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The Hour of The Lizard

Day one.


My alarm startled me awake and I frantically turned it off so not to wake Sleuth or anyone else.


Scout and Frodo have a very strict schedule for us hikers, and I had 30 minutes to get my shit together and be ready for breakfast. Except when I finally got down there to eat, I didn’t have an appetite. I stared at my plate of oats, fruit, and muffin and felt more like throwing up than eating. Where did that ferocious need to consume that I had yesterday go? I didn’t even want the coffee (in that defense it wasn’t very good coffee. Sorry guys I’m spoiled by Portland java). I guiltily dropped half of my plate into the compost bin and slipped outside.

We piled our packs into cars, all 20 of us. It’s an hour and a half drive from University City to Campo down a small highway surrounded by round, golden hills. The sun was bright on the horizon and I felt sick.

Perhaps it was the silence and tension of the ride, as when we finally arrived and made our way up the hill to the terminus, those ill feelings were gone and I wanting nothing more than to walk. If you do nothing with your body, your mind picks up the slack. If you’re doing something with your body, you’ve got no time or energy to bother with thoughts.

We got up there, we took pictures, I almost fell off, and we got going. It’s time I start my thru hike.

The sun was still rising (it was 7am), and our shadows were long. After maybe 2 miles I had to stop and strip my base layers off. I was already soaked with sweat. Not much longer after that, I had to use my inhaler for the first time.

We found a small stream and rested for a bit, watering up. But soon after we left the stream I started to feel sick. My heart pounds in my head and I felt dizzy and like I needed to throw up. Seriously? Was the first stream everyone hit contaminated??


I rested behind a boulder. The sun was high and it was scorching. I checked the time. 10am. What the fuck. A) it’s early in the day and I’m already melting, how will I do when it’s high noon? B) it’s SPRING. I’ll be in the Mojave in less than 30 days.

I’m going to die.

I stayed behind that boulder until my head stopped pounding, but within a few yards I was miserable again.

Evan was not far ahead, waiting for me under another boulder. I rested here for another 10 minutes, applying a cold rag to my neck.

We walked a bit more, and when speaking to another hiker, she said that the hottest part of the day is 11 to 2. Hot damn. Screw this, we’re going to SIESTA.

It was a shitty siesta: our tarp wasn’t long enough to block the sun, and we were baking. Evan went up the trail to check out a water source and came back quickly to sweep me away to a watery heaven. Huge boulders lined a fast flowing stream of cold water. HALLELUJAH. Good timing too, because I was struck with a migraine.


5 hours and 7 different hikers later, we moved on. The headache pills I took gave me a big boost of caffeine and I flew down the rest of the trail. Our aim was Hauser Mountain to camp for the night. It was just 5 miles and we got there swiftly. Dinner was great; red curry lentils with EXTRA hot sauce.

The air was cool.

Until the huge fucking ants started crawling out of the rocks and biting us.

I don’t think we’ll ever set up our tent that fast again.

And although I had originally insisted on staying up to see the stars, I fell asleep immediately.

I know I said my sleeping pad wasn’t that comfortable, but let’s be real.

I slept like a god damned baby.


Day 2


We must have slept in, because the sun was already up by the time I opened my eyes. I checked the time, 7:30. Uhg. We broke camp, chatting with our camp mates (Frog, Brittany, Mike, and Tiffany), and started on our way. Joe arrived late last night and had to camp on the trail, but at least it seemed wide enough here.

Evan commented that sometime in the night he heard a group of people running down the trail speaking in hushed voices. Immigrants, probably.

I was in a mood. Aren’t I always in a mood? I’m just not a morning person, apparently, but maybe I’m just an asshole all the time.

9 o’clock is now deemed the hour of the lizard, as this is when all the little lizards come out to find their breakfast before the snakes find theirs. While road walking before Hauser Creek, Evan spotted a Diamondback in the grass. He always seems to spot the wildlife when I seem to be oblivious and step over them. I took some photos and we inched around it. For the next mile to the creek, we moved slowly and warily around rocks.



The creek was great, if you don’t mind tons of flies and mosquitoes. We set up a small day camp to wait out the heat, and it took Evan over an hour to figure out he had bug spray. He offered some to Brittany and she snatched it from him and applied liberally with a sigh of relief. 

Despite the relaxing atmosphere, we began to bicker. I’m micromanaging things again–a known issue–and I denied like always. I’ve got to figure my shit out.

We hiked out of the creek, probably a little too early. It was hot hot hot, and steep steep steep. Before we left I used my inhaler, to help me power through it, but I don’t think it worked. My chest was tight, and I was gasping for air. The heat baked my skin. Everyone around me seemed fine and I felt defective.

Thinking about it, I figure I wasn’t actually having an asthma attack, which are described as the inflammation of the airways and the inability to exhale. I could inhale and exhale just fine, my chest was just so tight I couldn’t get it in. My heart was racing and pounding real hard. The conclusion I’m coming to is that I probably have a weak heart. Dammit. I was supposed to get this all figured out before we started. Hopefully as the rest of my body gets stronger, my heart won’t have to work so hard

Until then, I’ll be doing my uphill climbs VERY slowly, as in hike 30 steps, catch my breath, hike another 30, catch my breath. I did this for the rest of the mountain and I didn’t have another attack. Seems to work for me.

Soon enough we were at the Lake Mirena campground, and pigging out on veggie burgers, fries, and onion rings. I bought an apple juice and I must have screwed the cap on badly because I set the bag down for a second and suddenly it was sitting in a puddle. Dammit.

We forgot our headlamps when we went to the Deli, so we wandered back in the light of the crescent moon.

I did not quite sleep like a baby that night, courtesy of some chatty coyotes, turkeys, and hound dogs, but I slept well nonetheless.