I began the day by packing up before the camp host noticed that I'd come and gone. The big dead log next to my little camp had served as an excellent laundry rack for the clothes I'd washed in the shower, though the wind had kept me up readjusting them for much of the night. Most of the morning was spent dealing with my blisters, which had oozed disgusting liquid all over the lining of my sleeping bag. My left heel and both pinky toes looked like tenderized meat. I'll be surprised if I keep the toenails. I had bought blister bandages at the Laguna store, and tried them out with a hearty helping of athletic tape over the tops.
I hobbled out of the campground, down the highway, and disappeared back into mile 47. Before I could even get my straps adjusted I was overtaken by a gruff Pyrenees. He muttered hello, and I paced him at a quarter mile or so for 5 miles. When I stopped to remove my jacket and rest my toes, he got far enough ahead that I didn't have to watch him look back every mile or so to see if I was still there. Of course, he'd stopped at the next picnic area, mile 53, so I had to deal with him again. Try asking an asshole Frenchman if he saw that huge alligator lizard on the way in sometime. "What, there are no alligators here!"
He tried to tell me that I was crazy to carry so much water and that I should rely on caches. I tried to tell him that, as an American, I rely on nobody but myself. I didn't even bother eating my snack. Leaving was the best alternative to hitting him.
Almost to mile 59, there was an unnecessarily steep hill, and I saw two hikers approaching at a good clip while I panted halfway up. I pretended to be taking in the view so they could pass, but one started a conversation. "How are you?" "Surprised I can see the Salton Sea from here." "Yay, someone who knows the area!" It went from me describing working in that desert to plant identification and horned lizard catching with a fellow biologist in just a few minutes. So happy to have a compadre who shares something more than an interesting hobby with me.
We walked on to a camp in a meadow with a water trough for horses as the hoped-for water source by the light packers. I smiled and took only a couple liters of the swill, ultravilot treating it immediately. When I passed Pyrenees, I grinned, holding only 2 emergency liters of that nasty shit. Shoes off, I napped in the field of crested wheatgrass, erodium and brassica, enjoying a comfortable bed of alien species. The other biologist chatted with me for a bit, then her friend abruptly started cramping. His feet wouldn't move. I tossed them some electrolyte packets, took his fever and pulse to be sure it wasn't heat related, and then decided to take off and make a couple more miles. I ended up blissfully alone at mile 61, treating my blisters again.
*super ultralight hikers.
I have handed out bandaids, lighters, pain meds, electrolyte packets, and various other kind of important things to people who can't be bothered to carry a few extra pounds of emergency supplies. My secondary trailname, after Crotalus, has become trail mom. Seriously, folks, if your pack is 35lb, you're probably missing something important. Consider it, instead of bumming off the "overloaded" and prepared.