Hitchhiking

June 18

I have 3 days until the first day of summer to hitch to the Mexican border.

Record heat, near or even surpassing 120F. Instead of trying to leave it, I’m attempting to hitchhike towards it.

I have exactly 2.5 gallons of water. Enough food to reach and make progress on the Arizona Trail, but will have to find water fairly frequently. I’m not doing much exerting but can still easily drink this in one day.

I’m leaning on a cement bridge support beam beneath an overpass, it shading me from the early morning sun. It’s still cool.

Last night I slept on gravel beside an improved jeep track beside the highway, no sleeping pad. Too afraid of rattlesnake in the dark to find a better spot. My down sleeping bag is extremely warm when laid over like a quilt, for my tent was crammed and on jagged rock and I care too much about this bag to destroy it unnecessarily. I just picked this up from the post office and want to get a better sense of its warmth. The cold breeze blows around the edges that aren’t covered, which ordinarily isn’t enough to be cold midsummer. This hike, I’m not using any designated blanket to cut wind. Wearing the ghost whisperer jacket is enough to negate the cold enough to be comfortable and sleep.

Heat training makes everything feel colder, and being cold makes it impossible to stay asleep. I have some excess clothing or materials, can use the bag as a sleeping bag, I think I have adequate insulation to be warm enough to sleep.

Last evening I succeeded at parking my jeep and embarking. I have 3 days to hitchhike 750 miles towards the Mexican border. The summer solstice is the late evening of July 20, effectively making the 21st the first hiking day.

I want to be more excited, but I’m worried and fearful. I’m worried about being judged and despised for having long hair, braids, wearing stained clothing, hitchhiking, being desperate, inadequate sleep, being in need or want, wearing pants, wearing short shorts that show too much, being feral, being heat stressed and or incoherent and treated as an unsafe person and/or trash.

Right now I’m just trying to take advantage of this shade, clear my mind, get current on everything, organize my pack into smaller volume, so I can focus on try hard hitchhiking and covering miles.

iPhone appears to use 25% per hour, about twice as much as iPad. I’d love to be able to make more extensive pictures posts but I don’t have the time or resources to be a blogger. I’m not a thru hiker or adventurer. Nor am I a writer. I just want to write about and record this hike, consistently. It feels like writing is a way of sharing, of making it more real, and of taking s burden from my mind to be able to be more present.

I didn’t sleep enough but need to remain coherent enough and hydrated enough to not frighten people. Have to remove my flap from my cap, probably wear the orange Nike over the cotton, though the cotton is bleach white and new, not sure if I ….

Record Heat

June 17

Record heat is forecast for the next few days; so, I’m going to start on the first day of summer.

Last minute preparations are now in order. Ultra-lightweight down sleeping bag is at the post office just in time.

The biggest thing that stands out about the heat is how eventually it no longer feels that hot. It still requires drinking endless water. It just no longer feels as hot. 

Spending time in the grocery store and then stepping back out feels like being hit by a blast wave of heat, like a furnace.

Falling behind in water seems to immediately reduce sweating for even being slightly dehydrated seems to elevate core temperature enough to feel a fever type headache.

I’ve finally succeeded at removing all the fine knots from my hair, it now fully combable. In order to avoid the setting and clumping that will come with two months on trail, I’ve decided to braid it. I’ve decided to do this in public facility. There’s a mirror and there’s not very many people around.

I’ve never braided my hair before. It seems easier to double braid it, this way I can see what I’m doing, being unfamiliar with the motions enough to attempt a single braid blindfolded. Though this might be simpler it involving only 3 strands total vs 6 for double braids. My hair is wavy and frizzy and near impossible to isolate into three distinct strands that stay distinct long enough to braid. So I’m tieing the ends off to keep them compartmentslized, large long puffy frizzy hair, using the mirror in this public locker room. 

I’d never have guessed how difficult and long it could take to braid hair. There ordinarily not being very many people in here, except that it’s a Saturday. Words don’t describe the glances and faces and affect on people that a man gets for braiding his hair. 

It might pass acceptances to have long hair or even any variety of braided hair, but to be caught in the act of combing and separating and having a strand in my mouth while I try to hold it away from the other strand.

