I sigh and keep walking. Just keep walking. It doesn't matter. I shovel candy into my face. I find a small patch of shade for a break, tucked up high under a big pine. I climb up and sit. There are ants everywhere and spiders, but I don't care. I try to relax, but it doesn't come to me and eventually I become restless enough to hike on.
The trail drops and drops into the growing hateful heat. My umbrella blocks only a little of suns assault. Then, I see it: bodies on the road. Blue jugs. Blue jugs of boiling hot water and the reflective sheen of other umbrellas. I am in hell and slightly OK with it.
Stranger Danger and Dragonfly are there and we fill up a little on the hot water. There's no shade at all and I sit under what my umbrella creates, so grateful for it. Soon, I see no reason to sit there any longer. I feel insane. I'm going to hike into this, I don't care.
And so I do and I don't last long. I see Twisted, under the canopy of a Joshua tree, with no more room. I keep moving until I find my own shade and eventually I do. I curl up under the tree made of spikes. So strange. I melt a bit and slip in and out of heat dreams.
Will the sun ever sink? I wonder.
Slowly, the shadows grow long. I decide, that I am going for the next water source, down a gulch, where I'll need to do a little bouldering. The source seems reliable, but the last update on my water report was over a week ago. Things could change.
I stumble off into the heat. Every now and again I have to stop to cool off and then, then I see it. The turn off into the gulch. Follow the Altras, as my friend JohnZ would say. So I do, down a narrow little canyon. The shade within is glorious and it cools me. I sort of use my umbrella as a trekking pole. Then I see it, the boulders. Well, this is different.
I shimmy and slide down on the sticky granite rock, slide down ankle deep sand and twist my way through cracks I just know there's a rattlesnake waiting to strike out at me. I come to my next boulder. You're fucking kidding me. It doesn't look easy to me, but I need water so I do it anyway. I take a wrong step and loose a water bottle and scrape my butt a little as I fall down and the pads of my hands.
I'm OK! And then, I smell something.
When I look up I see it, desert lavender. Her leaves leave an aromatic resin on my fingers. So fragrant. I caresses her and then, I must move. Twisting and turning, no idea if this will even work.
What the actual fuck are you even doing right now? You're literally in the middle of nowhere, with no water in the middle of the fucking desert. I'm having one of those moments where I'm questioning everything, for the very first time since day one. I am really questioning myself.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE?
Just get to the water. Let's get to the water first. Soon, I find it. Stranger Danger, Spice and Lucky Charms are there as I stand on the other side of a fence. I made it!
I run the water from the faucet and it's cool and perfect. We all sit and talk together and I cook myself dinner before I decide to turn up road and back to the trail. The others hike on and I leave alone, down the road in the dusky light. Happy.