Day 31 - past the 500 mile marker to the la aqueduct
April 27 | Miles 502.6 - 528
We awoke in the middle of a tiny field knowing the day ahead would be a bit toasty. I got going around 6 and sluggishly made my way through the hills as the sun peeked out from behind them.
I made the choice not to stop at any of the off-trail water sources this morning, as I still had 2 liters to get me through the 15 miles to Hiker Town. The decision would come back to bite me in the butt…
By 10AM I was around mile 512, rolling through some very exposed foothills. I could see the Mojave below, with a glittering little town and tons of green grass and bushes.
I came across a small stream with a little algae that had clear pool of water at its head. I took a big scoop with my bottle and gazed into it through the clear plastic–only to find it swimming with larvae.
There would be no water until the highway.
I scrambled through my food bag to find any remotely hydrating foods. I gobbled down a Snickers, 2 Complete Cookies, and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter.
Nothing was working. I resorted to my last hope: 3 mini half-and-half packets I’d grabbed from the breakfast place in Agua Dulce to go with my oatmeal. Beneath the shade of a bush, I took all three shots and turned to face the sun once again.
The wildflowers in this section were fragrant and stunning, but all I could think about was how jealous I was of their H2O intake.
With three miles and about an hour to go until the highway, I began to ration my supply. I had about 1/3 liter left, which meant I could take one small sip every 10 minutes. I fantasized how I would be guzzling some ice cold agua straight from the spigot when I finally arrived at the source.
The next hour passed in a daze as salt formed a crust on my face and I dizzily crept through fields of poppies.
At last, I arrived at the weird little Old-West oasis and drank my fill of the good stuff before settling into a comatose state of rehydration.
I caught a ride to the convenience store and got the iced coffee I’d been dreaming of all morning. Then we waited out the heat of the day at Hiker Town, lazing in the shade until the sun began to dip around 6. It was time to set off for the infamous LA Aqueduct, the notoriously blazing and exposed section of trail that crosses the Mojave floor. Time for a little night hikin’.
For a while we literally walked on top of the hot rusty pipe, studded all over with bolts that tortured my feet. You could hear the water flowing inside, but the ultimate irony was how completely inaccessible it was.
As the sun set we were treated to a gorgeous display in the sky. We got a pretty sweet silhouette picture out of it as well:
We hiked until 10PM. I couldn’t feel my feet and I was falling asleep with every step forward. But the reward was a killer cowboy camp spot on a concrete block alongside the aqueduct access road, completely sheltered from the wind with an unbelievably clear view of the night sky.
I had one of my best nights of sleep on trail as we dozed off to the sounds of coyotes yipping nearby.