We had vowed to wake up at 4 am to escape the desert heat, but after a long night of border patrol interruptions we failed in our attempts. Meeting up with Cameron and Tim we learn that they arrived a bit later than us and had been stung by the bees that Brian and I had carelessly walked past earlier in the day.
In spite of a terrible night's sleep I feel enrgized and had an amazing morning. The terrain was easy compared to the rugged trails I was used to in the Whites. I saw a fox as I walked by myself ahead of the others on the descent down to the lake. I was glad I didn't push on to the campground as it was filled with car campers and I later heard it had been a noisy night there as well. I took a cold shower with all of my clothing on to cool off and hung out with Wee Bee's lovely parents beside their vw camper van. We officially inducted them as trail angels as they generously shared food and drink. The guys were dehydrated and feeling the heat, but if anything, I was over-hydrating and felt fine. We lingered for too long socializing with other hikers and as a result hiked out in the heat of the afternoon and ended up pushing past a wonderful stream with only a brief immersion and glimpse of swallows swooping into nests below a bridge. Dawdled again at the 10 mile marker and a water spigot... hiking through some of the hottest hours of the day left us all reluctant to part with shade and start walking again. The heat is relentless and as you walk you find youself constantly looking for the next patch of shade, with even the smallest patch a relief. You lean into the shadow thrown by a shrub, bowing your head down if the shade doesn't extend far enough to cover your whole height.
Brian and I finally left the water spigot after 4 pm, leaving Tim and Cameron behind. The goal of 17 miles we had set earlier that morning now seemed highly unlikely and we paused at the last road, hesitating after 14 miles. The sun was setting in half an hour and Brian wanted to camp at the trailhead, which was just a shallow stretch of dirt pull-off on a highway. With the border patrol driving past repeatedly in the few minutes we were there I refused. It was way too exposed and after last night's experience I wanted a better night's sleep. The guidebook had mentioned good camping but after walking down the road a quarter of a mile we found only mediocre spots. With the sun setting I bullied Brian into night-hiking the final miles to a campground. I saw 4 quail and tons of animal scat today, as well as a strange break in wire fencing along the highway (illegal immigrants? drug running? who knows?). I convinced myself it was prime mountain lion territory and as we walked Brian decided to tell me a terrifying mountain lion mauling story. Thanks, Brian.
We made good time and survived the horrendous road walk at the end in relatively good spirits. Seeing campfires at the site and in hopes of avoiding noisy campers, knowing it was the weekend, we stop short of the actual campground and set up by the side of the road. Since it's dirt, I feel a bit better about the odds of avoiding vehicles for the night. A few campers walk by with glow sticks and my desire to be a recluse for the night is confirmed. As we begin to fall asleep, Brian spies two shooting stars, I see none.
I slept like the dead.