That’s 450 calories of instant oatmeal that was my breakfast for the day. It was a mistake.
We started the Navajo Knobs hike at 7:30, fully aware that the hike was going to be very exposed but hoping that the angle of the sun and the morning temperatures were going to spare us a solar wrath. We were going to hike to the Navajo Knobs, two geologic formations nearly five miles out along the cliff bluffs that ran along the northern central portion of Capital Reef. It was 4.7 miles straight up getting there and 4.7 miles down coming back.
I’m 6’2”, about 265 pounds, and a dumb ass. The hike was primarily slick rock going up with some areas having quarter mile long slick rock fields that even at eight in the morning felt like a small broiler plate. I actually felt fine until near the top of the knobs when it started to get really difficult to ascend to the very top. Once I got there I felt fine but my wife noticed that something was off. I was nibbling on some beef jerky and drinking a ton of water but I didn’t seem to have my energy up. She tried to get me to eat a protein bar and more jerky but I wasn’t hungry and just wanted to start the decent. I was already too tired for the hike I was doing.
And it was getting hot.
And 450 calories.
The decent started down the slick rock. Believe it or not the decent is harder than the climb as the stress on the knees and the focus on where you step is a lot sharper. We had to got down four long slick rock decents with some minor ups along the cliff face. The first one was ok. I was feeling the breeze, my camel packet was keeping me going, and I was enjoying the feeling of going downhill. Then we hit a tiny uphill.
My God it felt long. And steep.
My body didn’t feel right.
Holy hell I have a long way to go.
We rounded the first cliff bend near a radio tower and I was tired. Really tired. My wife was doing just fine and I was trying to play the macho face because I couldn’t get why my wife was doing great and I was struggling so damn much.
Second major slick rock decent. I was doing ok but the grind is starting to make my legs feel like rubber. That’s ok, I’ll handle it. I’m now starting to look farther down the trail and thinking about the distance. Actually I’m trying not to. We hit the second minor up.
Why is this so damn hard?
My wife is way ahead of me.
How much water do I have left in my camel pack?
I don’t understand why this is so hard.
We stop at the Rim Overlook, which means we have 2.4 miles to go. I have to stop. I’m feeling totally out of sorts and I can’t figure out why, although my wife is telling me to eat something. I just want water. It’s so hot.
We start on the third decent that is partial slick rock and partial rocky trail. I’m wobbly. I’m hot. I’m starting to have thoughts of stopping a whole lot but I don’t want to disappoint my wife who looks back at me a lot more often. My breath is starting to feel really hot coming out of my nostrils. The back of my neck feels like it is conducting the sun. I’m a tad dizzy and really tired. About half way down we stop and I sit in some shade. My camel pack runs out. We had just passed the Hickman Natural Bridge Overlooks so we have about a mile left. We start up again.
I’m starting to feel nauseous.
I’m angry at myself for feeling this way so I press through it.
My camel pack runs out of water. I have three extra bottles but it still feels like the end of the world.
We hit a wash which requires us to go down and then up, and the up seems like a cliff. It’s only about fifty feet. I stumble down into the wash and the climb out seems like an eternity.
At the top I get nauseous again and crazy dizzy.
What the hell?
I tell my wife I need to rest, only about a 1/4 mile from the car. I sit on a rock and start guzzling water, shaking my head at why my body is reacting so poorly. My wife is now shading me while reminding me that I had only 450 calories this morning and I refuse to eat. She’s seems genuinely concerned while being genuinely irritated that I’m a stubborn mule.
I get up and head down the final 1/4 mile almost in a daze. It’s a lot of slick rock stairs and I’m trying to maintain balance while wanting the air conditioning of the car.
We make it to the car and open the back. My wife is pouring water over my neck while asking me if I want her to start the car and get the air conditioning running. I stagger into the car and turn it on myself. I do the driving back to the cabin but the whole 15 minute trip seems in slow motion. Once in the cabin I hit a cool shower, eat some food, and rest for about 15 minutes as my body comes back to normal.
I have no idea what happened. It was mid-morning and the temperature could not have been much more than 90 degrees at the worst at the end of that hike. I’ve hiked in much worse. My wife said that it was a little heat mixed with not enough food and a lot of dumb assery. She probably has the diagnosis correct. We drove back to the cabin were I took a cool shower and rested a bit under a fan until I felt back to normal.
We drove out later in the afternoon to look at some petroglyphs and I felt fine. Man, what a day.
Hikes: Navajo Knobs
Miles hiked: 9.4