Archive for May, 2012

We all spent that night sleeping in a ditch next to Hwy 2.  Before going to bed, we ate at the picnic tables, took advantage of the poopers with free tp, and made a discrete fire tucked back near some trees despite a blatantly obvious “no campfires” sign.  It was freezing; the wind whipped and it might have been 40 degrees then and began to steadily drop at night.  One car seemed to come and go quite frequently with a large camera and huge binoculars.

That night was super cold.  I had several layers on and put my thick New Zealand wool socks on and wrapped the bottom of my sleeping bag in a trash bag.  In the middle of the night, I still had to wrap my feet in my puff coat…they were cold again an hour later.

In the morning, Shags came over and asked if the ranger came to us too.  Confused, Dead Animal and I shook our heads only to have Inspector Gadget and Hop-a-long groan from their tents that a ranger had come.

“You guys slept straight through it!” Inspector said.  “He came here first and shone bright lights at our tents and asked us for ID.  Apparently that odd couple in the car were bird watchers who told the cops there were people rummaging through backpacks.”

“They talked to me about the campfire,” Shags said.  “The guy was cool though; he asked if we would be warm enough without it and then asked us to put it out.”

“Did you guys sleep through the dirt bikes too?” Hop-a-long asked.

“I heard them peal out,” I said

“You could hear them going all the way to 5th gear,” Dead Animal said.

“Yeah, well they almost peed into our ditch until one went ‘whoa! Dude! There’s people down there!” Inspector imitated a stoner voice.  “Pretty sure they were drunk too.”

We got a super late start at 8:30 a.m. Just in time for a 1000 ft climb.  Good morning trail!  Up, over and onto the 4th crossing of Hwy 2.  Where we slept in the ditch was the official detour around the yellow-legged frog mating, but that was a 20 mile detour for 4 PCT miles.  Yeah, right…

We did another up and over to the 5th road crossing where the old detour started: the walk, the damn road detour.  Sitting there, we decided road walking sucked, so we began walking and kept throwing our thumbs out.  As the pavement continued, our feet began to hurt, but nothing except motorcycles passed us.

In the end, we ended up walking two road miles to a campground where we yogi’ed a ride from some day walkers to a biker restaurant down the road a bit further called Newcomb Ranch.  There we ate lunch as a large hiker herd (about 11 of us) road walked and got a ride there, including Barracuda and Sparrow…Barracuda is 7 years old….

Lunch, 4 beers, and 2 shots each, we left with a six-pack to begin hitching.  With a 7-year-old, we got a ride easily from some super awesome people in a large vehicle driven by Kristi.  We went back to the 6th crossing of Hwy 2 instead of that campground which had a few mile side trail back to the PCT.


We only had a few miles to mile 400 which we celebrated for quite a while on the side of the trail there.  Someone had made a large “400” in rocks and we took a slew of pictures.  After drinking some of the six-pack, we moved on downhill to water, then further on to the Three Points trail head.

Picnic tables reeled us in with a cooler full of trail magic soda and some water.  Dan, the trail runner, trail magic’ed us some Tecates to keep the beat strong and we camped there, by the side of the road under a tree.

Deciding to get serious, we began hiking early in the morning.  We did discover that camping near picnic tables and poopers significantly slowed us down in the mornings trying to get out.  We went up and up and oh yeah, more up.

By mile 413, we faced yet another detour…this time for poodle dog bush: renamed devil bush.  Basically, an area of land burns, then poodle dog bush takes over and spreads like wildfire.  It especially likes to grow smack dab in the middle of the trail.  The plant actually looks really pretty with sweet-smelling purple blooms, but it’s more like a poison apple of death that entices you into getting a big fat emergency room bill.

The first part of the detour took us down a dirt road about the same distance as the trail was, but the road took us down the other side of the ridge down to a fire ranger station.  Right above the station was an outhouse with a spigot next to it and a large water tank to provide shade.  The whole group posted up there for a while, even Neon and On-a-move stayed for a while as we all sat and ate as much as possible from our food bags.

When the sun had stopped sizzling our skin, we began again.  The worst of the poodle dog was supposed to be at mile 425 and then between 428 and 430, so Hop-a-long and I tried to go on the trail between miles 419 and 421 instead of walking the paved road recommended detour.  We just really did not want to walk on pavement, but the trail had quite a lot of sand going up then dove through some pretty bad poodle dog bush.  Some of it was not too bad, but there were a few parts where one of us had to use our poles to hold it for the other.  A few other times, on a contour, we would have to shimmy down a little bit to go below the poodle dog bush in the trail, but above the layer beneath.  This was more challenging because usually the sandy eroded shit would not hold your feet, so you had to walk faster to avoid your footing giving way, but not fast enough to carelessly bash into the devil bush.


