The planned route for Day Two was from Tekison Creek to Brushy Creek. (Via ten gazillion feet of climbing at ridiculous grade angles. But I digress.)
If we were lucky, our arrival might even coincide with one of these caught-on-satellite wild boat-people party events, in which case we could bathe in the river of tequila and rum that would surely be flowing and immerse ouselves in the no-holds-barred revelry. And then in the morning, we could pile our hung over selves and gear into boats with our new BFF's and hitch rides back to Vantage via fossil-fuel-powered river travel. Sweet! (Hey, a guy can dream.)
The Google Earth data shows that we started at about 600 feet, and topped out at around 1950 feet. We were out for 6 hours and 16 minutes and we travelled a mind-boggling 9.88 miles. Our average speed was 1.6 mph and our max slope up was 30.8% and our max slope down was 36.3%. What Google Earth does not show, is how many times per hour, on average, I swore to myself that, assuming I got out alive, I would never, ever, ever, do this again.
As the morning light emerged and Day Two began, snakes were still very much on our minds. The inevitable business of "doing our morning business" would mean a lonely and terrifying excursion into the grass and brush for each of us, and an even more terrifying experience of the vulnerability of squatting with no way to protect or even know what was advancing against our white, fleshy backsides. We all survived the experience, but I don't think that any of us will ever be quite the same.
We eventually broke camp and as we walked our bikes out onto the road, the first snake of the day appeared. Naturally. But amazingly, this was the last snake we would see on the entire trip. As quickly as they had imposed themselves upon us, they vanished.
For the moment, though, it was good just to be back on the road. We motored across the creek and headed uphill.
I looked at the road ahead and while it was scenically gorgeous, it was at the same time frightful from the perspective of constant exposure to the sun and the physical challenge that it promised to deliver. Oy.
Joe's blown knee wouldn't let him walk without a lot of pain and jeopardy and so he rode most of it, although I have no idea how in the hell.
roofing scene in Shawshank Redemption.
But in one of the weirdest coincidences in the history of the universe, two bike riders showed up at about the same time that Ward and Randy were planting the stash. These, to hear Ward tell it, were older guys on older rigid MTB's, and they were true, 'bikepackers' in the sense that they were carrying pretty much nothing on their bikes and everything in bigtime real backpacks. The 'weirdest coincidences' statement has to do with the fact that NO ONE rides bikes out here. Until we met up with Megan and Steve at the end of Day Three, we hadn't seen a soul on the road. (Well, we did see one guy in a truck, but he didn't count, 'cause he was in a truck. ;-)
So when we got to the bottom of the Brushy, Ward went to retrieive the duffel and the first thing he noticed was that the cord had been cut and re-tied. Not good. Then, when he go into the bag, he found that 7 of the beers had been stolen, and only four 16 oz PBR's had been spared. Dirty, lowdown, mofu, beer-snob, THIEVES! Whatya gonna do, though? Such is life in the desert.
So what should have been a pretty amazing campsite vibe was pretty damned subdued. It wasn't just me . . . everyone, I think, was feeling the toll of the day. I crawled into my tent at 7:30. I don't think anyone else was that far behind me. I didn't think the low point of the day before could be topped, but apparently it had been.