CDT Day 72 — September 5
really straight road in The Basin to Fish Pond Spring
Flat as it Needs to Be Camp to Basin Survival Camp
Miles hiked: 30.5
Total miles: 1286
The crew all made it out of the Basin today. Barely. By the skin of our teeth, one might say. Our hottest day yet came at a bad time, for the greater part of our longest dry stretch. No shade, no water, no relief. The Basin, man. I thought it was going to be flat and easy.
When the alarm sounded, it felt as if I was being awoken from a short nap rather than a night of sleep. Dark when we went to bed, dark when we woke up. The stars had shifted, the only difference. We got walking again on the straight dirt road by headlamp, just as we had ended yesterday. What kind of cruel Purgatory is this?
We caught sunrise as we crested a local high point. It was gorgeous with glowing sage and warm colors, yet cool air. Highlight of the day for sure. We followed the rollercoaster road from there, continuing straight for a very long time.
Crunchberry caught SpiceRack and I at our second breakfast break, savoring the last of the night’s chill under our sunbrellas. “Shiny-backed Russian Boar,” he called us. More hours, more hiking, more heat, less water.
Bull Spring was as nasty as advertised. Undrinkable. Totally overtaken by cattle. Pooped in. Pissed in. Stagnant. Slimy. Fortunately we had expected this, but I had still harbored a small hope that it would be alright. Maybe if I was actually dying out here I’d drink it, but the guaranteed diarrhea wasn’t worth it with a gallon of good water still on my back. 84°F and heating up. No shade, no use hanging around. We cursed the cows and kept moving. 12 noon.
Rooster, Crunchberry, SpiceRack, and I hung a left over some hills, our first major direction change since yesterday afternoon. We lost our breeze in the folds of the earth. I lost my precious water out of every pore. My thermometer showed 94°F. The sun showed us just how relentless it can be. No shade, no stopping. I could see tiny semi trucks scrolling along the highway in the distance. Make it there. Just make it there. I was so, amazingly grateful for my umbrella. Without it, I don’t know…
A cow pond with nastier water than Bull Spring did little to help our cause. I did give a short chuckle when Spice held up the opaque yellow liquid, but still without shade, it was difficult to find much humor in our situation.
Paved road, plenty of traffic. Spice flagged down a passing convoy of pickup trucks and asked for water. They were more than happy to give us all we needed, and more. A whole case of bottles and a gallon of V8 (not the most pleasant thing to drink on a hot day, but plenty of electrolytes.). As if the sky knew that our ordeal was over, dense clouds filled in, bringing glorious relief from the baking sun.
There were more miles after that, but the day was over. My feet felt like half-cooked burger patties on the few miles up the highway, then cross-country over pointy rocks. Wild horses gave us a thrill. Lightning flashed on the horizon and rain blew over the ridge as Spice and I joined the others at Fish Pond Spring to camp, setting up in the dark. Good water, finally. Does this rain mark the end?
May it cleanse us of the dust and heat. The Basin, so much more than I expected.