Needless to say, we walked the damn paved road after that as recommended because that wasn’t supposed to be the worst of it.  Several miles later, we decided to look for a place to crash when we came up on a burned and abandoned fire station.  Naturally, we thought it was the coolest thing ever and slept in the destroyed hand ball court.  It was super creepy…right out of a horror movie…large group…could pick us off one by one, but no, we were fine, all six of us.

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We managed to have quite a bit of fun in Wrightwood.  Probably too much fun.  Safari, Shags, and Drop Zone had gotten ahead of us and we heard tell from some Canadians that Drop Zone had gotten a ride from the water cache to Wrightwood.  When we finally got a ride down, we fit Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget and me in a hybrid with our packs and we went straight to the Mexican restaurant for Margaritas.  With two double shot margaritas and large portions of Mexican food in our bellies, we found Safari and Shags who had gotten a room at the Pines Motel.  They gave us word on Drop Zone who had apparently just hiked out with another girl and didn’t sobo back to the water cache.

The Pines Motel had plenty of character and great service, but the shower didn’t drain, the TV did not change channels, and we put 5 people in a 3 person room.  We stayed in town to celebrate Safari’s 21st birthday. Our goal: make him puke.

We started with beer and white russians with almond milk then progressed to the Racoon Saloon for tequila shots and jukebox entertainment. When we got back to the room, our goal became fulfilled.

We attempted to get moving in the morning, but all we could motivate to do was head down the street to the Grizzly Cafe and eat extremely large breakfasts.  Safari had called to ask specifically if they had Belgian waffles with fruit and they did.

Food comas set in so we went back to bed for nap time.  Jay, the motel manager, knocked on our door at 10:45 to tell us check out was at 11am.  We packed up and then looked outside.  An evil dark cloud of death was descending from the mountains where we wanted to go and the wind blasted us so hard the trees pelted us with pinecones.  We later found out the snow level had dropped to 7000 feet and there were hurricane force winds going on up there.

We moved to a bigger room and fit more people in it.  It’s super helpful when sleazy motels are run by hikers.  They try to give you the lowest rate for the most people and do your laundry for free.  Our second room had more character than the last and even included brick paneling.

Lounging all day took work.  We got some free coffee/tea from the local coffee shop, resupplied, went through hiker boxes and drank beer.  Major Upchuck came over and hung out, getting fake tattoos and shot-gunning beers with us for a while.  Then, out of nowhere, Hop-a-long found Peter wandering around outside so we took him in and immediately put beer in his hand.

We did manage to get the 6:30ish am shuttle that the motel ran for free.  I wished I had more layers that day.  I huddled under a large bush while waiting for everyone to come up in 3s.

The first five miles were fine except for the wind and the general coldness.  It really wouldn’t have been that bad except I’d gotten used to 85 to 105 degrees and when we got dropped off, it was a whopping 29 degrees.  Then the trail did this annoying thing that trails do of going to 7500 feet only to drop 1000 feet and then gain 3000 feet.

We all stopped at the second road crossing of Hwy 2 at the base of the Baden-Powell trailhead.  As we ate a snack huddled together and used the privy, we attempted to look pathetic to see if the hoards of people in the parking lot would give us any food or anything hot.  They didn’t.

It was then that it hit us that it was not only Saturday, but Memorial Day weekend Saturday.  Hello headphones!  We probably saw 150 people on one side of the mountain. Day walkers, boy scouts, crazy trail runners.  The boy scouts were the most annoying; they didn’t yield to packs going uphill, they completely ignored the small group hiker etiquette, they cut switchbacks, and hell knows what else.

We met a section hiker, Shaka Zulu, who sang a wee song that amused us.  Safari and Shags skipped the side trail to the summit while Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Hop-a-long, Bolt, and I went to the top and drank our last two beers and Bolt provided some whiskey.

If the morning was slow, the afternoon was slower.  My energy had been zapped between climbing and answering the same usual day walker questions over and over despite the obvious headphones (i.e. leave me alone sign).  Yes, I am walking to Canada.  Yes, I started in Mexico.  No, I don’t have a job. Yes, I sleep outside. Blah blah blah.

