Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Day 39: Napping

Mile 604.4 -> Mile 630.8

Since I camped alone(ish) last night, I didn’t hear the familiar rustling of groundsheets and the deflation of sleeping pads. I got a late-ish start, but the rest of the group caught up with me on trail. “So, about your birthday” someone said. Apparently the plan was to go into Ridgecrest a day early and spend the night in a cheap motel (our signature activity at this point). As muy as I like to shower and be clean, I’m a bit over the interrupted pace of goiy into town overnight about 1-2 times a week.

But today made me reconsider. Today was in the high 90s with a lot of uninterrupted sun. Where we were meandering through rolling hills yesterday, today we had more significant elevation gain in a traditionally desert environment. After 7 miles or so, we came across the last water for 33ish miles. Luckily Guthook and a handwritten sign let us know about a couple life saving water caches at Kelso Rd. and Bird Spring Pass.

We filled up water and continued the 20 miles of our day to Bird Spring Pass, where we would end up camping. In the middle of this section is a Dove Spring Canyon Rd., a micro-oasis wott a picnic table, small amounts of cell reception, and a Joshua tree with enough shade for 5 people to avoid the sweltering sun. I showed up just before Toucan, but felt the pressing need to lay down. I was rationing water to get to Bird Spring Pass, about 9 miles away. My shirt, where it wasn’t soaking wet from sweat, was caked in lines of salt. I just felt gross all around. Toucan and I agreed to hike to the next potential shade spot in hope of more shade. It was 1.6 miles away, but it was the heat of the day.

It paid off. We had a large, flat spot almost completely shaded by Joshua trees. We drank up water, laid out our pads, and lightly dozed off in our small paradise. An hour or so later we were up and headed to our camping spot, a whole 8 miles away.

I wanted to push past Bird Spring, but it was a 3.5 mile slog all uphill. Toucan and I made plans to get up early and hike it before the heat has a chance to show itself. In the meantime, we drank our fill from the water cache. I was completely out of water, so the cache of 100+ gallons was amazing.

“What day is the full moon?” someone asked. I was the only one with service, so I Googled it. The Strawberry Full Moon was… tonight. I fell asleep before getting to see it, but someone woke me up to get a peek. It was gorgeous. I didn’t know what a strawberry moon would look like, but this piercing pink shaded moon that penetrated the darkening blue sky… it sure looked like a strawberry moon to me. I didn’t get a photo, but it wouldn’t have done it justice anyway.

But here’s a look at our sunset.

Main Photo: The rolling hills nearing the end of the desert. June 17.