Day 162, September 12, 2012

  I woke up and my knees were locked. The first thing I noticed was that. I couldnt even hardly bend them. They were in a lot of pain. I was not feeling good at all.
     I sat up and every little movement was hurting. Uh ohh. Something feels messed up, bad. I was instantly in a light panic. I started breathing heavily and grabbed my knees while bending down toward them. "oh no" I said lightly. I lifted my knees upward with my hands to bend them. They were so tight it felt like I was in a metal brace or something. This is not good. The pain is bad. They were swelled up and nothing about today was feeling good right now.
     I sat there just with a blank mindset. I stared at a bush in front of me and totally was lost in thought. Am I really here right now? Am I really hurting this bad and in the middle of the Mohave desert alone? My water supply was in danger of running out before I make it out of here. The heat is brutal and the conditions I'm dealing with are easily dangerous to the point of death. I sat there lost in almost an out of body experience. Like a mix of panic, disbelief, solitude, and complete loneliness. A surprising calmness came over me. Almost like an acceptance of the situation and knowing staying calm is my best bet. And all the while I hear a light whispering wind pass through the dry weeds around me. Almost like a background that was perfectly accurate to what was going on in my body and mind.
     I bent my knees more and was now sitting up with my legs tucked close to me. I put my arms around my knees and locked my hands together and rested my chin on my knees. I couldn't even think a minute ahead or plan anything. I was just completely zoned out of life. Almost a fascinating feeling even though I had a deep worry of danger ahead.
I looked around slowly. Looking left along the highway, then looking right. Nothing. No cars, no buildings. Nothing.
     I finally came back to my Senses a little and laid back. I started stretching my legs out in hopes of feeling better. It felt very awkward and uncomfortable. Any way that I moved my knees were hurting. But I stretched anyways.
After laying there for about 20 minutes I knew I needed to get up and try to walk. I just wanted to sit there, but I can't just sit in the scorching sun all day. I needed to try and cover ground. At least test my knees.
     I stood up and my knees were shaking lightly. They felt so weak and my entire body was so drained. I knew at that point I may have pushed too far yesterday. Every shift of my legs or footing hurt bad. I packed up slowly and kept a cautious mindset on how I moved around.
I was all packed up and then wrapped my knees with ace bandages. The tightness around my knee felt a little better, but not much.
I started walking out toward the road and I was grimacing every step. When I reached the road I stopped and leaned on my cart. I was not feeling a good vibe.
I figured I would at least try a few miles and see how I feel. I walked down the road very slowly and was focused on keeping close attention to my knees. I walked for about a mile very slowly and it felt like the pain was slowly getting worse and worse each step.
     When I got about a mile in my right knee buckled.. I shuffled my feet and sort of did a half fall before planting and catching myself. My knee was shaking rapidly and I needed to stop. This is not good.
     Just ahead about 200ft there was a railroad bridge where It looked like I might be able to catch a shade spot. There was no other shade around and it was already really hot. I leaned heavily on my cart and walked with less weight on my legs to get over there. Each step was very slow and I really babied my way there. I walked to the bottom of the small bridge. Just under it was a small area of shade. I slowly pulled my cart under there and plopped down on the sand. I was pretty worried but almost feeling like I was hallucinating a little and my emotions were blocked or something. The heat was getting to me. And frankly, food was the last thing on my mind. I was starving but didn't care to eat. I sat there just staring blank into the concrete support of the bridge. I really couldn't even think straight. I knew I could calculate my water and distance until 29 palms to gauge exactly how much danger I was really in. But as I sat there spaced out, I didn't care to. I almost didn't care about anything at this point.
     I sat there lightly drinking my water, which was hot from the heat, and half way closed my eyes as I sat with my back against the concrete wall of the bottom of the railroad bridge. I eventually dozed off there and had the weirdest kind of half sleep feeling ever. The wind still lightly whispered through the air and I almost felt the little noise of that was competing with the ringing of my ears. It was a back and forth battle to what was louder depending on if the wind died down for a few moments here and there. This really seemed fake and like a dream. The desert, in this point and time, was completely dominating me.
     I woke up later and was super blurry. I was drenched in sweat with beads rolling down my face. I was dirty and stinky, and about as uncomfortable as I have ever been. I drank my hot water little by little just knowing each sip was that much closer to running out. And I was moving at all right now. I was still a long ways from anything and wasn't sure when I could move again. All I knew was it wasn't today. I was stuck. But for some reason so out of it I lost the nervousness. Such a weird feeling that I had never experienced before. I'm so far from life outside of me and have absolutely no outside communication.
