Day 16: Mile 292.4 to mile 318 (25.8 miles, 41.5km)
From leaving camp the trail continued to follow the river down but it didn’t take long for the forest to disappear and the desert re-emerge.
Back into the open country with very little shade to hide from the sun, you could feel it starting to burn by 8am. It’s all good, I know what I’m dealing with now and it’s easily managed, just hot.
At about 6 miles in a real treat – pit toilets at the Splinter picnic area. No cat hole digging this morning. They also had bins so it was a chance to offload some of my trash.
Splinter’s was great. A few tables, shelter and a chance for a quick break. It’s located right on the Mojave River and if it was mid day this would be my lunch spot. But I had a better lunch spot in mind – Deep Creek Hotsprings, I just needed to get there.
The trail followed the Mojave River for miles. Built into the side of what were pretty much canyon walls it hugged the contour high above the water. You can see numerous deep waterholes, teasing as you swelter in the sun up above.
The walking was easy, it just took forever.
Finally at around midday I hit the springs for a lunch break. Now this is a weird spot. It’s a mixture of PCT hikers who just want to cool down with a dip, grab some water and catch a break; in amongst a group of naked local hippies just there to smoke some weed and party. Fair too many dangling bits for my liking. No photos sorry – looks way to dodgy to pull a camera out here.
Swimming was mandatory after a hard, hot mornings hike. Changing between the hot and cold waters was great to soothe tired legs.
I met a bunch of new hikers here and had lunch with them. They gave me an indication on my speed as most started about 10 days before me and the May 2nd crew.
From the hot springs there was another 10 mile to complete. Easier said than done in the heat. Again the trail climbed into the cliffs above the river and stayed there, no reprieve from the sun. It was hot. I used my umbrella until the wind picked up too much.
Around 5.5 mile from the springs there is a massive dam in the middle of no-where. Now either this place floods majorly (I can’t see that happening) or it’s one of the biggest mistakes in history. If you see and it’s surroundings you’ll know what I mean. But the spillway did provide such needed shade and a chance to kickback with everyone for 40 Mina or so.
As tempting as the shade was we had to keep pushing on and up and left. Amazing just after another 3/4 mile we reached a road and more trail magic offering fresh bananas, donuts and creamy soda floaters with ice cream. Of course we all had to take another break. Some times it’s like the trail is trying to prevent us from reaching Canada.
With a full stomach it was time to press on and get the last miles out the way.
The only excited thing about the last stretch was I was so in the zone to reach camp I damn near stepped on a rattle snake. Within inches! I sure as hell go a fright, jump a good couple of feet in the air but in my panic a foot slipped and it landed right near it again. So lucky it didn’t strike. It didn’t move at all. So docile, it didn’t even rattle. Gaining my composure it threw a couple of rocks as it moved on. Phew.
Anyway at camp now with the new crew and later in roles some of the other May 2nd crew who I’ve been playing leap frog with – Zack (US), Ben (UK), Omrie (Israeli) and Shaun (US).
Oh, I passed 300 today.
Nice going, Mick!
I looked up the wiki on the Mojave Forks Dam out of interest:
“Because the dam serves strictly for flood control, the reservoir is usually dry; however, it can fill quickly following heavy winter storms. Flood waters are released as quickly as possible without exceeding the capacity of downstream levees. Unlike most dams, the Mojave Dam outlet has no gates, meaning that the outflow is directly dependent on the water level behind the dam.”
Nice one Nigel! It seemed a bit out of place but makes more sense now.
Its quite amazing that this trail seems to be well catered for regards board walks. How are your gaters going with all the spiney catus? You are doing very well with regards to using your mind to make excellent decisions. They say its a mind game when it comes to long treks. All the best