Wednesday, May 16, 2012

16 May - Day 26 - From a hot springs paradise to the torment of flies

Deep Creek Hot Springs (Mile 306.6) to Cleghorn Ridge (Mile 332)

Total Trail Miles: 25.4

Chris [Dionysus] here.
Dionysus, right?
Woohoo another 20+ day. We are really getting or momentum going now. And each day such a rich variety. 

Right now I am laying back composing this post atop an exposed ridge, Venus winking bright in the western sky, Castor & Pollux, Mars in Leo, and a great arc high in the sky from the Big Dipper swooping over to the warm red Arcturus and finally speeding over to the understated pair of Spica and Saturn. My feet are kicked up over my pack, new blisters freshly lanced, Ibuprophen just starting to take away the otherwise constant dull ache of argumentative joints and muscles. And as the breeze drifts over my exposed limbs I feel happy and proud - a basic contentedness over a day lived precisely as it should have been.

We started the day at Deep Creek Hot Springs. It was fun making breakfast from the hot water bubbling out of the sand bank. The other guys have slightly more extensive morning rituals than I do so I packed up my bag and had some extra time to boil my feet in the springs once more while eating a Snickers bar for breakfast (280 calories!).

That's our trail down there. Nice bridge, PCTA!!
We set off strong winding through a high steep valley following the creek below. We wove in and out of this landscape for a number of miles before coming to a dam and spillway for the Mojave River (it ended up being as much a contradiction in terms as it sounds - Mojave + river = drydrydry). Then started the long hot monotonous slog in and out of soft steeply eroded hills bordering the creek.

(It was hot. There is really no way of fully describing how oppressive the heat is out here.)

Then we started a game of leapfrog with a group of fellow thru hikers. They were taking cover under a bridge and we motored on, then later they would pass us, then we'd overtake them again, etc. Leap frog games happen almost every day out here - people have really different hiking rhythms.

Anyhow we plowed through the monotonous dry heat for hours only to find ourselves suddenly at the top of a small rise looking down on a great big lake and green hills everywhere. Apparently we hadn't been paying close enough attention to the maps because it came as such a delightful surprise. It was like we had suddenly been transported to somewhere on the Amalfi coast. We had a quick swim in the lake which helped bring down our body temp then we settled in for dinner at shaded picnic table.

And then they came. They came to eat us. Biting flies. It sounds ridiculous, or a petty annoyance, but you know that late in the day you just don't have the emotional resilience to manage a whole host of bugs incessantly swarming and trying to eat you. We decided that for the sake of our sanity we would hike on until there were no more flies. We payed for that decision. It was quite a ways to the next campsite but we finally found a great spot high on the Cleghorn Ridge overlooking the high desert plateau to the north. And a show of colors and contrails lulled us to sleep, even as a small group of hikers (our buddies Tina & Louisa and 3Bears & Justin leapfrogged us again).

Chuck, of course, has had *so* much experience in his travels with biting insects he was a model of calm sane coping. Here's a photo of how he copes:
After an afternoon of biting flies, Charles demonstrates his coping technique at the end of the day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. Thanks for the entertaining accounts of your progress. I just want to wish Charles a very happy birthday. I'm glad to see Charles's bearing out C.S. Lewis's observation: "“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

    Miss you guys. Glad to follow you this way, though. I don't usually advocate living vicariously, but this is actually fun!!

    Take care. LOL (in the David Cameron sense of the term).

  2. That's the way to go, guys. Thank you Charles and Vanessa for "The Hudson Review." I'm honored, as you should be.

    - doc