Six hikers sprawled out on their packs on top of the LA aqueduct at midnight. Stargazing.
Eleven miles down. Six and a half to go to reach our destination; a water cache and Gnarly’s van.
We are committed now.
We just can’t make ourselves move on just yet.
The stars in the Mojave are stunning. The sky is a wide bowl above us.
Underneath the concrete we’re sprawled on, rushes water all the way from the Sierras and across the desert to quench a city’s thirst. Strange.
Eventually, someone stirs and our spell is broken. We get up, strap on packs, and continue.
Tonight, our small herd consists of Gnarly, Mr. Pibb, Walking Stick and our usual three of Team No Hurries. None of us has completed a night hike before. None of us wanted to cross this stretch in daylight heat.
Talk rambles and keeps us going. From finding constellations, to physics and the speed of light, to things we’ve heard science is discovering, to wondering if we’ve missed a turn, to contemplating how comfy that piece of road or that anthill looks…
3:30 am. Sweet Relief. We finally arrive at Gnarly’s wheels, and he passes around beer. Overcome with joy and exhaustion. 17.5 miles by night. Disbelief that we’re actually at our goal after stumbling for so long.
7:00 am. Groggily sitting around a water cache and a small piece of shade. The sun forced us all out of our dreams. (and the nearby windmill construction). Mr. Pibb believes he actually found an anthill to sleep on.
Barely a word is spoken as we munch on food and contemplate the next six miles to water. The morning gets later and still, nobody moves.
Our triumphant herd finally says our goodbyes as Mr Pibb moves under the bridge for the day, Walking Stick bravely marches forward in the heat, and Team No Hurries accepts Gnarly’s offer: ‘I’m going to Lancaster to get a motel room, and I expect passengers’.
Mojave by Night. Can’t say I cared for that stretch. The path alternating between concrete aqueduct and dirt roads. Flat and seemingly endless. But up above, the endless night sky. That was something.