The looks of ‘what the fuck is wrong with you’ humiliating denigrating and a stark reminder of what some people really think. 

My enthusiasm and excitement for the hike plummeting as reminder of reality sets in. Even though I’m planning an isolated multi-month thru hike alone in the middle of nowhere, it’s still human condition to be affected by others. Perhaps, had I known the magnanimous effort it was going to take to braid my hair, I might have done it privately.

On the evening drive to park my car,  stress and pressure keeps building. A headache and migraine directly attributed to the stress and fears.

I pull over off the highway to repackage my backpack to be able to have more food and gear fit inside it. I’m carrying excess gear and shoes to be able to have the option of doing another long hike post AZT. Not everything fits in my backpack. Part of me wants to just car camp for the night and relieve some of this pressure and fear. But, I don’t want to give in to people that judge me or despise me. I don’t want for it to directly affect whether or when I start this hike that I so much want to do. An Asian couple parks nearby, now taking pictures of the golden sunset. I just ignore them, do my own thing, trying to reduce pressure, stay hydrated in the still intense heat.

This hike is midsummer. With all the hardships of any thru hike.

It’s too dark out to see if there’s any rattlesnakes about. I crudely pitch my little tent beside the highway, atop gravel. No sleeping pad. Only a double ply sheet of polycro, which I fear may be inadequate. This worked on the Hayduke. I feel like I have to trust experience and not carry excess. A deep ravine protecting me from being run over as the trucks roar by through the night.

Hitchhiking II

I’m taking the eastern state highways to avoid the major metropolitan areas. I don’t feel like being stranded or even robbed as was my hitch from yesterday. Train hopping, old mini van, safety pin nose piercing, gas checking, stories of being robbed and … ….

Final Heat Training

HEAT TRAINING / FINAL PREPARATIONS

June 16, 2017

Drank 3.5 gallons water today

Record heat is being forecast for the first few days of summer. The annual ‘Heat Dome’ effect. Extremely dry heat bakes itself into further oblivion. This now makes it fine to start on the first day of summer, June 20, instead of waiting until July 1.

This now feels all very last-minute. I may start hitchhiking south as early as tomorrow evening.

. . .

Seeing as I don’t particularly like training for a thru hike, I’ve decided to focus my efforts where it affects the most.

My main training concerns are firstly: heat training enough to be able to be functional.

Secondly: adapting to the sand that bonds to my socks. Most of the actual endurance fitness will have to come from the hike itself, or derivative of heat training.

So, today I focus my efforts on ascending in the heat. Similar to yesterday. The midday pure unadulterated sun. Carrying a good amount of pack weight.

Wearing single thin socks that feel like hard sandpaper. Today I’m wearing the 14 ounce prAna Zion pants to contrast them with yesterday’s cotton pants. The question of durability vs minimal adequacy.

Ascending rocky rugged terrain in the raw heat, while carrying weight, seems like the best effort towards training aside from actual full-out training. This in addition to spending the entire day in the sun prepping gear, drinking gallons of water and recovering from yesterday’s inadequate fluid intake.

I feel very strong in the 100 degree heat. No matter how strong I feel it still requires some effort to drink liter after liter. I feel like I can fall behind a bit and be okay, but still have to apply effort to keep constantly chugging liter after liter, lest I fall too far behind. The volume of water is disconcerting but needed. Falling behind swiftly affects or temperature and sensation of mild headache from elevated body temperature.

The magnitude of water being consumed is never ending. It’s now hot enough that it is harder to recover from dehydration while exerting, as the body can only fully intake and process anout a liter an hour, (despite being able to sweat several times that). If it’s hot enough, falling behind will lead to acute dehydration and inability to proceed.

. . .

Record high temperatures are being forecast with the upcoming first few days of summer. I was going back and forth on whether to start on June 20/21 the first day of summer or July 1, seeing as it’s the hottest month, and I can potentially thru hike prior to monsoon season.

Now that record temps are being forecast it seems fine, even preferable to start on the first day of summer. (The summer solstice is the evening of June 20).

The whole point of thru hiking mid-summer is the heat. It may very well be hotter if I start June 20/21 with temps approaching 120 degrees. It may never be that hot in July.

