided gazebo tent thing, as it was cooler). After a woefully small amount of sleep (I really need to crack the sleeping thing), we got going at 4.30am. We weren't the first to leave - Lunchbox had a 1 hour headstart and another couple were half an hour ahead of us.
Talking to people it seems that yesterday's weather was the peak of a hot spell. Hottest day on the trail so far some have opined. That was a little comfort, to help my fretting.
After Mick's extra 2 miles to retrieve his sunglasses (found exactly where he thought he'd lost them, about 3 yards from his bed - lesson - don't wear sunglasses on your head when also wearing a headtorch) we walked until we were about to lose the shade and step out into the sunshine before stopping for breakfast. There we met Jeremy from NZ and another chap whose name escapes me.
The morning, as we made our way gently up to 4500', didn't give much variety in terrain and surroundings, but it's all new to us and I marvelled at number of different flowers and plants and even some interesting animal life (including three snakes in the first 2 hours, but none since and the most enormous butterfly I've ever seen).
I expected lots of plants in the desert, but I didn't expect them to be so green! I also expected the trail to be a bit more of a motorway, rather than a narrow path which is often overgrown (not that I'm complaining, it's rather nice).
Water is the big issue on this section, but we were assisted in spotting the first spring we passed by the three people already there filling up. So, just as our packs were feeling more reasonable, having already drunk 2 litres each of our load, we topped them back up again. The next two water sources are caches, and you shouldn't rely on a cache having any stock.
With the day really hotting up, we reached the cache to find that it did have plenty of stock and after a brief pause for elevenses (where we were inducted in the identification of poison oak), we decided to push on for an hour before finding shade. It was a really bad decision for two people not acclimated [sic] to this temperature. We got about half a mile before we came to that conclusion, whereupon after some consideration we opted to turn around and walked back to the cache, under a big shady tree. Obviously our day for repeating bits of the trail!
After a very brief nap, and much lying around, liberally covering us and our clothing in the desert dust (my light blue shirt already looks like I've been wearing it for a month and my hands are filthy; I haven't looked at my feet yet!), we decided to try one of our dehydrated meals for lunch. What a relief to find that it was entirely edible (hardly gourmet cuisine, but it tasted fine). That's one less thing about which I need to fret.
To be continued...
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