Miles hiked today: 21.6
Camped at: Tule Spring with Susan and Hemlock
My feet are pleasantly sore tonight after our first 20+ mile day, and happier overall than yesterday on all of that hot sand in the afternoon (today was pleasantly cloudy for portions of the day). Is it utterly obvious, but howdo you tell if your feet are growing out here? My shoes are a full size bigger than normal, as many hikers had recommended for the desert in particular, and while I haven’t noticed any obvious fitting issues, I can’t tell if I have as much wiggle room as I used to. It’s just so odd to think about. Would my toe socks fit differently? These are the types of non-profound thoughts that occur to me out here :).
We got an even earlier start than normal today, and were hiking at around 5:30am, anticipating our first planned 20+ mile day. Hemlock went on ahead and hiked by herself for most of the day, while Susan and I had fun hiking together. I deliberately did my steady 2 mph pace in the hopes that I could keep that up all day long, which I think was a good strategy as I finished feeling really good. We had sustained climbing until mid afternoon (gosh, I love the switchbacks out here!) followed by lots of downhill (knees say ouch). It helped that it wasn’t too hot, and even though Susan and my siesta spot was rather slope-y, it was shaded and had a great view, if you craned your neck just so to see around the brush ;). The early morning was just glorious, and we passed through such interesting boulder fields early on. It’s continually stunning to me that we hike through so many different habitats in 1 day, impossible to describe fully.
Some animal spots today: lots and lots of lizards, including a very well camouflaged one, and one that was unfortunately injured – usually they scamper away as quick as can be, but he just sat on a small rock in the middle of the trail. In fact, I almost stepped on him. Susan and I also had an “almost”‘rattle snake encounter – 4 guys who we’ve been hiking near for the past few days had yelled back across the valley to us: SNAKE! By the time we got up there, we heard some noise in the brush, but it really didn’t sound like a rattler to me…and none of us saw it. We may never know the truth! An aside: a nice thing about this ridge walking and seeing where you’re going and where you have been, is spotting other hikers and waving at friends. Pictures just don’t come out like the scenes are in real life.
Tomorrow we go into Idyllwild for our first true zero day on Saturday, after visiting the Paradise Valley Cafe for my mayday umbrella box that Mom sent. Mr. Gimpy, as I named my umbrella upon completion of the surgery earlier this week, is holding up well all things considered!