Death Valley, Saline Valley Road, Lowest to Highest Route 2015
It’s Saturday, so retirees in camper vans stop to see what I’m up to and offer me water. “No thanks, but how bout a soda?” No one has soda. One guy gives me a Nature’s Valley bar. A handsome older couple take my empty water jugs. They look like they shop at co-ops and the woman buys fancy soaps that smell like mint and sage and lavender. I smell like a taco truck.
I’ve got 5 liters in my backpack and two 1 gallon jugs in both hands. Last year I carried only 6 liters for this 45 mile waterless stretch, and had to ask the Cerro Gordo ghost town caretaker (Robert) for an extra liter–abashedly.
I drink and piss and drink some more and piss some more and I’m so proud of myself for staying hydrated instead of doing the cottonmouth dance. Really I’m just tired of carrying these water jugs; they are cutting into my fingers which have formed into claws. I must look ridiculous but, “I’ve done this before” I explain to a man who tells me from his truck “This is not the way to Whitney.” Yes yes it is, just a long drawn out sort of way.
“Well where ya headed tonight?”
“Cerro Gordo ghost town.”
He’s really laughing now. “That’s not a real town!”
“Yes I know, it’s an abandoned ghost town.”
Before driving away he tells me I look like a Mexican immigrant. Which is a compliment. Does he know that?
This is fun for me, to bewilder men.