What do you do when there is 50 miles in between two towns. After coming down from the mountains and into Utah, the land changed. For miles in every direction was nothing. The state highway extended as far as you could see. At least with the Great Plains, there was always some way of getting shade whether that be a ditch off the side of the road, a forgotten structure, or in the middle of a corn field. Out here, the only moments of shade came at a hopeful rest stop that you always thought was to good to be true. Since there was no humidity, pouring some water on your head is enough to cool you down for a quick minute. At least James had so much water with him, dehydration didn't have to be the biggest concern. Staying mentally tough was. The first few sections of Utah were not that bad. There was always a few campgrounds close or a National Forest that were being heavily occupied for Labor Day weekend. It was not until after Salt Lake City that it all took a turn.
James remembers a moment sitting in a motel room figuring out what to do. He is in the suburbs of Salt Lake City staring into his map. What separates him from Nevada? The Salt Flats. A 100 mile stretch of interstate he was going to have to walk. The only surroundings on this road are uninhabitable land covered in salt with a light blanket of smoke from grass fires coming over the mountains. There was nothing else to do besides prepare and get ready to wake up at 2am to start walking.
The goal was set; turn this 100 mile stretch into two days. James is so close to being done, he can not stop now. He literally can't, since there is little chance of survival being out here alone for more then 5 days. The benefit of the desert is that it is cold in the mornings, but it was still the summer. The high of the day always reached 98. The first day out, the first few hours flew by. Everything seemed fine, but no cars decided to stop. The feeling of being on an interstate rather then a state highway or country road felt different. No one is waving or caring. They want to get through this stretch as fast as they can. After walking without stopping for over 12 hours, a bridge presented itself giving him the chance to rest. James laid under the bridge in what shade he could get happy for each car that past him because it came with a nice breeze.Once the temperature dropped, he started to cover as much ground as he could until it was time to set up camp. For camp, he just walked out into the Salt Flats, pitched his tent, and almost immediately fell asleep. The realization was hitting him hard that tomorrow is going to be the same exact day. Another realization came when he realized all 450 miles of Nevada was going to be like this.
After 5 days of walking 50 miles continually, James was ready to collapse. He was tired, broken down, and feeling lost. He has had to drink a good portion of the 10 gallons of water. The next stretch in between towns is 120 miles. At 2:30 am while standing in full gear at the edge of town and the first step of mile 1 of 120, he broke down. His breathing accelerated, he could not see clearly in front of him, he felt scared. What has this trip turned into? Yes, this is an adventure but its more of a charity event and for the people of Tanzania. No one has seen me, stopped to talk to me, or asked if he was okay. The trip feels compromised and self-centered. James is now doing this to survive. He headed back to figure out what to do.
The decision was to change the route. If he adds miles in California to make up for the missed distance, he can have the chance to talk to more people. This adds a whole loop around Lake Tahoe and a loop around the San Francisco Bay. Not only are these areas heavily populated, they were not going to be part of the trip originally. Excited for this new portion, he accepted a ride to Reno where he got ready to go up and over the Sierra Mountains.