     I grabbed my jacket and laid down on it. I fell asleep and slept for a good while. When I woke up I didn't know what to do with myself. I rubbed my knees and they were still feeling horrible. I didn't want to think about reality or about the situation still. So I laid back down and fell asleep again.
I woke up later when the sun was starting to drop down in the west. Suddenly I came to my senses. Ok, I need to try and walk again. At least a little. If I can make another mile and then get a long night of rest for my knees, maybe tomorrow and can get back on track. I need to conserve water just enough where I'm not dehydrated, and I need to eat something. I have some trail mix I can snack on. I suddenly switched to being in focus. I started moving and doing things, I ate some trail mix and drank just enough water. I re wrapped my knees and stretched out. I got up and walked out back onto the highway. A car passed by right when I was out there and it gave me hope. If things get too bad I will wave a car down and jump in front of it. Ok, I'm good now.
     I walked about a mile and felt better mentally. My knees still hurt a lot and was an obvious issue, but rest has to help. Right?
     I made it far enough and was ready to stop and rest the knees for the night. I walked off the road and found a good sized bush to hide behind. It cooled down now and I was feeling better. The day wore me out and was definitely very bizarre. But I can bounce back, no problem.
     I made my bed in the blank sand on the ground and laid down. I watched as the sun set and said a prayer. I had trust that I was going to be ok. The thing I emphasized more in my prayer was to remember this moment. Remember this pain. Remember this day of lost hope and how much I thought there might not be a way out. Remember all the pain in my legs and just know that later if they feel better, you came from where they are now. Be thankful for the rest and recovery. I really think it will work out. But remember the tough time. Remember what to be thankful for later when things are all good. Remember the power of healing and grace. To whoever or wherever it comes from. But just remember.
     The sun disappeared and I laid there feeling the weight of everything bearing down on me. I fell asleep on my back with my knees up on my backpack. I fell asleep early and really hoped the morning would be a better one.


Day 161, September 11, 2012

I woke up with my body aching pretty bad. My feet felt almost bruised badly, my hips cramped, my knees in pain. It was a rough feeling. But I was about 50 ft from the California state line. I can't believe I made it all the way here. I can feel the toll on my body, but the achieved feeling took over as I came to my senses and started to comprehend how far I have come.
I stood up off the concrete and saw that there were some bigger glass pieces under me than I saw from the night before. I had slept right on a good handful of glass.
     I looked out from an opening in the brick building I slept in and saw the California state line glowing like a charm or something. It was a good moment and I just smiled for about 2 minutes while I stood there in a rush of emotions. I was ready to pack up and get moving for the day, in California, for the first time in almost 10 months. Back in my home state and never appreciated it more.
I packed my things up and stretched out before I would get a move on. It was about 6am and it was already pretty warm. It was looking to be a hot day of walking ahead.
     I walked out from where I had slept and over to the sign. I stopped there and enjoyed the moment a little more. I made sure to say a little prayer of thanks for all the blessings and guidance I received along the way. It was a long road to here and somehow I have dodged the thousands of problems or things that could have stopped me in my tracks. It was a very humbling moment of thanks. I asked for protection of the last state of my voyage and to get me home safe and sound to my loved ones.
I left walking there and passed a sign that said "29 palms 103 miles". I have to be honest, I didn't really look ahead and prepare too much for California. I almost felt like it was an easy homestretch    now that I'm here. I didn't realize that the biggest challenge could be yet to come.
     I walked about 4 miles in when I lost Internet signal. I was starting to hope that the gas station that showed on my GPS ahead was even there. The GPS has been wrong on many occasions before and this was one time where I couldn't afford that. I was immediately feeling that I got so caught up and rushed to cross into California, that I honestly forgot to prepare for what could be a brutal stretch. I only had about 3 gallons of water jugs full. That was only going to get me 30 miles. Man, I really hope that gas station is ahead.
     When I left Parker it showed a junction 10 miles ahead with a couple stores. I was now suddenly in a desolate world. It was more quiet around me than it has been the entire journey yet. And there are less cars than anywhere I've been to. It was a very lonely feeling and it set in in a harsh way. Especially knowing I was low on water.
     I had no way of tracking my distance now since my Internet connection was gone. But the further I had walked, the more I was doubting that anything was ahead. And the more worried I was getting. I looked around now at about 7 miles in (guessing the distance from looking back now), and I couldn't see ANYTHING at all. Nothing all around me but hot blaring desert. It was not a good feeling. It was polar opposite of what I felt when I woke up in the morning.
I walked further and finally spotted something ahead. I felt a little at ease and knew all I needed was any source of water to fill up all my jugs. As I got closer things were looking better. I saw cars there and I finally could see that there was a store. Thank god.