Additionally, I’ve been wanting to add something more to or after this hike. I considered doing an out and back of the AZT midsummer, but this has been done, the out and back part, not sure about summer. It would potentially be of more interest or a way to distinguish it. I don’t think I particularly want to yoyo hike it just because. If it really hadn’t been done before I might. Starting the AZT earlier makes it more viable to attempt something else during the summer.

I started looking more seriously into the GET (Grand Enchantment Trail.) I’ve considered it in the past but never in a way that constituted planning to actually do it. I’ve been wanting to do things in Death Valley during the summer, I’m doing the Hayduke double next year, this doesn’t really give me a summer for at least several years. If I’m ever going to thru hike it midsummer it may as well be considered this year. It would mean starting late July. It will be summer heat in the Phoenix area and then into monsoon season. It’s still midsummer heat. July would be preferable, but they may never be. It’s something worth thinking about, have the option of doing. The only reason it’s relevant now is that I need to bring or mail drop several extra pounds of gear that I would otherwise not need to bring. Like another pair of shoes for the GET in addition to the potential second pair for the AZT.

I’m feeling pressured to get everything in order 10 days sooner than expected. The record heat will be potentially 120, when my training has been at 105ish.

The only other thing that feels worth mentioning is how aggressive water intake needs to be for exertion at 120. Its easily at least 3 gallons per day, plus any amount that was in deficit to dehydration. If I drank a gallon pre hike, then finished a 2.5 gallon tank, this means I drank 3.5+ gal today.

I started out today dehydrated. I drank a significant amount yesterday but apparently not enough. From the start I’ve been playing catch up, while exerting and training more in the heat. It feels like I’m on track for 3.5 gallons today and I barely hiked, and it isn’t 120 degrees.

Today I finish making sure I have enough gear for the AZT and enough to have the option for the GET. Doing things like making a lighter weight shemagh, wonder how many miles I can gamble on a single used pair, and whether I should bring two or three? Should I mail something somewhere or just hike 300 miles to the GET and cache it there? Or maybe mail it off from somewhere on the AZT? Do I wear the 9 ounce cotton pants or do I just take more durable reliable gear? Do I wash all my clothes or is it just a wasted effort? I need to remember to bring the water purification tablets. Do I bring the rain jacket in case I do the GET? What about extra electricity? My extra gear just in case I want to keep on hiking is 3-5 lbs.

Close Call

My left foot within striking range, my right foot hovering over it, about to step on its distinct coiled body.

Jumping backwards seems to have awoken it, as it rips its head out from its entangled mass. It looks like it’s partially buried in the sand, concealing its size. The bush beside it is still shading it from the morning sun. As if it sought out last evenings rays and spent the night.

From a safer distance I take its picture. Leaning forward towards it triggers it to run. [Picture shows snake uncoiling/unravelling].

The heat has it at full mobility, no sluggish slither. A swift about face and run as it pulls itself towards the bush and uncoils and unwinds  itself in the process. A near four foot snake, with a coiled diameter of only 6 inches.

A reminder of how active and prevalent rattlesnakes are midsummer. Rattlesnakes are real.

(Faded Midget Rattlesnake, one the of the more venemous ones.)

I spent all night dreaming of being on a grassy field with snakes of all sizes coming into view everywhere I tried to walk. Some under a foot, some over ten feet. Som slithering towards me at impossible to escape from speeds.

(B)ro’s Gold

COLOR: Rose. Reddish hue. Rose gold. Pink. Pinkish. Potentially effeminate if I’m insecure. Rose Gold.

A POWERFUL LITTLE MACHINE

This is my first post on an iPhone. It’s the best size for weight and battery life but technically it’s a tad small. That extra tad makes it too small to ever fully replace a tablet. It cost less to have an iPad mini and iPhone SE, than a larger phablet. Two devices increases reliability and battery storage.

As it’s a phone, I already find myself talking at it. It is infinitely easier to just talk to it and then go back and clean up the hilarious misinterprative carnage. A powerful little machine capable of doing so much in just 3.99 ounces.

