Mile 346 to 376. 30 miles.
Woke up around 5:50 and heard two guys getting on the trail around then. Didn’t see them though. Cross the Roosevelt bridge and then head up steeply into some nice wavy ridges. I run into a guy named Pat who’s backpacking to Flagstaff, he’s a nice guy who is dressed like a person in the 1930s.
About an hour later I run into two more thru hikers. Older guys named Big Sky and I can’t remember the other guys name because I was rattled about what the told me. They had left from the Roosevelt Lake Marina this morning too so they were probably the guys I heard in the morning and as we lamented about our packs being heavy from our resupplies from there they mentioned yea 6 liters of water is heavy. “Why are you carrying so much? There’s a creek in like 7 miles from here.” I said. “You haven’t heard? There’s zero water from Roosevelt Lake to Pigeon Spring, 22.5 miles away. We called all the trail stewards and they said it’s all dry.” No way… I didn’t believe them. Every water source listed on the trail so far has been good, more than good. Why all the sudden everything is dry? I’m screwed. I have 2 and a half liters too get me almost 20 miles, up another steep 2000 foot climb in 85 degree weather. I was also already up a few thousand feet from the lake and 7 miles away from the last water. There is no way I’m going back. They agreed that sounded awful. I think I could make the water last, but I’d be miserable all day. My anxiety sets in bad. I say bye to them as I want to cover as many miles as I can when its still cooler. I’m almost in panic mode. The last passage was overflowing with water, even unnamed sources pouring out all over roads.
I hike about 4 or 5 miles and it’s getting very hot. Not too steep yet but I can see where the trail goes and it gets steep. I see a little trailhead sign and wonder if by some miracle there is some gallons of water there as I’ve seen them at other trailheads behind rocks or bushes. And guess what I see. One…single…half full… gallon jug of water… YES!!!!! I’m going to be just fine! I pour two liters in my empty bottles. There is about half a liter left for someone else. Thank you so much whoever put that out there. Made my day so much better.
I then hike up the very steep club towards where the first water source was supposed to be. It’s taking me a long time to get there. Very very steep and no switchbacks. And so damn hot. I finally get to where I can see a creek would be in the crevice of two hillsides. Water. Plenty of it. Flowing, in pools, cold and clear. Trail stewards freaking me out man. I take a big break here to eat lots of food, splash water all over me and cool off. Then 45 minutes after I arrived I took off.
Thar be water there.
Up more crazy steep and exposed climbs. I am really hurting right now and can’t figure out why. I’m moving so slow and I feel weak and nauseous. It takes forever to go a mile in this terrain. My stomach is very upset and I’m worried I might puke out all my food and water. Something I can’t afford to do. I think I ate way too much and didn’t let it digest long enough. And then the worst part of it all. These fucking bushes. I mentioned them in my blog maybe a week ago, they’re white flowered and you can smell them 100 feet before you see them. And they smell so awful. Like a dense nauseating perfume in the hot air and they are FUCKING everywhere. Linking the trail for miles. The smell along with my already upset stomach is really not making this steep hot climb fun. I try breathing with just my mouth so I don’t have to smell them but it doesn’t work well. I finally sit in some shade for another 20 minutes or so and try to calm myself down and settle my stomach.
The white flowering puke bushes line the trail for miles.
I get up and start walking again and slowly but surely I begin to feel better. After 6 miles or so I’m feeling much better. It’s colder up here and breezy with plenty of shade from cliffs, oaks and pines. I start really moving and catch up on my miles. There is killer views off to the side of the trail.
That’s a new and beautiful cactus!
Most of the rest of the day is in a big burn area. The only plant that seems to love this is a species of Corydalis.
For some reason there was also a lot of variegated miners lettuce in the burn zone.
I make it to Pigeon Spring around 4:20 and fill up 4 liters of water to make it to the next for sure water source in 18 miles. Once I hit the Pigeon Trailhead the trail follows a forest road, for a long time apparently. Now I really plan to make up time. I pop some ibuprofen and have a few snacks. I cruise on down the road for more than 7 miles. As it’s almost dark now I set up my camp in a nice flat area near the road and eat. 30 miles, never thought I’d get this far today. Might be able to buy myself a nearo into Pine on Friday.