By the afternoon, the sun had partially come out and there it might have gotten up to the low 50s, but as soon as the cloud that usually seemed to mysteriously stay to one side of the ridge tried to creep over, it got cold.  The trail weaved over the ridge and in and out of the cloud.

Dead Animal and Inspector Gadget convinced Hop-a-long to make them quesadillas while Inspector hatched a plan to go to town for pizza, despite having left town that morning after a zero.  He blazed ahead six miles to the 3rd crossing of Hwy 2.

Hop-a-long, Dead Animal and I got water from Little Jimmie Spring and pondered the maps and all the information we had on the up coming detour which had to by-pass 4 PCT miles for the breeding of a yellow-legged frog.


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We got sucked into the interstate pass by fast food and a hot tub.  We started out getting a room at the Best Western to wait out the heat, take showers and sit in the hot tub.  Then we discovered the Game of Thrones episode we missed on Sunday was going to come on at 11pm.  I hatched a plan to leave afterwards but that didn’t happen and neither did 5 a.m.  Instead, we drank two 18 racks, hung out in the hot tub and ate Del Taco with a side of Subway. image

Game of Thrones was so worth it, then we passed out.  After a feeble attempt to wake up and leave at 5 am, we ended up getting hotel breakfast at 6 a.m. which had already been severely picked over. Then we went back to sleep or tried to go back to sleep.  Drop Zone had taken over one bed snoring, so we made a cuddle puddle in the other one in the meantime while we procrastinated for several more hours.  Eventually, we managed to leave at 12:30: i.e. the worst time ever to start hiking, let alone climbing in the heat.  We had an illusions that it wasn’t as bad as normal because the freeway traffic created its own wind combined with the smog coming over from Los Angeles.  Thank you for your smog that kept the sun exposure down a bit.  Actually, as soon as we left the freeway wind, it was hot.

After five miles of intense sweating, we got to the cache that Shags had texted us was full.  The best part: we found some chairs and a table and we moved them into the shade.  Baboon hiked with us a bit that day and he had two decks of cards.  Naturally, we played rummy, drank the rest of the beer we had packed up, and took a 3 hour break.

At 5:30 we decided it had cooled down enough to hike, so we began with music.  Everyone had their headphones in that day…22 miles without water and 6000+ feet of climbing to Wrightwood.  We went up and up and up until we hit a dirt road.

There, we paused and decided to take the recommended detour to avoid the all-consuming poodle dog bush which was “barely avoidable” according to the water report.  It was cool in its own way because we could walk 4 wide and blast music off of Inspector Gadget’s phone.  Inspector Gadget and Dead Animal decided since girls apparently don’t poop, we pee rainbows.

We walked around 3 of 4 miles of the detour and passed out on a side pull-off cowboy camping.  It took us awhile to avoid the glass shards all around, but we found spots.

I ignored my alarm for half an hour in the morning by rolling over on my watch alarm to silence it since I couldn’t think enough to hit the off button.  Despite the later start, we got moving and kept moving.  Our large group had decreased to 4 people.

The first 10 miles of the day wasn’t bad, but after a while, my legs just didn’t want to move uphill.  Luckily there was a blanket of clouds that covered the entire valley a few thousand feet below which gave me added entertainment.  The music pushed me through it fairly well.  We passed the Canadians, Julia and Brian who told us that Drop Zone had gotten a hitch into Wrightwood from the cache, missing some 4500ish ft of climbing.  Damn.

We got to the water at Guffy Campground which was a bit downhill but so worth it for the beautiful piped spring.  After an hour break and watching Dead Animal attempt to eat hiker box “100% natural white chicken cuts” which smelled like cat food, we hiked onward with nothing motivating us but Margaritas.

Route 2 was a bit of a hard hitch since there was almost no traffic.  We had to wait about 45 minutes when we got the 5th car to pick up Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, and me in a hybrid.

And then we found this:

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Inspector Gadget and Safari figured out that about 5 miles from the day walker gathering spot was a gas station, so they hitched in for some booze since we were out.  Naturally, we couldn’t go to hot springs without booze.  We waited for them just off the trail in a pavilion where we used the parking lot’s privy and disposed of our trash in the trash bins.

In the meantime, a few other hikers passed through.  One of which I recognized instantly and began laughing, “well if it isn’t Insane Duane!” I shouted.

“Hey Veggie!” Duane laughed, “I told you last year I’d see you here !  Mouse is right behind too!”

