Mile 609 To 631
I again wake to awesome stars, then panic and touch my bag. It is damp, but nothing of biblical proportions. In fact, I am pretty sure I hear Noah putting away his tools. Today lack of water is the problem. The water report says the Kelso Road cache is no longer maintained and neither is the one at Robin Pass. We resign ourselves to the miserable side trip to Willow Springs at 11 miles.
The hike begins in burned out trees. There are so many trees blown down that it feels like the Pacific Crest Obstacle Course – over some, around others, and even under a few. This section clearly needs maintenance, but nothing bars our progress.
We meet a couple of southbound section hikers. They are worth their weight in gold because they have current information about where we are headed. They tell us they walked by two water caches, but could not remember exactly where. They must be Kelso and Robin.
When we arrive at Kelso there is a small cache. About a half dozen partially used 2.5 gallon jugs are spewed about. There is one unopened which Smiley, who we just met, took to his beast of a pack and brought back empty. I don’t even have enough storage capacity for 2.5 gallons. “I get thirsty,” he says. We top off our liter bottles and move on.
Since the southbound hikers were right about Kelso, we decide to skip Willow Spring and hike on through. We drop below the tree line and it really feels like a dry barren desert. We are lucky it is not nearly as hot as it could be.
There are towers in the distance. I turn on my cell phone and am surprised to see 4 bars. I quickly try to call my wife Terri and the bars suddenly go away, as if to say “Who us? Oh no, we were just stretching.” What is the point of those bars? If they were power bars or ice cream bars I could eat them, but these are totally useless. Three bars walk into a cell phone. The cell phone asks “Are you staying long?” “Only until Rick tries to make a call.” Ugh!
When I get to Robin Pass the water cache is almost completely gone. There are empties everywhere with one 5 gallon jug about 1/3 filled. I top off a few liter bottles, but cannot take what I want. There are five hikers I am traveling with coming behind me, and they need water too. This will have to last us for tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s breakfast and the next 20 miles. The southbound hikers told us only of two caches, and we have now seen them both.
As I am lying here writing this a beautiful bobcat comes out from a bush and enters my cowboy camp. He freezes two feet from my two feet. We stare at each other. He seems puzzled by my presence, but not afraid. We have a moment. He moves towards Rum Monkey’s cowboy camp. Rum Monkey is not noticing, so I wave my arms. Nothing. I make pointy ears with my hands. Nothing. I snap my fingers and point at the cat. Nothing. I whistle softly and Rum Monkey lifts up his head and looks at me. The Bobcat bolts, never to be seen by Rum Monkey.