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DWTH Day 41: Surprise Geocache & Low Passes

DWTH Day 41: Surprise Geocache & Low Passes

Stats

👣 Miles: 15.37

📈 Elevation Gain: 3,173 ft

📉 Elevation Loss: 1,069 ft

Overall Weather: Windy, then Hot, then Partly Cloudy

Good Morning, Wind

Our good friend, Windy, kept us up again, although not as bad as the previous night. 

We couldn’t fully cinch the guidelines because the ground was sandy, and there were literally no rocks around. 

The wind persisted into the morning and it actually helped us stay cool as we continued traveling a wide open valley between mountain ranges. 

The Surprise Geo Cache

The road had a lot of deep sand, so we paralleled it to one side to get crunchier steps.

There, we started finding all sorts of things. Of course, we found the usual bullet shells and balloons (stop letting your helium balloons float into the sky…it’s not cute). But we also found old sardine cans with latchkey openings and a homemade mug from a tin can. 

Then, Karma found a film canister with a note. A geocache! The last person to sign in was in 2019. 🤯

He signed our names, and we continued on the road toward our next Wilderness Area. 

Route Options

Old Woman Wilderness Sign in the middle of the desert.

We came upon a junction where the route went into some low hills and over a low pass to some water. 

Since yesterday was so overcast, we had enough water to skip this one and head to the next. 

We saw we had several more low passes that were higher than this one, so we took the shorter route. We felt like it was a nice option to change up the footing and get more water, but ehhh. 

Our Ford Friend, Tom

After we passed a small trailhead, we saw none other than the guy in the Ford SUV driving up to us. 

He got out and chatted with us this time, and we learned that his name was Tom. He’d even hiked the AT in 2003 and recognized us as hikers (that hasn’t happened often on this route). 

After a good chat, he left to explore the area we had just passed, and we headed on. We hoped we weren’t too squirrelly, only having each other to converse with. 

The Heat

A mojave yucca in the desert of southern California.
Mojave Yucca

We had lunch as the heat of the day started to creep in, and the wind died. 

Of course, after lunch, we had our first low pass of the day. 

The good news was that we’d been slowly climbing most of the day. That meant that the steep part of the climb was really only a few hundred vertical feet. The bad news was that within minutes, we were extra sweaty.  

On the other side of the pass, we saw rock shade. There are different levels of shade in the desert. Shade from plants is good, but it varies drastically between plants. Shade from rocks is the best.

This particular rock shade also has the perfect reclining angle for us to lounge against. We went into full lizard mode pausing the cold rock to cool ourselves down. 

A Seldom Used 4WD Track

When we left the rock shade, we took a few washes to get to a seldom-used 4WD track. It seemed mostly used by cows. 

Miraculously, during our rock shade break, puffy white clouds moved in and broke the afternoon heat into something more palatable. 

We saw no cows there ourselves but saw all the prints and shit from them. 

A 2nd Low Pass

A thru-hiker climbing a low desert pass in the late afternoon shade.
Climbing in the Shade

Eventually, we made a hard left into a wash and took that up another steep low pass. I quickly discovered that Mojave Yuccas do not move. Like…those spikes don’t bend when you try to go through. 

I may have left some blood on one. 

We’re still adjusting to the distinctly new ecosystem we’ve walked into. 

We ate a bar on the pass and then scrambled down the other side. While we found it unhelpful that the yuccas didn’t move, we found it decidedly helpful that the rocks also didn’t move. 

Camp

A low desert campsite with a bit of a sunset.

We started looking for a campsite before the 3rd low pass. 

Nothing fantastic came about, so we eventually settled for a site we normally wouldn’t take. Tonight though, it was definitely in the “good enough” category.