Mouse came up a few moments later and we got to catch up for a bit.  I met Mouse back in Georgia on the AT and he got ahead of me in the Smoky Mountains.  They were both trying to speed hike the PCT, so I knew I wouldn’t see either of them again.  Mouse explained why Insane Duane had two backpacks on in one sentence: “he got used to carrying one in front on the CDT and just got used to it, figuring it would make him stronger…its Insane Duane…”

Inspector Gadget and Safari managed to get back at 5:15 where we drank a tall boy and got ready to move.  We made bets on how long it would take Dead Animal to eat half a rotisserie chicken.  He made it in about 3 or 4 minutes.

Ignoring the detour, which we heard from High Life and trail angels we shouldn’t take, we set off contouring the canyon wall about 100-200 feet above Deep Creek below.  A few times, the trail slid down the side and we could only get one foot placed at a time.  At those points the trail maybe was five inches wide or so.

Before we knew it, we annihilated three miles and hit the 300 mile mark! Woohoo! We celebrated safely on a wider section of trail and took some pictures.  I was really glad we did this section late since there would have been absolutely no shade.  We played a game with the setting sun of chasing it around the corners of the contours, almost jogging at times.  Motivated, we did those ten miles in just over three hours with two small breaks.

Shags had gotten to the Hot Springs which were conveniently about 50 ft off trail before we had even left the bridge.  He had found Drop Zone who had somehow gotten ahead of us by skipping 20 miles somewhere.  I couldn’t quite follow his explanation while my stomach raged with hunger from not really eating dinner.  We found a sandy, beachy spot and laid out our stuff in a line, eating some dinner and beginning the magical night of camaraderie in the hot springs.

We found our way around ok in the dark and enjoyed some wonderfully naturally hot pools.  Since it was Saturday night, all the locals were raging down there too, who had come in off a side trail.  Everyone got on edge when a long stream of headlamps began coming down the hill late.  We feared they were rangers coming to bust up the party, but it turned out to be about 20 locals with lasers celebrating a birthday.

Forgetting water, we eventually couldn’t take the heat of the pools and retreated to our cowboy camping sandy beach location where we stayed up talking about aliens, Edgar Cayce, the pyramid of Giza (which we determined that aliens had created using lasers), and many other things until about 2:30-3 a.m.  We lamented the fact that at that time, the big dipper was getting closer and closer to the ridge which meant that the sun would come up soon.

Waking up sweating to the sun scorching us in our sleeping bags, we got out of bed at 7:45 and moved to shade while we made breakfast and then got back in the hot pools.  We drank the rest of the vodka we had and then a very large naked man gave us some long island ice tea.  Switching between the hot pools and the creek, Safari scared a large rattle snake, we found a rope swing and watched Carpenter and Cheesecake race, swimming on their Thermarests.

Lunch and naps in the shade followed since we heard we wouldn’t find shade for about 6 miles, we didn’t fight the sun and stayed.  We headed out right before the solar eclipse started so we attempted to watch it as we contoured the rest of the valley.  On the way, we ran into more than enough locals.

After fording the creek, we hit a water cache on highway 173 and began climbing.  After about 8 miles, we found a large bluff to the side of the trail and crashed out, tired from our strenuous day of swimming and napping.

Motivation came in the morning at 5am when we woke up and got moving to beat some heat.  At these lower elevations, the heat comes in fast and furious, forcing us into shade early to not hallucinate.  We got about 10 miles in the morning before we hit a lake with small pavilions meant for boats.  The trail circled the lake for a good while, probably so we could stare at it green with envy.  A few times, I almost veered off trail to jump in the lake, but I resisted.  The temptation to swim across it came on strong as well.  I remembered Insane Duane’s idea of putting the pack in a trash bag and swimming across Twin Lakes.  I kicked myself in not getting a dollar store floaty.

Hop-a-long and I veered off and as I wrote Dead Animal and Inspector Gadget a note, Shags veered down.  I immediately dove in the dirty lake and proceeded to stay there for about half an hour or as long as I thought I could without getting burned.  Everyone else came down and in too.

“Guys,” Inspector started.  “I don’t have much food and no more dinners.”

“Didn’t you just cook dinner at 9 am?” I asked

“Yeah, I think I’m going to town,” he said.

“We could pool some food,” Dead Animal said.

“Nooo, I think I’m going to town.”

