April 25, 2014
5 miles, Mile 15.1 – 20.1
I got out of my tent at 6 am, packed up and started up the side of the canyon that Hauser creek is in. The way is steep and in full sun it is brutal. Billy Goat and his friends on the trolly warned me about it. In the morning before the sun reaches that side of the canyon the hike was pleasant. A lot of birds were out and I only saw a couple other hikers. I did notice an area disturbed about four miles in. I would find out later that a 19 year old aspiring thru-hiker had died there the previous day. He had shown up at the creek and bragged that had only drank one liter of water and then made the climb out in the full afternoon sun, at the top he started to get the signs of heat exhaustion and called his father who then called search and rescue, they were too late. In around the same area that day I saw two dead baby gophers.
The hike down from the top to lake Morena was great, I could hear the low rumble of the 1,000+ people below as I walked down, click – clacking my poles as I went.
I was still sore from the day before and as I came into the ADZPCTKO a motherly looking woman said, I was the first in for the day and said “you need a hug” which I thought about and said, “you know, you are right” so I got a hug on my way in and went to get registered.
After getting registered and picking up my hiker flag I made my to my camping spot and set up. I then set up to make more coffee and some lunch when I see Adrien walking in, it turns out my hiking partners, so far, stopped in Hauser creek before me and chose to cowboy camp (not setting up a tent) a little further back where it was flatter and I had not seen them. I ended up ahead of them.
Then we all caught up, went to the desert hiking panel and got lunch at the little store down the street, then got in late to the water report, which for us is critical as there are sections right now without water for 35 miles. That is kind of scary given my experience on day one.
There is a large assortment of the top ultralight vendors at kickoff and I got to examine firsthand all kinds of packs and gear. I decided I wanted good sleep so I picked up an ultralight inflatable pad that has its own little inflator squeeze thing, the salesman was hyper and jumping up and down on the pads to show how they are tough. It is 10.5 ounces and feels better than the pad I was using, we will see.
The kickoff feeds thru-hikers and on Friday night it was burritos, I found that adding seasoning salt to a burrito makes it awesome. There are rumors of rain for the evening, this is welcome considering the water report.
As evening settled I left the large group of hikers I was hanging with and went to my tent to sleep on my new awesome pad. The tent neighbors were still up sipping beers and talking but that was okay I was going to get sleep, I knew the rain would start and they would quiet, it did. At first it was little pings of rain, bouncing off my tent, then more, and then the wind started. I noticed my tent seemed not as taut as it should be, but my stakes were holding so I tried to sleep, but then my stakes flew up and one crazy night began, I saw many other lights come on all over the campground.