       I came up to it and was relieved. I went in and asked the lady if they had a hose where I could fill my water jugs. She said there was a spicket out back where I could do so. I didn't have too much food left in my cart now as I had given some away in Parker to 2 homeless guys. I figured I had enough for 5-6 days if I had to stretch it out and just eat about 400-500 calories per day. I would be weak but I could survive. I picked up a bag of sunflower seeds at the store and thought that might help hold me over a little if I'm starving, and at least would provide some flavor. When I bought it the lady also handed me another bag of seeds from behind the counter. It was ripped and she said she couldn't sell it. That was nice of her. I could for sure use them. I asked her what the next establishment of any kind was. She said 93 miles until 29 palms. And there's nothing from here to there besides open desert. I swallowed hard and felt a nervousness in my stomach.
     I went out to the side and turned the spicket on. I let it run a couple minutes and then started filling the jugs up. When I filled the first jug I took a swig of the water. It tasted pretty funky to be honest. But it was water, and water will keep me alive. I filled all 13 of my 1 gallon water jugs. Usually I can walk 10 miles per gallon. So 13 would get me 130 miles. I figured.
As I left there walking away I was loaded down with weight and feeling like I was entering a war zone. I walked into pure loneliness and solitude. It was scorching hot now and the sun was beating down on me and the land all around. All the open miles ahead of me and no shade to be found. Well, here we go...
     My knees were in a little pain and I was trying to pace my speed. I was guzzling down water more than I expected. The dry heat seemed like it was just draining the water out of my body. The water tasted more weird the more I drank it.
I walked about 8 more miles roughly when I must have been about 18 miles in for the day now. It was still somewhat early and I had a good amount of daylight ahead still. I took a short break and stretched, then continued. I had burned through almost a gallon and a half of water and was still thirsty. This was worrying me.
     I got to around the 20 miles mark when I decided to try and push further. I was thinking that if I could make it through the 93 mile stretch in 4 days, I would be ok on water. I literally can't go 10 miles without water in this heat. That is putting a high risk on dehydration and my health. Heat stroke or passing out in the Mojave desert could be fatal. That was the first time I even had a thought like that and it scared me.
     The heat really beat me up all day and it was a relief when the sun was setting and the air cooled down. I was feeling very worn out by now as I reached the 25 mile mark (roughly). I still had water consumption on my mind and I didn't like the way the math was adding up. I was not in a panic mode, but I was worried. So I decided I would try and get as many miles as I could now that the sun was down. It was cooler and my body was holding the water in. I would use less water per mile now as opposed to the heat of the day. So I walked as much as I could at night.
      My knees were hurting badly now, but the strategy for conserving water outweighed that in my mind. It was so quiet and no cars passed by at all. With no signal at all, nowhere to stop, and nothing around, at all. It seemed as if I was walking into oblivion. Like I was heading into outer space or something. Was there really anything ahead? Was I sure of my route? Wow, the desert was already working its loneliness into my head.
     I walked more and more and just kept going. Through the pain, through the fear, through the deadly land of the Mojave. I pushed further and further into the night. The further I could go, the more water I could save. I was not drinking nearly as much now, and that seemed like the only priority on my mind. It had been so hot all day that I didn't find much of an appetite. I was feeling weak, but the thought off food almost made me gag. I think it was the nervousness too.
I finally was just about completely spent. I made it to a railroad crossing where I randomly found a helicopter pad. I walked up to it and stopped there for the night. Right when I sat down to rest my body, my knees heated up and swelled. Uh oh. That has never happened. I didn't know this until later, but I walked 38 miles. My body was not responding well.
     I felt like I had been hit by a car. Everything was stiff and in pain. It was like my knees had too much pain to handle, so it put the pain in other areas to deal with it. I was not feeling good now.
The worries along with the dead silence did not help. It was so quiet that I heard ringing in my ears. I can't even remember ever hearing that. I looked all around and there was not even 1 light anywhere. Wow. I just entered a whole different world today. The desert is no joke.
I made my bed and it was around midnight. My knees really hurt in any position. I laid there trying to get comfortable but no position helped. I was starting to wonder how I would feel in the morning. Would I recover? Or did I push too much today??
     I tossed and turned all night and didn't sleep much. Not only was the pain and uncomfortableness keeping me up, but the worries of what I just got into was also weighing on me heavily. I said another prayer that night. This one was not in the same light tone as the prayer in the morning.
California was a relief to get to, but provided a very harsh welcome. What will tomorrow bring?


Day 160, September 10, 2012

I woke up on day 160 next to highway 95 between Havasu and Parker AZ. It was pretty overcast still and a little damp from the rain that fell through the night. It was about 7:30 and I wanted to get up and going.  I packed up and got myself ready. I stretched and did all the other morning stuff. I snacked on a granola bar and headed out of the dry creek area and onto the 95.
