Saturday I went hiking with Derek Noonburg. We went to Pinnacles National Monument and hiked on North Wilderness Trail, looping back on Old Pinnacles Trail, through Balconies Caves, and on Balconies Trail. Total distance: about 10 miles.
North Wilderness Trail is an unmaintained trail. It is 7.6 miles long and has a lot of nasty evil weeds that snag in socks and work their way in to scratch skin. There are also many flies. It is marked by occasional pickets (sorta like metal stop sign posts without the sign), but many of them were washed away in the recent floods. I was glad to have made the investment in a compass and topographic map.
I was wearing a wide-brimmed hat which the flies liked to settle on, but they weren't bothering me nearly as much as they were Derek, who had a constant swarm of 5 or 10 flies around his head at all times.
I think I was losing consciousness throughout the trip. I remember making conversation and stuff, but I can't remember any thought processes behind it. I hadn't brought enough water (which I knew in advance, but I couldn't find my other water bottle), but I refused on principle to drink any of Derek's water. He claimed he had brought too much, but I didn't see any of his left when we got back to the car.
When we stopped for lunch, I could barely eat one of my two sandwiches because I didn't have enough energy or moisture in my mouth to swallow very well. Also, whenever we stopped the flies would get thicker around us and it was difficult to eat without accidentally consuming a fly.
That night as I tried to go to sleep, I had the constant feeling that there were gnats circling my head, crawling around my pillow, getting trapped between my ear and the pillow.
We had to stop often to pick the worst of the pricker weeds from our socks. They were specially designed by nature in the fashion of arrowheads, so that they are diffucult to pull out without ripping things open further, plus they work their way inward with motion.
When we stopped for lunch, I found two ticks on my leg, which I removed. Later that night, safe on my toilet back in my apartment, I found a strange mole high on my thigh that I didn't remember. It itched slightly, so I gave it an experimental scratch. It popped off and landed on the floor upsidedown, waving its legs futily.
I was wearing my sunglasses for the entire trip. When we got to the Balconies Caves, it was very dark, but I couldn't take them off because they are prescription and my regular glasses were back in the car.
When we got back to the parking area I drank a lot of water from the water fountain, then chugged a soda. I also immediately started the car and turned the air-conditioning on high. Ahhhhhh.
As we were leaving, I almost stalled the car in a shallow ford because I couldn't find the energy to push the gas petal. So then I tried to pick up the pace on the one-lane road leading out of the park, trying to get some adrenalin flowing. I think my brain was still pretty well out of it though, 'cause I think at one point I hit the rev limiter 'cause I didn't feel like shifting. Oof.
Once we got back to the highway, I think I drove OK.
Back at my apartment, I took my shoes and socks off and laid them beside my easy chair. Sunday I never put them on again because I just lazed around all day. This morning I threw the socks in the trash and spent 40 minutes undoing my laces and removing all the pricker weeds from my shoes.
My shoulders ache and I don't know why.