At that point there was no talking him out of it.  Instead we all pitched in for beer and pizza.  Since we had reception, he said he’d call later.  We took naps in the meantime and cooked up some lunch.  When Inpector called us, he told us to meet him under the overpass around 4:45.

We hiked the two miles or so and got to the overpass around 5pm.  Only Neon and On-the-go sat underneath it who had pitched in as well.  We had to continually move further up underneath to stay in the shade.  Eventually a truck with a bike on the back came down and Neon called it that it was Inspector who managed to hitch back with not only his backpack, but also with three pizzas and a styrofoam cooler full of beer.

Another two hours under the overpass, Cheesecake, Dots, Waffles, and Jesse passed as well as Julia and Brian.  We debated about staying there under the overpass for the night, but then decided to hike on a bit.  Being so full, we got to the top of the climb and slept on an old jeep road.

In the morning, we got up early and hiked 10 miles to Cajon pass by 9:30 a.m.

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We mananged to get about 2.5 miles out of town – a good thing for us.  It’s a whole different ball game when you wake up the next morning in the woods as opposed to a motel.  In a motel, you wake up late, get breakfast, a late check out, maybe lunch, then before you know it, it’ll be afternoon, whereas in the woods, you wake up early and just start walking.  Hence the awesomeness of the nero out of town.

A wind advisory came out over where we were hiking from 8pm that night til 5 or 6 in the morning.  That was spot on.  Inspector Gadget set up his tent, but he had to take it down eventually because the wind was too bad.  We could tell we were close to town because we still had cell service.  We drank some beer by the picnic table and fell asleep to 50 mph wind gusts.

The wind woke me up several times that night and we all seemed to have an unspoken agreement to ignore our impulses to get up and slept in until 6:30 a.m.  We started the morning with a beer and packed up to go.

Before we knew it, we’d done somewhere between 6.5 and 7 miles to the next water source at Van Dusen Rd.  None of us quite believed that or the fact that we did a 1000 ft climb already in two hours.  Naturally, we took an hour and a half break because we could.  We stretched and ate and ate some more.  Eventually, Inspector Gadget made it too, despite not feeling too great.

The day, for once, never got too terribly, unbearibly hot so we could hike right through the heat of the day.  We cruised right through the day without noticing how fast we actually went.  Much of the day, we somehow kept up 3 mph.

We stopped for dinner near the trail camp with the shitter which we all used except Safari.  Just as we left, Gadget caught up again.  We managed another two miles then dry camped up on the ridge instead of down by the cold creek.

The morning was super cold and I had one of those times where I ate breakfast in my sleeping bag and then just sat there and stared at my stuff hoping it would magically pack itself.  Eventually, I got it together and started walking.  The first ten miles went by pretty quickly in the morning.  Until I hit 17 boy scouts who I thought had scarecrows attached to their packs.  Some of them were half my size with double the amount of shit with them.  The first group huffed and puffed, “Are there any flat spots up there?”

“For all of you…maybe in 3 miles.”

The second group ignored me completely.  The third wave of them asked me where I was going.  “Canada,” I said.

“No shit,” said the adult.

When we got to the Deep Creek bridge, we went down to Safari and ate lunch in the shade.  All the thruhikers were in the shade and all the day walkers were in the sun.  We compared notes on the boy scouts.  Dead Animal had told them 2 miles to the flat spot and Hop-a-long had said about 1 mile.

“I totally asked them how far to the bridge and they said anywhere from 1 to 4 miles.  Oddly enough, the groups farther back told me the longer distances,” Hop-a-long said.

“Is this the way to the hot springs?” A day walker asked with nothing but a beach chair on her back.

“No, it’s that way.  It’s about 10 miles though,” Dead Animal said.

“They said it was five miles round trip!” The day walker said shocked. “How do I get there?”

“…walk…” Dead Animal said after a pause.

We continued laying in the shade listening to the absurd amount of day walkers going by making an incredible amount of noise.  They seemed to increase in number during the hottest portion of the day.  The five of us, Shutter Bird, and four Israelis were all napping, eating, or enjoying the shade while all the day walkers hiked and complained about the heat. Hmmmm.

“Shit! Kids going in the water source!” Hop-a-long jumped up to get water before they went in.

“There’s already kids in the creek, look,” Dead Animal said.


The little kids walkd downstream in bathing suits with their dad.

“Daddy, I have to pee!” The littlest one said.

“Don’t pee in the water source, don’t pee in the water source!” I started to say since I hadn’t already gotten water.  They started walking upstream.

