Day 11: Hottest day, longest day

19.1 miles (124.9 to 144.0), plus ~0.3 mile to/from water tank at Mike’s Place

I wake up feeling like I’m going to puke. It’s not yet 11pm. I lay in bed all twisted up, wondering what’s going on and how long it’s going to last. Eventually I burp. So it’s just gas? Apparently the hodgepodge of partially rehydrated food I ate for dinner isn’t playing well in my stomach. Painful, but not life threatening. I don’t even have to get out of bed if I don’t want to. 

When I wake again, the sky is clear and pale. For the first time since I can recall, there is no wind. I don’t even need my down jacket. I packed up my things as quickly as I can. I have very little water, so for now I eat a protein bar for breakfast. I’ll eat more once we reach the water tank. 

Before we hike out, I run up behind camp to answer a call of nature. Squatting on the hillside, I notice a tick working it’s way down my thigh. Words cannot describe the emotions that bolt through me upon seeing this thing. Panic. Fear. Dread. These are shadows of what I feel as I grab the tick before it attempts to burrow in. I photograph it, then I kill it. 

I finish my business on the hill, heart still pounding, and check as much of myself and my clothing as I can. Back in camp, I share news of my would-be parasite. We all check for ticks. Finding none (thankfully), we set out for the water tank at Mike’s Place, only a few miles away. At the tank, we collect enough water for the next 22 miles, plus a dry camp. We eat breakfast. Then we walk. 

The temperature climbs into the mid-80s – the warmest weather I’ve experienced since last summer. My body isn’t acclimated to such heat. We take a few breaks with our packs off, but mostly we just cruise. I wear my sunglasses. I use my solar panel. I finally use my sun umbrella. I actually feel like I’m in the desert. 

We talk of pulling off a 19-mile day. We all seem up for the challenge. Despite the heat, perhaps because of my umbrella’s delicious shade, I feel great. Even after lunch, in full afternoon heat, I can’t slow down. I find my pace and stick with it. 

Near mile 133, a chunky lizard skitters across the trail. A horned lizard! The lizard stops on a rock and I lean in for a few photographs. Awesome.


We pass a concrete cistern that still contains water. A handwritten note on top tells us the cistern also contains (contained?) a dead mouse. Not that we’d refill here, anyway. This water looks putrid. 

Down we go into Nance Canyon. There are a few campsites here. If we don’t do the 19 miles, this is where we’ll stay. Cottonwood trees cast deep shade, but there’s no water. We unanimously agree to keep moving. 

Up we go, out of the canyon. Toward the end of the day we come upon a water cache full of empty bottles. We carry on and soon reach our destination: a scattering of campsites in a boulder field. 

I pitch my tent beside a red boulder as tall as a house. It’s a beautiful campsite in a mediocre location. We’re perched over a valley containing many homes and ranches and their associated sounds. In my tent, I can hear dogs barking (and barking and barking) and vehicles down below, but I can also hear Poorwills calling. (The Poorwill is a nocturnal bird that says “poor-will, poor-will.”) 

I’ve had no foot pain today beyond the soreness that comes with hiking 19 miles carrying 15 pounds of water. I didn’t even change my insoles today! My body is tired but I have no pain. Anywhere. This could be the beginning of the big mile days. 

*More photos on Instagram


6 thoughts on “Day 11: Hottest day, longest day

  1. I’m thoroughly enjoying your posts, Kelly! Question, what types of foods are you eating? Do you eating prepackaged dehydrated meals or are you eating a more minimalistic diet, like nuts and dried fruits and beef jerky?


    • Hi Collette, I’m mostly eating items of my own creation. Breakfast is a cereal of almond flour, shredded coconut, ground hemp and chia seeds, maca powder, green powder, and dried coconut milk. I add water and eat like oatmeal. Lunch is bean flakes with a bag of potato chips. Dinner is bean and/or rice noodles with olive oil and dried spinach and spices. I eat a few bars (Paleo ingredients, low sugar) during the day. Also some jerky.


  2. Teri just let me know about your blog and I read them all in one sitting. I’m living vicariously-you’re amazing! Enjoy your grand adventure!


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