The second day, Harold drove us to the spot where we had stopped the previous day. It was about 6:30 a.m. and it was 91°F with a relative humidity of 48%. Thanks to a small weather station we carried, it was easy to keep track of the weather. The sun was starting to peer over the mountains but the sky was cloudy. Unlike me, Ron was quite happy with the turn of events. He is a much stronger hiker than I am; as a matter of fact, he is a long distance runner. However, he was not as prepared for the heat as I was. He had spent the two weeks preceding the walk in Stanley, Idaho, a place more frequently mentioned in the newspaper weather pages as "the coldest in the nation". The Bay Area, on the other hand, had a warmer than average July which helped me in my heat acclimatization. It is not possible to train one's body to use less water, but it is possible to make the sweat glands work more efficiently. Evaporating sweat cools the body and the acclimatization process involves subjecting the body to profuse sweating. That can be accomplished either by exercising in a desert environment or by exercising in more moderate climates wearing layers of clothing. About 15 sessions of 90 to 120 minutes each in the month preceding the exposure are required for optimum acclimatization.
By 1 p.m., the temperature had climbed to just 103°F and we were already past Stovepipe Wells, elevation +5 ft. We were ascending the long uphill towards Townes Pass. We ended the day at the Wildrose turnoff after climbing just over 2,000 ft. In Death Valley, the temperature is usually three to five degrees F cooler for every 1,000 ft. rise in elevation. It was clear that we were spared the extreme heat of the Valley.
Our third day was dramatically different. At 6:30 a.m., the sky was blue and the sun was bright. But the temperature at this higher elevation was a pleasant 72°F and even though it was uphill, we were enjoying our walk. Our routine was for Ron and I to walk the first six or seven miles together. However, once we reached the first stop, at the support car, the difference in our philosophy became apparent. Ron would get water, grab some food and was on his way again in just a few minutes. He wanted to spend as little time as possible in the heat and sun. I, on the other hand, spent at least 15 minutes to eat, drink and take some rest. Ron was worried about heat and I was worried about my stamina, and we both did what we each thought was necessary to complete the walk. A typical 24-mile day took Ron about eight hours and me, ten.
I was a few hours into the walk when a car stopped and the driver inquired if I was headed for Mt. Whitney. Yesterday, a couple of cars had stopped and asked if I needed any help, but this man's question took me by surprise. Coincidentally, he and a friend had attempted a walk similar to ours a few years ago. Though they were walking in the cooler month of September, his friend had quit on the second day.