10 o’clock at night, standing alone on the bank of the Colorado River in full flood stage. Can I swim across? Theoretically, yes. Emotionally, no. I conducted an inventory of my emotional reserves and made a rational decision: I’m not going. I measured, and my cajones weren’t big enough.
This trip I had brought a Space Blanket, so wrapped myself up in that and slept soundly, while learning that sleeping in a Space Blanket keeps you both remarkably warm and remarkably wet, becoming quickly soaked in your own perspiration.
Next morning I hiked upstream to allow for the fast current, eased myself into the brown water, and swam across with no incident, and without regretting the previous nights decision. I busted butt up Red Lake Canyon (what lake?), across the various fins and valleys the Needles are renowned for, including the infamous Elephant Hill jeep road, reaching Squaw Flat Campground by mid-morning where I had a friend waiting for me with food supplies for the rest of the route.
Except instead of my friend, there was a note pinned to the campground sign which read: “You didn’t show up so I left. Hope everything is OK.”
No food and 45 more miles to go wasn’t that OK. Kaput again. Busted. Without further ado I put out my thumb and began the long hitchhike back to my car, pleased that I had extended the route, but also noticing that by failing at Spanish Bottom last year I got a direct boat ride back to the start, while failing at Squaw Flat meant it would take hours to hitch all the way around. My second ride was pretty good though, peaceful because there was no radio in the car. I asked why, and he explained he stole the car two days ago and had already sold the radio.