August 25th 2015: Day Four
"Do you have the bug spray?" I run up to the van as they pull up.
"Yeah, " Alex chuckles as I hastily snatch it from him and immediately spray my clothes. I even start to rub some of the heavy duty spray onto my skin.
With great satisfaction, I watch as clouds of morning skeeters part as I walk through, like the Red Sea . Eventually, one by one, everyone sprays a bit, except for Emmalyn; her zen thing must be really effective for her.
"So, I barely got everything I needed to get done yesterday, " Alex says as he changes from shorts into pants, "But Dana is amazing, she's on the phone doing calls, getting things done, and all through this I watch her pull fresh baked muffins from the oven."
Breakfast is fresh fruit and muffins. Genie makes some Turkish coffee. I walk back and forth from the van with my things, eating what I can in the rush of it all. At fifteen miles, this is going to be one of the longest days on the hike.
Barry says his goodbyes; unfortunately his knee has not gotten better, so he will be unable to continue hiking. I am disappointed, but I respect his judgement of his abilities. He assures us that he will meet up with us throughout the hike when he can.
The sun is bright and hot when we reach the farm road. This part of the basin has a grid of irrigation and dusty roads that we can cut through to the other highway.
As we walk the dusty road, a wave of locusts precedes us madly, getting out of the way of our stomping feet and cloud of dust. The soil here is so fine, "I can see why this is prized farmland, " Genie says.
After four miles of bright sun, bugs, and agriculture we take refuge in the shade of a large abandoned looking farm machine. A flock of black birds flies away as I approach and roughly collapse onto the ground.
Genie and Emmalyn join me and tell me the bad news. The road we were going to take is a no go. Apparently the pit crew were scouting it out and ran into the farmer who denied access. We have to change route, and spend another two or three hours in these fields so lacking in protection from the sun.
It's not terribly bad walking down along the Klamath Strait. We watch a pair of coyotes kicking up the dust as they run. Ducks and swans quack warnings at us from the water. The other hikers try to identify the tracks in the silt soil.
Blacktop and Birds
The water roils and rumbles at the irrigation pump. Green algae floats in the slower moving water. We cross the strait and it's not long before we breakout on the road. The next five miles stretches out before us, to the south there are areas with small long pols of water which cranes and egrets hang out. Flocks of small blackbirds swoosh across the sky, and every so often a crow caws lightly to remind us of their presence.
The cranes piss me off a bit. They just stand there or fly, doing what you'd expect cranes to do and don't seem to talk back when you talk to them, nor do they wave. They are just rude.
Genie lets me take a sip of her water. My bladder ran out while we were walking down the strait. The cranes seem less apathetic, but throughout the rest of the day, I still don't trust them.
We finally join up with the highway, meet the van and refill water, snack and, at my behest rest more than fifteen minutes. I am at Genie's mercy, her fingers press with perfect pressure against my instep.
While my leg is outstretched and everyone has a boring conversation about what we're going to do. I think about standing one leg in water. I am keeping almost all of my attention at the water, looking for the buzzing things that taste good. Or the tiny fast things that taste better. Sometimes I grab the dangerous things that make squiggles on top of the water, I choke it down because Phil and Phil and Phillys would never let me hear the end of it. They usually stand closer to the sun than I do, and the last time I let one of those go by, Phil almost lost a leg.
I drink more water. And then I eat gummy bears, and then I drink more water. We walk for four and a half more miles, leaving only three to Keno. We tell jokes along the way, taste wildberries and plums. It is uphill, but since I am only carrying my water bladder, and my med pack it isn't all that bad. The bug spray bottle taps against the side of my leg, unused in my auxillary pocket. There are actual trees! Sure, fiberfarmy trees, heavily managed, very evenly distributed and little variety, but almost like forests! The wind sighs coolly against my arms and I feel chilled for the first time during the evening while the sun is still up.
Alex picks us up at Buck road. We head to the campgrounds, and it really is a different landscape. Soft needles cover the ground, big trees obscure the setting sun, and I hear the sound of fast running water. The rushing sound of wind through trees is the last thing I hear when I fall asleep.