April 29: my first couple days of desert hiking went perfectly; on April 27, I hiked out of Laguna Mountain, hit trail magic around 12:30 in a state park, hung out for a couple hours, and hike on. April 28, I hiked into Julian around 1, got a ride into town to eat free pie, and then hit the trail again around 5. On April 29, with no prospect of state parks or pie, the plan was to start hiking early-!before sunrise- stop around noonish in a shady spot, hang out for a few hours, and then start hiking again about 3-4.
Here's the problem: when hiking in a place with no trees, when the sun is high overhead. Shade is hard to come by. Plus, once you do find shade, say by crawling under a bush on an incline with sticks poking you in the back, shade shifts very quickly. So 35 minutes later, your shade is gone. And you have to start hiking again in search of more shade.
I generally do not hike with music on. I prefer to listen to the wind, the birds, the animals scurrying around. Today, I needed something to get me through. When the sun gets high, it gets earily quiet. The ground squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits are all in holes. The birds are nowhere to be found. Even the insects are missing. So it's just you with the occasional hum of a grasshopper or rattle from a snake as you walk by. And then- SSSSHHHHEEEEOOOWWW!!!!! - an Air Force fighter jet flies by doing practice maneuvers. (Sometimes overhead, sometimes below you depending on how high you are and how daring the pilot is) Pretty cool to watch, but after a while even that just becomes part of the drone. The music was a must.
Plus, it became a sort of game: how many songs will it take to find another shady spot? Five songs? No. Ten songs? No. Fifteen songs? Nope. Seventeen songs will have to do- I'm squeezing into that spot. For 30 minutes. Until the shade shifts and I'm out shade hopping and song counting again.
But a couple of good things happened today. One- a whole bunch of us ended up camping at Barrel Springs - first water in 20 miles- and it took on a fun, social, party like atmosphere, like the shelters on the AT. Two- I found my hiker bubble (a bunch of people who hike at relatively the same speed and end up leap frogging past one another all day and camping near one another each night)
Plus there was this
Peace, love, and trail magic!