Today was a tough day! After starting late, we only got to the border at 1pm and still needed to get in 14 miles before the next water source! I set my watch (a suunto ambit) to record how far i was walking as well as how fast etc so that I could begin to understand and get a grasp of how long a mile was. Believe me, they’re a lot longer than a kilometre! 14 miles is roughly 22km! We had to walk 22km before the sunset at 8pm. That gave us 7 hours. Normally that would be doable but it was our first day on trail, our packs were extra heavy with all the food and it was never below 30°C! It was so so hot! For my South African readers, picture the Karoo in summer. Then picture walking 22km through that!
All full of energy before i began
Around mile 5 I started to think of Cheryl Strayed and her first nights campsite being at 5 miles. I begin to understand why she did it! But water was still far away so after a brief pause under perhaps the only tree literally for miles I shouldered by pack again and faced the heat. By this time it was around 3pm and only getting hotter! I actually had to peel my dried sweaty hair off my forehead every time I stopped!
A CDT route marker
My next long break was at 8 miles where I had to convince myself that I actually could do this and remind myself that I was doing it for my enjoyment. That helped for another couple of miles when I hit 10 miles. Well obviously 10 miles is another landmark and hence deserved a break. I watched as my average speed moved from 2.7 miles/hours to 2.5 down to 2.2 as eventually hit 2 miles/hour. The heat took it out of me. This did not stop me from appreciating the beauty of the desert however.
Around this time High Country and I started walking together, consoling each other in our pain. On an aside, most people have trail names that suit then somehow. High Country got his name because he likes staying up high when hiking. (He’s a retired guy who’s hiked the AT, PCT and half the CDT). Anyway we were hiking our together and trying out hardest to make it to the water before dark. My suunto watch also tells me when the sun is going to set so we had a pretty good idea. We ended up having to do 2 miles in 40 minutes in order to make it. It felt like the longest 2 miles I could imagine! However we made it with about 10 minutes to spare, to get our tents up, stoves out and food going. I had instant rice with refried beans and this lime spice stuff i got at whole foods for way to much. It was the best meal I’ve had in ages! I’m happy in my sleeping bag and ready for a good night’s sleep so I can face tomorrow!
14 miles, done and dusted!