I bought this used to help justify the purchase. Prices have come down so low, was willing to pay for someone’s used iPhone. Not refurbished. Not ‘Grade B’. Just someone’s old phone that they no longer want because they’re upgrading to a 7. One that Hausa history of working. This phone was only released less than a year ago. At these prices it seems worth taking the risk.

The seller didn’t wrap the phone for shipping. Not deliberately, they thought it was secure inside a paper mailer, with screen facing out. The screen only developed a small crack that has a subsurface crack continueing towards the edge. I felt like I paid them a lot more for their used iPhone in order for it to be taken care of.

The glass was pressed up against a piece of card stock inside a shredded paper mailed that was burst open and only secured with post office rubber bands. I sent him/her pictures of the shipping damage. They refunded me the amount it would cost to repair the screen. This seems like a good deal for me. More damage, lower price. More reason not to use a case or buy insurance.

By not purchasing this phone last year, and buying used from a private seller, I save over $425.00. Enough to purchase plenty of cuben fiber, pertex and high fillpower down. This phone only needs to last a year to have been worth what I’m going to do with it. Prices will keep dropping, in September comes the 8, and in a year this phone will look clunky and very dated and technologically limited in its relativity, but a good baseline in case I need to replace it within the next few years.

This is the lightest phone, and lowest power consumption, which will matter tremendously midwinter. It is also the lowest model phone to have the upgraded camera. A big deal as I really need it to be my camera.

 

Final Gear Thoughts

FINAL GEAR THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS

Ultimately, I like to point out that I am good enough to go with what I have. I can improve a few things, but I’m technically good enough to hike with what I already own.

I’ve been spending a lot of time attempting to replace certain pieces of gear. Part of this hike is in its simplicity of preparation. I don’t want to spend weeks learning and trying out new gear. I just want to go hike the trail. More time spent on it then preparing for it.

Longest case scenario the trail will take 6 weeks. I don’t want to spend that much time on coping with whether I have the perfect gear or if something could easily be improved upon.  I feel like I’ve put forth enough time and effort in this regard.

In hiking and preparing for this trail, I’m trying to make use of what I have, be on a low budget, use things that are multi functional. I’m not necessarily looking for the best or perfect gear insomuch as reliability and function. I’m trying to make use of what I own, and what is simple and easy to obtain. I’d rather spend this time being productive elsewhere or out on anothet long distance hike.

I’ve also been reviewing the water list on the AZT website, which suggests potential 50 mile distances if I get really unlucky. On the Hayduke, having cached it, it was rare to go in excess of 30 miles without water. Miles on the Hayduke are slower; far more technical and dependent on time-consuming and accurate navigation. AZT miles follow a track, and lowering my weight is critical. Carrying an extra 2-3 lbs is the same weight as having an extra liter and a half. Shaving weight is kind of a really big deal.

Last minute weights of certain pieces of gear stand out as being particularly heavy:

RAIN JACKET

No matter how much tags and straps I try to remove, this jacket will weigh over 12 ounces. This is a massive weight for rain gear in the desert during the summer prior to monsoon season.

I don’t need a rain jacket, let alone justifying one made of durable Paclite. This can easily be replaced with emergency rain gear. Originally, I was willing to replace a tarp with an insulated bivy. But this comes with the weight cost of carrying a Paclite jacket.

Of more significance is how rain gear, rain shelter, and insulation interact with each other. There comes a point where a cuben tarp, even if it never rains, becomes a better choice. The tarp can be effective as emergency rain cover, it provides significant comfort during high elevation rain, but is essentially dead weight, which is why the blizzard Survival bivy was a perfect replacement. The only problem is rain gear.

Rain at elevation while being heat trained risks hypothermia I’m finding it very difficult to choose to carry this Paclite jacket over a cuben tarp. The less I carry the less I’ll need a real jacket.

Therefore I think I’m better off choosing the cuben tarp, even if it means predominantly using it as a blanket in lieu of a heat sheet. As experienced on the Hayduke, cuben fiber sheeting is significantly warmer than a heatsheet At higher elevation in the rain, it also works as intended as a reliable shelter. This means I can be okay with a smaller insulated bivy as the tarp now provides this weatherproof function. Additional insulation at elevation comes from polycro sheeting (the groundsheet). I’m willing to sacrifice using a heavy duty double ply groundsheet and use this as additional insulation, it’s something I’m carrying anyways.