After walking for about a half mile my right foot was killing me. I didn't realize how bad it was the day before, but they were hurting today. I pulled off my show and my toe had a nasty blister! The bottom of my foot also had a really sensitive spot that felt like an incoming blister that just hadn't developed and filled with fluid yet. I ended up putting bandaids on them. Then I took some spare socks and cut the foot part off with my knife to slip them over my foot for more padding. I duct taped it a few times around to give it a little more cushion. When I took off walking, the pain was not all the way gone, but it was much better.
     I walked from there south and it was mostly downhill. The highway veered closer and closer to the Colorado river the further south I walked. I came to a bend where the highway actually went over the river and it was such a pretty spot. I stopped there to have some golf fishes (care package from the Vegas girls) and I took some pictures also. I sat on the railing of the bridge for maybe 10 minutes.
When I left there I walked up the hill on the other side and it was a windy steep climb. The view was better and better the higher up I went. I reached the top and then it was a steep downhill grade that dropped into Parker dam, a small town with a little store.
It was getting pretty warm by now so I stopped under the overhang in the shade to sit down right in front of the store. I sat on my sleeping bag and rested. I stretched my calves a little there as well. My left calve was cramped for some reason.
    I left there and it was a moderately flat walk for the next couple miles. It brought me now right along side of the river again. Man it was so pretty and a vibrant blue color. It was almost like tropical waters. It looked refreshing. I would have jumped in, but honestly I would rather keep moving and cover the most ground I could. The only swim I have in mind is the big blue of the pacific.
The road turned west again along with the river, and it started to climb. I was getting hot on the uphill walk so I stopped to use the frog tog cooling pad that the Vegas girls brought me. That thing was awesome! I put it around the back of my neck and it felt very refreshing.
    I came to another mini summit when the road curved left and then back downhill. I decided to take another break there on the railing along side the road. A little truck passed by me and made a u turn after driving past me for maybe a quarter mile. He came up next to me and pulled off. He handed me $10 out of the passenger window. He said for me to enjoy a nice dinner tonight. I was lifted from the mans generosity. I thanked him and he turned around again to continue in his way.
I felt a small blister was starting to develope on my other foot now too. So I pulled my shoe off and wrapped my foot up with some sports tape. I walked again from there to hit the last 8 miles or so to get to Parker AZ.
     My feet were definitely hurting every step, but it wasn't enough pain to need to stop. More of an uncomfortable annoyance than anything. I walked up and down the windy road further down now. It was sort of weaving west and south back and forth.
Finally I hit a flat where the road was straight and going dead south now. My right knee began popping during the last stretch and a couple times caused a sharp pain where I would sit down quickly and rub it. I was a little nervous as I had never really felt that kind of pain before. It wasn't extremely bad, but it felt like it was deep inside the knee. I was definitely worried a bit.
I took plenty of breaks and walked slow on the last few miles. Finally I had made it to Parker! I was exhausted, starving, my body hurt all over, but I was relieved to be there. I went straight towards a McDonald's. Before I got there another car pulled over and it was another guy who handed me $5 out of his window. He seemed in a hurry and sped off before I could get a good picture.
     I got into McDonald's and was now less than 1 miles from California. Wow! I couldn't believe it! I decided to splurge and have a big dinner like the guy that gave me the $10 told me to do. So I feasted! I ordered a bunch of food off the dollar menu and just went to town. Man it was nice to stuff my face for a change from always being hungry.
I sat there for maybe an hour and then wanted to get to the state line to find a place to sleep. I walked through Parker and over another bridge that crossed the Colorado. The bridge was sketchy with no shoulder and I just went for it. A few cars got pissed but I honestly didn't care. I was beat tired and needed to cross it somehow.
      I got to the other side where I walked another half mile or so and got to the state line! I walked up to the California sign just as it was getting real dark. I made it! Wow. I walked all the way without any rides from the Atlantic ocean to California now. I couldn't believe it. I'm now at the homestretch to get to the pacific ocean!
    I stood and glared at the sign for a few moments just trying to take it in. Then I was ready to crash. There was an old skeleton of a brick building right on the Arizona side of the sign. So I walked over to it and took my gear inside there. It was just enough walls to keep me out of sight. There was a lot of broken glass all around but I found a spot where it was somewhat clear on the cement. I made my bed there and laid down. My body was hurting. But my adrenaline were allowing me to move past that pain and enjoy the moment. It was a sweet night of resting and knowing tomorrow I will step into, and begin to walk the last state of my voyage. Wow!