Tuesday, May 23
Start: secret hot spring
Stop: Grass Valley Creek
The constant chatter of the creek is like a vice slowly squeezing my head. I can’t wait to find some peace and quiet. The climb out is steep so when I rejoin the trail at 620am I’m sweating bullets. And although the trail weaves into gullies, most of it is already in the sun. I quietly pass the official Deep Creek Hotspring where a few hikers are soaking in the hot pools. I cross the rainbow bridge, listen to a ground squirrel sound a loud warning, watch two lizards having sex and try to ignore the heat as I push into the Mojave Forks Dam.
There is deep, cool shade in the spillway and I sit down for some breakfast and relaxation. The spillway also is a perfect echo chamber. As Lil’ Buddha jumps in some water at the base of the spillway at least a tenth of a mile away, I can hear it perfectly. My break is two hours and I then I reluctably head back out into the sun.
Starting yesterday afternoon, I haven’t been feeling well. Slightly nauseous and not hungry. Add in my cold symptpmes and lack of sleep and you’ve got one unhappy camper. Still feeling ill, I drag myself across Deep Creek one last time, nearly falling on a precarious multi- branch cross. And then there is the sign. Trail angel Coppertone is just ahead. He’s notorious for his root beer floats but all I can think about is cold water or some other flavored beverage. ANYTHING besides hot water on my unhappy throat. He offers up chairs to sit in, donuts, apples, bananas, tea and ice cream floats. The strawberry/vanilla ice cream plus warm cream soda doesn’t help my nausea. A few hours later I eat an apple. There is no water available so even though we should be hiking on, Lil’ Buddha and I are unable to leave the shade. We even consider a hotel in nearby Hesperia.
After 5pm we push out. There is suppose to be water in just over a mile. Lil’ Buddha is desperate and collects water from the first seep he finds. In a nauseos stupor I push on, sometimes stopped by a wind gust and sometimes stopped by the urge to vomit. In a near panic I finally reach the water. The water is cool and I fill a liter and add electrolyte. I suck it down and immediately start to feel better. Lil’ Buddha comes by and says he was able to collect cold water and he’s feeling better too. I eat some chips and start in on my second liter of cold electrolyte water and then IT strikes. I take a massive dump and suddenly I’m a new person, ready to hike for miles and miles and miles.
I find Lil’ Buddha a couple miles ahead at Grass Valley Creek with his tent already set up. During dinner we talk through the options for tomorrow. It’s 24 trail miles to Cajon Junction but maybe it will be cooler and maybe we can make it?