There are other benefits to carrying a tarp. Just saving a few ounces isn’t enough of a reason not to use tarp over bivy. That being the line of hardcore minimalism, for I can save several ounces here, but at significant cost of function and comfort. Having the option to type at night with less attracting insects, diffusing some of the light, not having to worry about submerging electronics. Ability to comfortably wait out a flash storm….

Therefore no rain jacket.

INSULATION

If I carry the tarp, I can reduce insulation weight. The ghost whisperer weighs 7 ounces but is inadequate alone, which is unfortunate. If only it had 2 more ounces of down, plus a hood.

Tired of searching for the perfect down gear/weight, it seems simpler to use this over finding a jacket with 4-6 ounces more of down, or even the hooded version. It’s just a matter of not owning a wardrobe of down jackets and quilts to be able to pick and choose from.

Insulation for 55 degrees isn’t the problem. The problem is being acclimated to the heat, which makes it feel much colder.

I think I need roughly 8 ounces worth of high loft down for insulation, in as light a shell as it would fit.

My main concern is carrying that extra shirt, jacket, sheet, etc for insulation, for that winds up being the same weight or more as a 12 ounce quilt. For it seems necessary to carry about that much weight for insulation.

As I already own the Ghost Whisperer, it seems simpler to build insulation around it. The blizzard Survival bag is only going to work with better rain gear, which has me now leaning towards no real rain jacket. Given enough time, I’d eventually find a midrange ultralight gown jacket, but it’s not where I’m at right now.

The lightest sleeping bag is the Sea 2 Summit Spark I with 6 ounces down in a 6 ounce shell. Aside from the price and high specificity of use, the Spark II weighs 4 ounces more but the shell is listed as the same weight: meaning for just the weight of more down is significantly better insulation.

Worth noting is how after being acclimated how cold it feels once the sun sets and temperatures start dropping. Which is why it is preferable to have some insulation in wearable clothing. Which is why using a lightweight down jacket is likely preferable to a sleeping bag.

 

Cuben tarp is under 8 ounces even with full cordage.

Innernet, by comparison is 10 ounces.

Paclite rain jacket over 12.5 ounces

Blizzard Survival bag around 12 ounces

Trimmed Blizzard Survival quilt much less

Ghost Whisperer 7 ounces

 

PANTS

Prana Zion is heavyweight, weighing 14 ounces, which is extremely heavy. The convertible version is 3-4 ounces heavier still, weighing well over 1 lb.

By comparison, lighter weight trekking pants tend to be 10-11 ounces. Ordinarily, I’d rather carry an extra 3 ounces for durability and insulation, but am willing to try and purchase something last minute if I can easily shave a quarter lb of weight.

Pants are heavier than shirts, they require more material and durability. Generally cotton on pants will have durability issues around the crotch, and potential chafing issues. Cotton is less critical, and cotton pants tend to weigh even more.

The ideal pant would weigh 10 ounces, be bleach white, be slightly baggier, but ultimately the only reason to attempt to find something else is to shave 4 ounces. I’m not sure what I should do at this point. The Zion pants are ideal for the Hayduke but a waste of weight for the AZT. At least with the extra durability I don’t have to worry about shredding pants and having clothing problems. The extra weight also makes it significantly more resistant to uv damage and impromptu sitting directly on the earth. These pants weigh even more than a Paclite rain jacket. Their weight feels obscene. Ultimately, they’re good enough to be useable.

The Zion pants offer significant insulation. This is slightly disadvantageous midsun, but helpful at night. The non-convertible version weighs 4 ounces less than the convertible version, and is a slimmer and more athletic fit. Wearing these pants they feel useable and wearable just sitting on jagged slickrock or sand. They feel like a second skin.

The ideal pant might be Railriders Eco Mesh, or even the more delicate Bone Head. For the Hayduke, reinforced knee and seat is better, so probably the Adventurer or Bushwhack. I can’t afford $100 for a one time use garment.