“She’s just going to go upstream to pee so we have to triple treat our water,”  Dead Animal commented.

A bit later we heard her screaming and crying.

“Yup. Totally peed upstream,” Dead Animal said.


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We felt lazy and Inspector Gadget felt sick, and, well, we hadn’t had any beer since 8:00 a.m. the day before, so we hitched into Big Bear City early at mile 250 on highway 38.  It was not the easiest hitch.  It took about 45 minutes to go in two groups since there were six of us.  Hop-a-long and I split to help the guys since people seem to trust girl hitch hikers more.

Eventually we got in with a truck that had an enormous husky in the backseat.  I sat with it and it honestly outweighed me, but it was a super sweet dog.  We got a room at the motel 6 and began cycles of showering and laundry.  We did get around to food, but apparently too late as everything closed around 8 or 9 at night.  The front desk guy scrambled around for us and found a Chinese place that delivered and said it was the only place open and delivering besides an expensive pizza place.  We went for it.  It sucked, but due to extreme hunger, we ate the styrofoam filled with msg.

That evening, we managed to stay up well past hiker midnight to watch the epic awesomeness that is Game of Thrones on HBO. But after that we passed out until 6 a.m. when we got up and got our slackpacks ready.  Shags, Hop-a-long and I started trying to hitch back to Rainbow Lane where we got off at mile 250 around 7:30 in the morning.  In the meantime, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, and Safari went to breakfast at the Lumberjack Cafe.

Amazingly, they finished breakfast and we were still standing there. Our next thoughts were to split a van taxi, so we called the only taxi company in town and they told us $33.  Six ways, that’s reasonable.  But then, as we waited, Safari decided to keep trying to hitch out and gets picked up by a very beat up white station wagon that had a Slipknot sticker on the back and a woman who outweighed him at least by a factor of two.  We feared for him.

When the taxi came, we got in and the dude started driving until he asked us, “Does anyone want to use an ATM?”

Now, we’re all thinking we can scrounge enough cash for $33 that we don’t need an ATM.  Inspector Gadget asked him about what the lady on the phone said about the price and the driver started flipping out because it was actually a double rate since we had more than 4 people (which we had expressly stated in the phone call).  We got out. Lucky for us, we had gotten about a half mile down the road and he dropped us at a small market that made hitching easier.

Hop-a-long and Inspector started hitching and got a ride within about 20 minutes in a white pick up.  Shags, Dead Animal and I then started hitching and picked up a ride from a super sweet woman ski instructor in about the same time.  Hitching is much easier in twos and threes.  Occasionally, four works, but rarely more than that unless everyone piles in the back of a pick-up truck.

A few miles down the road, we saw Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget hitching again.  Apparently their first ride wasn’t going as far as the Rainbow Lane, about 10 miles down the road.  We got dropped off first and walked over to the trail and sat down to wait.  Safari had blasted off.  We drank a beer while we waited and they came not too long afterward.  One of the Japanese guys came and joined us for a moment, Wanderer.

When we started hiking, we hit the animal cages where Hollywood apparently put large animals such as bears, tigers and lions.  After a few pictures and petting a 3-legged dog, we continued on down the trail.  Eventually we realized we needed to haul ass to make the post office hours to get Inspector Gadget’s laptop out of his bounce box.

The trail threw a few obstacles in our way of hauling down the trail.  First, we found Safeway brand sodas and a couch sitting on the side next to a beat up dirt road.  Naturally, we had to sit on the couch.  It’s not often such luxury just appears on the trail and thru-hikers are the laziest group of active people ever.  Then we found a picnic table at the water source at mile 256, and due to the lack of picnic tables on the trail, we stopped.

From there we did haul down the trail with our super light slackpacks.  Near the road, we saw name brand sodas from Motel 6…better than Safeway brand that Nature’s Inn left.  When we got to the road, it only took three cars before we got a ride for four of us.  Safari was nowhere to be found and Shags had gotten just slightly behind.  A super nice woman got Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget to the Post Office before it closed.  Laptop, check!

We headed to the hostel across the street as well because a few of us had packages there and we wanted to examine their hiker box.  You can find some amazing stuff in hiker boxes.  And food.  I found a disposable razor which made me super psyched.

We ended up checking out the liquor store over there on the way out and saw another group of hiker trash also making a beeline there.  Converging on the beer, we noticed it was Knees, Hollywood, Extra Credit and a few others.

