Day 2: Hauser Hell

March 21
Mileage 10
Miles 10.24 to 20

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I wake up at 6:30 am. All through the night, my injured leg would kinda crunch up on itself, like a giant charlie horse from my hip to my toe. When I stand up, my leg is stiff, and it is worrisome. But I’ve got hiking to do, so “suck it up, Igor,”- Igor being this scuttling leg of mine.

Again I can’t eat. I choke down about 5 Macaroons and chase them with a good amount of water. I started with 4 liters, so I’m good in that regard.

The trail is just as jumbled and rocky as I left it before. It jumps up, twists down, and drops me off at a jeep road. Below is Hauser Creek, and across the way I can see the trail cutting up Hauser Mountain with long, yet sharp switchbacks that look kinda steep to me. There is a nice breeze going on, but I can feel the sun eyeing me, stern and gathering its strength. Ah, well. Nothing to do but go down.
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Things get a little greener as I slope downwards, the kind of green that comes with moisture. But Hauser Creek is dry, and there is a water cache sitting neatly in the dirt by the trail. There is also miscellaneous items piled alongside them, hikers shedding unwanted weight.

I don’t need water but I do need to rest so I sit and force the remaining Macaroons down my gullet. I don’t feel good. Kinda dizzy. And nauseous.

I told myself that I would sit for at least a half hour, but after 15 minutes, I just want to move forward, so i do. Up past a leisurely hill, and then sudden exposure. It’s hot, it’s steep, it’s rocky and the sun is aimed right at my face.

Time slows, everything slows, and I feel more and more sick as I trudge upward. I can’t go more than 20 feet without stopping. What is happening to me? I find a tiny piece of shade and sit there, feeling confounded, frustrated. It can’t be like this before I’ve even gone 20 miles, it just can’t. But it is.
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I make my way along. The trail is blazing red dirt and rock rising steadily among the dry brush and boulders. I trudge. And stop. And trudge again. I see some people riding Off Road Vehicles on a ridge up above, and they are staring at me. They seem to know my shame, and I turn my back on them, feeling humiliated. Feeling sorry for myself.

And then I am at the top of the 2 mile incline and there is a brief reprieve. The trail is an innocent meadow for a moment, and changes back into a harsh mistress of sand and dirt, barreling along a dense corridor of brush and bramble.

I see Aaron ahead. Nisa barks at me. I feel relief. I throw a mini pity party for myself, and then we are traipsing along. Yes, now that they are here with me, it is traipsing. I can see what’s left of Lake Morena, then the buildings and homes within Morena Village, and then, finally, the campground. Home. For tonight, at least.

Aaron has Pepsi and chicken strips waiting for me, and finally I have an appetite. I gulp it all down and fall asleep on the picnic table.
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Strange things at the campground. Like, people drive their cars over to the restroom instead of walking, for some reason. And there is like a cadre of dogs out there close by, perpetually barking as if their lives depended upon it. What do they see? What do they know?

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