Memories from October 9, 2018
After packing up to leave the Needles Outpost this morning, I discovered that I didn’t have my trekking poles. I resigned myself to wait until 9am when it opened so I could search the store but managed to catch an employee doing chores to look for me. Ultimately, they were just outside where I’d been trying to patch my sleeping pad. The patch didn’t hold so this morning I tried the rubber cement under tenacious tape. As I’m typing this, I’m feeling that not work either. Nights are pretty warm but I’ll need a new sleeping pad at my next resupply otherwise it could be safety issue as you can lose a lot of heat through the ground without a proper pad.
Leaving out a few shorter sections, the hike had several distinct experiences:
1) Road walk to the Big Spring Trailhead. This means I skipped the last ~4mi of section 3. I accidentally threw out the guidebook page for section 3 forgetting I had a little bit more. The terrain looks pretty difficult so I’m just going to let it go. The road walk however was like flying.
2) Walking good quality trail (a first as previously the route has been on road, rarely maintained trail with navigation hazards, or cross country) to Butler Wash. Also like flying, though I got winded trying to hike too fast uphill.
3) The beginning of Butler Wash which is best thought of as a constant obstacle course. Like doing a lot of slow step-ups at the gym on uneven surfaces.
There was one pour-off which had some trouble navigating around. After exploring a couple of promising options which didn’t quite go, I ended up going back a hundred yards or so and scrambling up a steep dirt slope. On the way up, I saw a nice shallow slope up just another 50yds back. Oh well.
4) The majority of Butler Wash (admittedly, I’m not done with it yet) which was like walking on a beach near the tide line where the sand is reasonably firm. Like flying.
This part of Butler Wash wiggles like crazy (also, it doesn’t seem to be consistently up or downhill) and I was trying to track my progress on the map. Since it’s annoying walking with map and compass in hand and trekking poles tucked under an arm, I would put the map and compass away after having memorized the next few turns the was was supposed to take so I could trace them as I went. I’m one place, I got a NE turn of the wash confused with a side canyon which came in from the east. Multiple other things lined up well enough that when I pulled the map and compass back out to try to find my position, I was thoroughly confused. I walked back until I was sure I knew where I was, then walked the turns carefully watching the compass. This time, however, I got SW and SE backwards when translating from map to compass. I was so confused (side note: all three streams which converged at this point flowed downhill yet there was no outlet and there didn’t appear to be water pooling despite recent rain). I just couldn’t find the place where the wash turned NE. Then I got all the way back to where I was sure that the side canyon joined from the east, read the bearing, and it was NE.