Day 30: Stay Away From Te Aqua

Mile reached: 651.3 (+33.4 + 2.4 bonus)

High: Having a friend semi-spontaneously show up at the end of a long day with beer and a burrito.

Low: Discovering in the morning that a water bladder I had leaked through an insecure cap.

I woke up a little before sunrise, but opted to sleep in a bit longer. Ironically, it wasn’t windy until after the sun came up, so instead of it being easy to cook I had to battle the wind. As I packed up camp, I noticed one of my water bladders had almost completely drained. I had been using it as an anchor to keep my hat from blessing away in the night. Apparently, the cap wasn’t completely secured! So, I now only had 1.5 L of water, while I had intended to have about twice that.

There was one spring a few miles ahead, but it was quite a ways off trail and required losing and gaining significant elevation. The next natural water source would be a seep 17 miles after that. I really didn’t want to add to what was already going to be a long day, so I decided to continue on. Besides it was also cool and windy out, and I might get lucky and find water in a cache 10 miles up trail.

The early morning climb

The trail aggressively gained the ridge from which there were impressive views down to the Mojave Desert floor below. The wind was also intense, possibly stronger than what I encountered near Mt. Laguna. There was no shelter, and the battle with the wind went on for miles. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t sweating.

The ridge was sandy and windy with nowhere to hide.

Eventually, I reached Bird Springs Pass, which has a trailhead and a water cache. Luckily, it had just been replenished. So, I topped up on water and was now back on track.

Bird Springs Pass and the water cache under a Joshua Tree

From the pass the trail climbs and then traverses the Scodie Mountains, which were unexpectedly beautiful. The mountains in the morning were entirely covered with desert scrub. However, the Scodies get enough water to support a dense Pinyon forest as well as the occasional stand of Jefferies. In the far northern parts of the range there is also some kind of scrub oak. Anyway, I greatly enjoyed traversing the range, which is quite remote. Though, this was somewhat marred by a number of ATVs out over Memorial Day Weekend.

Finally, some trees again. At least Pinyon block some of the wind.

Now, a friend, Matt, likes to take long rides on his motorbike and had said he was going to intercept me at some point. Well, I got a message via satellite from him in the morning that he was coming, and we eventually decided to meet up at Walker Pass, which marks the end of the Scodies.

I was almost through the range and could start to see down into the pass. However, I had one thing to do first. The highpoint of the range has over 2,000 feet of prominence and was only a mile or so away cross country. How could I resist? It was a lot more effort to get there than I was expecting. The Pinyons were ok, but the oaks created a labyrinth of tunnels. The airy summit block was so windy I could barely stand on it!

View towards the summit and the bushwhack that awaited

Summit achieved, I raced back down and found a faint use trail that spared me from some of the worst routefinding. By 7:30 I made it into the campground and saw Matt tending to his palatial tent. It was good to see him, and he so thoughtfully brought me a number of goodies such as beer, root beer, a burrito, cheese, etc. He even had different insoles for me to try. (Though, I had learned previously that insoles weren’t the problem on my shoes. I think the core in the sole is simply shot.) After enjoying food and his company, I was solidly out just a bit after hiker midnight.

Matt and his palatial tent

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