Day 161, September 11, 2012

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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?


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