Day 4 - sunrise TRAILHEAD JUNCTION TO SAN FELIPE HILLS
March 31 | Miles 59.5 - 83.1
Today, I got a trail name.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As I woke up this morning around 5:30 and stepped out of my tent, there before me was a glorious sunrise painted over the mountains. I watched as a bright white sun rose from the east and colored the desert brush orange.
By midmorning it hung high in the sky, illuminating the bone-dryness of the waterless landscape. 17 miles stood between me and the next water source. Rationing my four liters as I passed cactuses and succulents, I fantasized about hacking into the spiny plants and drinking the moisture from their leaves.
I zigzagged across a green canyon for several hours. At one point I heard a crinkling noise from behind a bush and saw something red moving near it. I figured it must be someone eating Fritos or something, but upon closer inspection I found…
A still-inflated Mylar balloon! It must have floated away from the party. I envisioned a crying toddler somewhere losing grip and watching their shiny birthday balloon float off into the atmosphere, never to be seen again.
As for the balloon, however, this would be its second act.
I strapped it on my pack and together we began to descend down, down, up a little, then down to the desert floor.
I stopped to chat with a group a little past noon and they noticed my bling. “Is it your birthday?!?” they asked excitedly. I thought about milking it but gave them the honest truth. One guy then suggested balloons should be welded to the hands of children. I had already spilled the beans that I didn’t have a trail name yet, and just then another one piped up, exclaiming, “you’re the birthday girl!”
And that is the story of how I became Birthday Girl. Now I can’t throw away the damn balloon. Maybe it’ll get me free dessert in town?
I listened to the white noise of its crinkling all the way out to Scissors Crossing.
There I recognized many familiar faces, and among them, pickup and cooler in tow, was our old friend Magic Man! I jumped at the sight of his familiar face (and cold liquid offerings). This time I decided to be good and went with an orange Gatorade. Best move of the day.
Chatting with other hikers under the bridge, I gathered 5 liters of water from the cache, which would have to last me another 14 miles (including an overnight). At 2:30 I began the climb out of the crossing, beginning with a walk across the blazing pavement on hot-ass Highway 78.
Listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Audible helped distract my brain from the heat scorching my every inch of exposed skin. I rose 1000 feet into the hills as the sun refused to forgive. The trail was lined with vibrant desert vegetation in greens, purples, and yellows.
As I passed my 20 mile mark for the day, my calves began to seize and I could hear my feet crying. Just as I slowed to a snail’s pace, I came upon a piece of prime real estate looking out over the hills and tucked behind a stout tree. My home for the night.
As Michelle’s great aunt Robbie would say, GOOOOOD NIGHT.