Railriders makes good safari style sun shirts, but I think cotton is better suited for core. Cooler clothing for core is more critical. Cotton can be saturated with alkaline and non-potable water as well as retain more water as well as be saturated with heated water. Though their shirt is used at badwater, this is in conjunction with a crew and unlimited water to saturate the quick drying nylon. The nano-T cotton shirt weighs less and cost 10x less and was durable enough to survive the Hayduke bushwhacks.

Cotton sleep pants only weigh 7 ounces. Perhaps this is the best option.

BACKPACK

I know I can shave a lb off my backpack by switching to cuben fiber and lighter frame. But this isn’t comparing apples with apples. My pack is extremely abrasion resistant, thick enough to be uv resistant and can haul indefinite weight. I find it very hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a high wear item. It feels outside my budget. The iPhone was a much better upgrade.

SHIRT

Surprisingly the long sleeve cotton nano-T only weighs 5.5 to 6 ounces size medium.

By comparison, a worn Nike pro long sleeve is around 6.5, size small

A short sleeve heavyweight cotton is 6.5, size small.

A used and heavily stained, washed and dried nano T weighs an ounce more. In fact used clothing, even washed, seem to weigh significantly more than when new.

I’m questioning the benefits of carrying the extra poly shirt. More justification if I don’t carry the Paclite rain jacket. I may be better off carrying a Sugoi lightweight silnylon windshirt which will be more effective at warmth gor its weight, but unwearable as a standalone shirt. The weight of the shirt is only 6 ounces, but if I’m carrying it as insulation, I’ll be better off just carrying a down quilt.

 

This doesn’t feel like hardcore minimalism, I’m just trying to choose the best gear for comfort and reliability. Hardcore minimalism would be slashing out several pounds of gear and willing to plan to occasionally suffer for sake of removing all possible excess weight.

SHOES

I’m totally okay buying new used shoes for 1/5th retail. I’ve even discovered that women’s shoe size 11.5 is the same exact as the men’s shoe. I’d rather start this trail with a brand new pair and wear it for 800 miles, but realistically it might just be best to carry a sevond pair from the start to be able to postpone some wear off the main shoes. I would rather save $100 for a specialized down sleeping bag. Especially when my miles are slower and extra weight might have less impact. Given the choice I’d rather just have a perfect brand new pair, but it’s not a big enough deal to pay 5x the price. I also don’t want to bother mailing a Dropbox midway, though perhaps this would be the best strategy.

IPHONE

I put a lot of effort in trying to figure if and which iPhone to buy. The 6s or SE have extremely good cameras, good enough to replace a standalone one. And significant improvement from the very low quality iPad II.

The monthly device fee of having both a mini jetpack and a phone line will eventually cost more than any iPhone would ever cost. It cost twice as much to have a jetpack and a phone, whereas an iPhone works as a mobile hotspot. This alone is reason enough to have just purchased it several years back. But I didn’t know this.

The capabilities of a smart phone are significant. It’s really hard to imagine people not willing to carry a camera/computer/hotspot/storage drive that only weighs 3.99 ounces.

Last year this phone felt too expensive to risk trying out on a rugged trail, at $650. Now it costs less than half this and mow it just COSTS MORE NOT TO USE AN IPHONE, for it also functions as a hotspot for a laptop or iPad. It weighs as much as a jetpack alone, which I carried for the entire Hayduke, yet has more function than an iPad. A good used iPhone SE can be found for as low as —, and in 2 years will cost less than this new.

 

 

Sandstorm

A proper sandstorm. Straight out of the Sahara. A hundred feet high, ripping through and pelting exposed skin like micro sideways hail.

A non stop hellish onslaught of blowing sand ripping across the desert. No escape from the never ending barrage. Intense wind seems to diffuse the heat despite pure blue sky exposure. Sun producing more glare and the horizon faintly visible; faded as if seen through a filter or mirage, perhaps seen through invisibly fine sand strewn hundreds of feet high. Sections of blue sky faded sandish in color, sandstorm clouds.

From a distance, watching it sandblast and erode away at my Jeep, back facing the onslaught in vain attempt towards its preservation.