From there we went to sit at the bus stop to get a ways down the road to Pongs (highly recommended restaurant).  After about five minutes of looking pathetic, a guy stopped and gave us a ride there.  Now, Pongs is a place with hiker portions.  All of us had enough food to stuff ourselves silly and have a whole other meal for breakfast.  Not long after we split into two groups to hitch back to the motel, Double Sprainbow yelled out of a car window, “Wanna hitch???”


Naturally, we fit seven people in one of those old person cop look-a-like cars.  They had rented the last car in Big Bear because they needed a zero and the town is so spread out.

Back at the Motel 6, we caught up on a Game of Thrones marathon, drank beer, and lounged.  First of all, the room did not come with an ice bucket, so we made one of the trash cans into one and kept the beer cold in it.  Second of all, we decided to be cheap and fit 6 people into one room the second night.  It was a bit cramped, but ok…we managed three of us on one double bed too.

Sleeping in, we were going nowhere fast until the sun cooled down.  We packed up, went thrift storing, and got stuff ready to either send out or put it in the hiker box.

“Anyone need hand sanitizer? I have some extra.” I said

“I’m good,” said Dead Animal.

“I have enough,” said Hop-a-long.

“Why do you guys all need hand sanitizer??” Safari asked.

“Your hands are the biggest vector of spreading germs,” I replied.

“Poop germs,” Dead Animal said.

“I only poop in town,” Safari shot back.

“That will change,” Hop-a-long laughed.

We then sat at the bus stop to get to the Post Office when a super awesome old guy named Don with at least a 6 inch beard and an 80% timber wolf in an SUV pulled over and threw all six of us with packs in the back and drove us to the Post Office and the grocery store while we stalled to escape the heat.

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Getting to the I-10 overpass, we figured out the service road we had to hitch on and thought, “oh shit, this could take a while.”  But then a car pulls over almost immediately and out pops Beardo, who apparently had some nasty stomach virus and had to get three bags of saline pumped into him.  His friend who had dropped him off gave us a ride to the Cabazon Post Office.

Yogi’s guidebook description of the town was spot on: “kinda creepy.”  We grabbed our boxes and went to the corner market to grab a snack and try to hitch to the next town over, Banning, to grab a room for the night since our knees and feet hurt after the never-ending descent from the San Jacintos.  Supposedly, a bus existed between the two towns, but no one we talked to knew where it was or could give us a straight answer, some of which was because English was clearly not their first language.


Eventually we got a ride over to the street with all the cheap motels after the van dropped a few people off at the casino and everyone seemed to call the driver “dad.”  Our “non-smoking” room definitely had a few burn holes in the carpet and one in the comforter, the toilet mostly flushed, and the TV was pretty fuzzy, but we did manage to get the Silence of the Lambs to come in clearly, so we watched that after getting amazing Thai food across the street.

The next day, we stayed until check out then wandered “downtown,” got our picture taken with a little kid who thought it was awesome to just hike all the time, then watched a $3.75 matinee of Dark Shadows…sweet movie.  Eventually, Pete met up with us (a friend from high school) who had driven over from LA.  We got more awesome Thai food and he gave us a ride over to Ziggy and the Bear’s house right off the trail and we hung out there with the other hiker trash.

They had an awesome shade set up there with chairs, an outside washing sink, clothesline, charging station, porta johns, i.e. awesomeness.  Dead Animal and Shags managed to catch up late that evening.  We spent the night there on scraps of carpet which surprisingly added a lot more comfort.  The morning scorched us from the start.  We started packing up and almost left but then Inspector Gadget and Safari (whose slave world name used to abe Ari) rolled in and we all decided it was too hot to hike out until evening.  That was our 8 a.m. decision and man was it the best decision in a while.

During the day, we snoozed, read, drank cold soda (beer was not allowed unfortunately), and played Rummy, best card game ever.  We did find a spray bottle with water which saved us from completely roasting, even sitting on our asses in the shade.  Quite literally, we sat doing nothing and we dripped with sweat, sucking down liter after liter of water.

Eventually, we did leave, although not until about 5:30 or so.  We had to go up 2,000 ft from the get-go.  Being the lazy ones we are, we found shade in a dug out by the wind farm two miles later and lightened our packs by drinking a few tall boys.

Before we knew it, we got up to the top of the first climb which took a steep turn all of a sudden right by the top.  We all, meaning: Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Shags, Safari and I, hung out at the top looking back down at the interstate below and the flashing lights of the towns.  I managed to wring out the back of my shirt which was drenched in sweat.  We got headlamps on then and meandered along the trail for another few miles.  We passed a huuuuge toad and managed to take pictures with our headlamps.

