I do not have a lot of good things to say about today. The morning started off just great. Took my time packing up and filling up water. Today I would carry 8 liters (17.6 lbs). Added to my 15 lbs of food, and 25 lbs base weight my pack weighed 57.6 lbs.
The moment I hit the trail. I knew I would need to take it easy. The first 5 miles were pretty uneventful, maybe a little slow... Then WHAM, my back gave out. I was stuck on the ground for a good 15 minutes before I could do anything useful. Slowly I started to stretch and move around trying to loosen a couple vertebrae in my mid-back.
I ate some snacks while I thought about my choices. I thought about walking the 5 miles back to the last campground (which had water) or taking some Ibuprofen and continuing on. I also thought about the fact that I still had 7 liters of water in my pack. I decided to rest for a little longer and chug half a liter before putting my pack on.
It really sucked being in the middle of nowhere with no cell service and nobody nearby to converse with.
Eventually I had the courage to try and put my pack on. First I moved my pack to a rock, so that I didn't need to swing it around my shoulder (how I normally put my pack on).
My back was very stiff and sensitive to jerky movements, but taking it slow I was about to move forward on the trail. I didn't think much for the 5 miles and took very few pictures. I was more focused on the overwhelming challenge ahead... Go 17 more miles in the heat and hope to be in camp before sunset. I was going very slow (1-1.5 mph).
I knew there was a group ahead of me waiting out the heat of the day. I tried to catch them... kind of like a goal for the day to distract me from how many miles I had to go. Once the Ibuprofen kicked in, walking was more comfortable. But not too long after that, the wind started to pick up.
I stopped very little as my back would tighten after not to long of staying still. This caused me to not eat enough throughout the day to maintain my energy and strength. Short 10 minute snack breaks.
At 10 miles for day, the wind really started to pick up and the trail turned to a fine sand (like walking on a sand dune), which made it very difficult to go anywhere. Over the next 12 miles, there was a lot of yelling and cursing at the wind.
I was physically and mentally exhausted with 5 miles to go. I wish I could have stopped but for two reasons I couldn't. First, I needed to make it at least half way to have enough water to complete this dry stretch tomorrow. Second, I was hiking on a fairly steep hillside and there was no place to camp that was flat or out of the wind.
With 3 miles to go, the trail goes over the ridge of the hill and it became much less windy. Out of nowhere I broke down and tried for a bit. Tears of pain, exhaustion, relief and a sense of accomplishment.
Met with with the group at the end of the day which really helped lift my spirits. It's good to hear stories of others reactions to the wind. Mostly a lot of yelling.
By far the hardest day of hiking I've ever experienced.
What 8 liters of water looks like. Each liter weighs 2.2lbs.