This is the last of the desert stretch, that’s what we had in our heads when we hit the Ol’dusty road from lake Isabella this morning. We were late to head out, after breakfast, last minute shopping our own personal angel, Goliath left us back at the walker pass trail head. The first car load was Quiz, myself (🌲Pine Cone🌲) , Princess Layers, Our Brucie and Justin. Perk and Dave we’re going to come after going to the post office in town and meet us at camp that night.
The morning’s climb
It was hot early on. Maybe it was 9:30/10am but our initial 700m over 5mile climb was hot and airless. As we ascended we saw views of the Owens River Valley and the desert floor towards telescope Peak and Death Valley. I always get excited if we are near somewhere that I have been before!! Owens Valley is the alternate route this year if you don’t want to climb the Sierras. It’s hot and dry and a heap more desert. Jamie, who we were hiking with days earlier told me that most of the water for LA was deceivingly purchased by the city from Owens Valley, to the dismay of many of the farmers there, who now cannot access/purchase water for their crops. It’s crazy to think that that dry lake bed is the source of much of the LA aqueduct we were walking on a week back. As we climb I see ridges in different stone. It looks like a light white granite. The change it has on the landscape is dramatic and it feels symbolic that we are finally changing scenery.
Yukka tree in full bloom
We stop at the top of the climb, it’s lunch, but we just sit on the path because it’s the only shade ( somethings never change). Princess Layers gets a call from Dave, he has shin splints and can’t walk. We are all devastated, we have been walking with Dave for nearly 6 weeks and can’t imagine finishing the walk without his funny sense of humour and max chill attitude.
We continue on, dropping into a river valley, Joshua Tree Creek, hoping that Dave’s splints are gone soon and that he can meet us in Kennedy Meadows. We collect water (leave a note for Perk who is following us) and climb a 350m ascent over a high saddle. Over the last couple of weeks I have been anticipating mile 666, the devil’s mile. I had recently been in the dollar store and bought some spooky accessories to pimp out that mile. When we get there we realise there is already a small stone arrangement denoting mile 666. We add the birthday candles I purchased, melting the wax onto the rock and additionally we weave together sticks we have collected into upside down crosses, pentagrams, Princess Layers makes a McCarthy era hammer and sickle and I even make a Carcosa pyramid (ty true detective) to bring the creepy vibes. We all write a note to satan and leave it in the crack of the rock. Mile 666 is looking spooked out as hell how and I’m stoked! Hail the dark lord!
We make it over the ridge and down to camp at the next Creek. We encounter our first biting flies of the whole trail! I guess this is what you get for selling your soul!