Our first (and hopefully our last) hike-in and out
We got a break between treatments. Although not over, the worst of the chemo is done and there was to be three weeks before radiation started. Feeling good, we were ready to hit the trail. The plan was to start at Tehachapi Willow Springs and hike three days, 40-miles to Lancaster, Hiker Town. We started this mini vacation visiting our son in Chico. We planned to be picked up by Brian, my brother.
I hate it when I wake up early and it ends up being for nothing. I never was a morning person. Ever. But we wanted to get to the trail as soon as we could, put in between six and eight miles Saturday. I have no idea what was going on, but the 99 Highway we took suddenly closed about ten miles north of where we needed to pick up the Highway 58. We crawled for 90 minutes before we saw we would be forced off the road. Instead of reaching the trail head at 2:30, we got there at 4 pm. OK, I thought. We can still get in six miles at least.
There’s a small parking lot by the trail head. I was excited to see my first register! It’s just a notebook and a pen inside a metal box. But it was cool to see some familiar trail names in the book just before our entry. I was excited to be there.
We had a gentle incline and a gentle wind at first. It wasn’t long before we ran into a small herd of wild horses. Guess that explains all the horse crap we stepped over. It wasn’t long either before we started the mountain incline. Most of the landscape was stark desert, with a few Joshua trees.
I had no idea the winds would be so friggin’ relentless. Of course, a clue should have been that there are wind farms every where. But this wind was ridiculous! It literally blew me off the trail a few times. By the end, I was unaware that Lynn was literally holding me up. At times sand was thrown into our faces. At night the wind even blew my sports cap off. NO ONE but me has seen my bald head. I was panicked as I raced to catch the hat.
According to Weather Underground, the wind was 14-23 mph with gusts up to 32 mph. I swear it was more than that. But the average for March is 10 mph with some days at 0 mph. Why couldn’t that have been Saturday!
I was having trouble breathing as we climbed up and up and up. I usually do have a little trouble at first adjusting to the altitude. But this, like the wind, was constant. I was walking agonizing slow up the mountain. I was so frustrated. A week later, after getting my labs done before my Herceptin chemo treatment, I learned my blood count dropped a whole point and I was slightly anemic. No wonder I couldn’t breathe!
As the sun was setting and we were physically done walking any further, we tried to hunker down. All we could find was a small, very small bush to hide behind. It was futile putting up the tent. We initially tried just having the tent cover over us cuddled up with a shared sleeping bag. My fingers were so freezing I couldn’t move to help set us up. I don’t know why it took so long for us to figure out that we could just sleep inside the collapsed tent.
The tent was down, all of our stuff inside. We used the tent cover inside the tent to cover us as well to protect us from the wind. Just as I was settling in to sleep, we discovered two of our water bladders broke.
In between readjusting myself over rocks I was sleeping on, I did manage to get some sleep and felt somewhat renewed. But Lynn did not sleep at all. The wind never gave up. The next morning we were faced with a decision. Go on, which meant another 8 miles until we started hitting the other side of the mountain, 12 miles before we hit water, and not sure if we were getting more of the same. OR go back to the car.
The good news is I am ready to hike again. The bad news is just not this section yet.
I’ve updated my Hiking Cancer journal. You can read more here.