The highs and lows of thru hiking. And gecko wrestling.
First order of business was to finish taking care of a blister on the inside of my big left toe. I had drained it last night and wrapped some breathable clean gauze around it. This morning it was flat and looked chilled. So a simple band-aid will hopefully remove the friction it didn’t like and let it heal.
My phone had lost 25% of its power overnight despite being in airplane and low power mode. That’s caused by the low temperature but if I put it in my sleeping overnight along with my water filter then I won’t hear the alarm!
My right foot was hurting badly from the get-go which made progress all day slower than it could have been. It didn’t help that the stony path was reminiscent of the notorious Pennsylvania section of the AT. Nonetheless I got to walk round the top of a scenic valley.
Some of the trail today was right along the edge of a steep drop off, requiring a bit of concentration rather than looking at the view. However, this proud yucca plant laughs in the face of danger and puts ice cubes down the vest of fear.
I stopped for a siesta a little before noon in a small rock outcropping, having first checked my compass to be sure that the shadows there now would only increase as the sun moved westward.
About a dozen hikers would troop past over the next hour, several complimenting my good spot; after that it was quiet except when a hummingbird buzzed up to within 6’ of me to see what was happening.
This is now a 25 mile dry section with the only water source within a mile of the trail being a not guaranteed one. I read a report 5 days ago that it was still running so crossed my fingers and set off at 2:30pm to eventually find it running just fine. From here it is 18 miles to a road crossing that usually, but not always, has a water cache maintained by a trail angel. If it’s empty then one has to hitch into town. And from there it is a 24 mile dry section.
After the water pickup at 4pm I had to make another 6 miles to get down below 4000’ as it was too exposed and windy up at 5000’ and it would have been told cold to spend the night comfortably. I would have preferred to have called an early day as I was limping in more and more pain. At this point, in the middle of nowhere, I was glad to have the Spot device with the Search and Rescue button.
Safely set up in camp at 3800’ I could see my foot is swollen and red along the outside. It doesn’t hurt much when prone but touch it or walk on it or turn it to the outside and that soon changes. It also wouldn’t ever go away when I was walking which most minor niggles do. It hurt a lot with every step and got worse as the day went on. Maybe it was a minor sprain but hiking on it for 32 miles probably wouldn’t have helped. Unless it improves tomorrow morning I’ll have to make an unplanned town stop in Julian in 12 miles and try to get it looked at. What a turnaround from a magical first couple of days, things now seem quite bleak.