Watching the endless waves and currents of sand erode away at slickrock and crypto. Affecting in one day what may have taken years.

The blowing sand gusts are so thick and tangible, like a destructive whiteout.

I love the portability of the iPhone. The simplicity of having internet, power, camera, and computer in 3.99 ounces.

I can just hike out anywhere and sit down in the sand or atop slick rock and meditate on the meaning of life, put my back to the weather, order gear, write.

Some Training

I find myself much stronger in the heat. The heat is still always noticeable but I had to increase stress by carrying a pack and hiking all day; and would have to do something more for it to be overwhelming. Like wearing dark clothing, or layers, or drinking sun-heated water.

Massive quantity of water necessary to drink no longer seems bizarre. Even though the heat feels cooler, I still have to drink massive amounts of water to be functional, stave off dehydration.

Posted my first iPhone pics on Instagram. A powerful little machine. I could spend all day taking Live Photos, and editing video. Makes me think about how much is enough and why I want pictures.

It felt terrible continueing hiking the hayduke after my main camera broke; I then chose to continue hiking with only an iPad camera and limited storage and electricity. I managed to write a lot every day. To thru hike a hard trail in the middle of the summer seems like a waste if I don’t take pictures or write something about it. I’d like for there to be some detail, if only for my own memory. Don’t really know why other than I feel inclined to and that I want to stay consistent to it. And that I’d like to have all the musings and random thoughts out of me before starting out, to be able to focus on forward progress over writing.

Witnessed somebody chopping down a 200 year old juniper, likely for firewood, for tonight. Over 200 years in the making.

A 3 hour hike with dromedary bag and backpack in the midday sun. I’m worried about my fitness, and long desert waterless carries. I feel like I need to be in functional shape from the get go. I’m not in any shape. I’ve lost all my fitness over the winter.

My training, if you can call it that, is more focused around adapting to the sand that bonds in my socks, this was by far more difficult to adapt to than the heat or the miles. The sand that bonds to the socks is like endless rope burn. Not even so much as being blister inducing just raw gnawing away at the flesh. I am heat training, and only some fitness and hiking if I feel so inclined, mainly out of worry of being unable to do 20+ miles from the start. I’m more concerned about feeling ready and wanting to push hard. I don’t want to be burnt out or less motivated by training in a way that I don’t want to be doing. I don’t think it’s realistic to train for a 4-6 week thru hike; the hike itself is training.

On the other side is a group of girls. Singing songs, acoustic guitar, something about a band recording. A sun kissed girl, dirty blonde, black sports bra and black spandex cropped booty shorts and nothing else, barefoot in the sand dancing beneath a juniper frolicking in the hot desert wind. Her tan dance visible from afar her black clothing contrasting against the sand.

I’m sitting in the sand, cross legged Indian style until my butt goesnumb. I’ve terminated my jetpack, and am now dependent on iphone for interwebs and last minute gear. Setting blinding sun and dancing women at my back. Legs now outstretched in the hot sand. Wondering if I have adequate gear to attempt this hike or if should be attempting to obtain more and better.

Rattlesnakes

RATTLESNAKES

I’m drunk. It’s nighttime and I’m pacing around in the semi-moon darkness. Thinking about the AZT and the Hayduke. I’m lying atop the warm slickrock, in my thin short shorts, sockless. Bottle of port set atop the comfortable slickrock by my side. Thinking about why people bother to use sleeping pads, bother to carry them for hundreds of miles. It’s still hot out. I feel like I can just go to sleep. Ignore any fear of scorpion, rattlesnake, fire ant. I’m on slickrock, there’s less life.

Now, I’m pacing around thinking about writing, I’m drunk, it’s hot. In the darkness before me an invisible rattlesnakes rattles, its distinct toxic sound warning me not to proceed, not to descend upon it. It sounds middle-sized, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

I think about the statistics of drunk males getting bit by rattlesnakes. I can’t see it, but the threat is real, it’s rattling right there. So I turn back. Rattlesnakes are fucking real, independent of how I feel about them.

LUCKY

Ok, so rattlesnakes are a thing. They’re not seldom seen or rare by any means. It’s like playing Russian roulette… is today the day? Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?