Mile reached: 588.2 (+21.8 + 1.4 bonus)
High: Hiking into the evening and watching the sun set over the mountains to the west
Low: The trail is not in the mountains to the west.
A hypothesis: Thus far, I haven’t had a single rattlesnake rattle at me that wasn’t antagonized by someone else just minutes prior. But, people have seen me walk right past rattlesnakes. I’m also told that I’m super quiet e.g. the frequent startling of hikers. I suspect that maybe I walk softly enough that I’m not bothering the snakes?
I didn’t need to check out until noon, so I contentedly slept in until 7 followed by an all you can eat hotel breakfast. There was a lot of hiker trash at the hotel, so items were constantly getting cleaned out. Even the nuts meant to be used as toppings weren’t safe from being eaten as a side. But, I still managed to gorge myself.
Without luck I tried to hitch a ride to the sporting good store to get fuel. So, I ended up walking both ways. I did also buy some insoles to hopefully breathe new life into my shoes. After a quick resupply, I caught the noon bus to Lancaster that conveniently dropped me off at the trailhead and began Section F.
Section F is notorious for being the hottest and dryest section of the trail. Thru-hikers also conveniently hit it late in the spring due to trying to avoid Sierra snow. There are only a handful of water sources and some of them will dry up potentially resulting in 40 mile water carries through 90 degree heat. There are two water caches to provide relief in the driest miles, but they are no longer maintained. There are simply too many hikers making it overly onerous to ferry that much water out into the remote desert. The one exciting thing is technically Section F is in the Sierra Nevada, though it’s so dry that it’s still considered to be part of the desert.
The trail started off by losing a little elevation and providing views of the town of Mojave only a couple hundred feet below. The sun was oppressive, and there was no shade except for the odd Joshua Tree. Then, the trail switchbacked up 1,600 feet. It was a lot of work, but anything was better than staying in the Mojave. From the ridges I could see beautiful pine covered peaks to the west, while all we had were some junipers and gangly pinyons.
There were relatively few people on trail, which makes sense since it would be preferable to start in the evening. Though, I did play leapfrog with a woman named Marissa, who was super fast (maybe faster than Joe). It would take me a while to catch her, and it seemed like she was always on my trail.
In the early evening, I made it to Golden Oak Spring, the only water source for the next 20 miles. Amusingly, there was a couple that set up their tent no less than 10 feet away from the spring. I dropped all my gear and made couscous for dinner. They thought I was going to camp there, so they repeatedly tried to drop hints indicating that I should move. Eventually, I told them I would be continuing on, thus ending their little act. But seriously, you can’t camp right next to the only water source and expect it to be private.
In twilight, I did another 5 miles and found a nice flat campsite on a ridge. It just happened to be opposing a couple dozen wind turbines. So, I was lulled to sleep by their discordant whirling.