We ended up getting about 10 miles after a few shenanigans to the first water crossing where we crossed the large creek and found a flat spot in the wash on the other side and fit five of us in fairly close to each other where we passed around another few beers while we cooked dinner at 10:30 at night.  Shags declined our awesome spot to go a few more miles while the weather stayed cool at night.

4:30 a.m. came way sooner than we thought.  I knew the day would kill us when I could throw off my sleeping bag and not be cold at 4:40 a.m. in shorts and a tank top.  We left by 5:30 and hiked through more of the large wash which actually was confusing in pre-dawn light.  Of course, it climbed immediately out of the wash.  At the top of the climb, the oven turned on, i.e. the sun rose.  I rung the back of my tank top out of sweat by 6:30 a.m.

We took a break 6 miles into the a day under a super sweet tree at the second creek crossing.  Looking at the map, from there we had to climb 5,000 ft.  Fantastic. We drank the rest of the beer so we didn’t have to carry it up. It tasted awesome at 8 a.m.  Leaving there, we decided to find a shady tree by 10:30 a.m.

About an hour after the tree, I saw a fat 2 foot rattlesnake chilling right in the middle of the trail and I had to wait for about 5 minutes for it to move.  Eventually, after a half hour search for a decent tree, I found a tolerable one.  Hop-a-long and Safari made it there, but Inspector Gadget, Dead Animal, and Shags ended up at a previous tree.

We cooked lunch at 11 a.m. or so, then slept.  I woke up soaking in sweat and realized the shade had moved and I was partially in the sun.  Sluggish, I sat up.  Hop-a-long was more and more in the sun and Safari had woken up covered in ants.  The ants were shrugged off and I set up my tarp so we could go back to sleep and/or read.  So far, I’ve set the tarp up more for shade than to sleep under at night.

Eventually, when all shade had left that area and it still managed to cook us through the tarp, we packed up and moved over toward the creek.  Luckily, for once, as in the first time on the trail, we followed a creek for several miles uphill.  Good thing since I sucked down a little over 6 liters of water that day.

We did manage to leave the tree, but not until 5:45 p.m. making it about a 7 hour break.  The sun was still strong and amazingly hot.  Continuing up and up, we ran into the wilderness boundary sign.  Usually those signs don’t lie…it’s only the ones that have mileage markers on them.  This one lied.  The boundary, according to two different maps marked the boundary considerably two miles or so after where the sign was, causing us to think we had gone further than we thought.

Eventually, we did figure that out and gave out from tiredness around 9pm, making it a 17 mile day…not bad for having a 7 hour break.  On the last, steeper part of the climb, we ran into the first Poodle Dog Bush.  We had all been warned far more than probably necessary.  Main message: don’t touch it or you die, and especially don’t smoke it.  I made sure I had my headlamp on bright to see it all, some of which was right in the middle of the trail.  I felt like I was in a video game like Donkey Kong were I was walking and if I touched the Poodle Dog Bush, I died, but if I got around it, I got bananas.

The next morning, we lazily did not move until a little after 7 a.m., mostly because we had managed to gain 4000 of those 5000 feet and the air was cooler up high, mixed with these wonderful things called trees which provided more shade.  I still am having trouble conceptualizing trees up high and small, scrubby bushes below.

We took a long time at the first water source because none of us had much energy.  Not to mention, Inspector felt sick.  He claimed to have very bad tasting burps and a stomach ache.

“Have you filtered your water?”

“What have you eaten?”

“Have you puked?”

“What color was your shit this morning?”

Gut feeling’s comment from a few days ago popped into my head, “why do bodily fluids and bowel movements always somehow come into the conversation when you get three or more hikers together?”

We had to finish that climb, then we had two more smaller ones that contoured small peaks in the region.

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The entire reason we went into Idyllwild was to celebrate Dead Animal’s birthday per his plan, however, he was lagging behind due to our Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which lasted well past hiker midnight (9 p.m.).  Hop-a-long, Inspector Gadget and I got a ride into town fairly easily and began our town routines which included grabbing mail drops and bounce boxes from the post office with our food for the next few days, then grabbed some hot food at the pizza place with a delicious chocolate porter.

Most of the rooms in town were full by the time we got there, swamped with hiker trash, so we found the $3 campground which ended up suiting our budgets much better.  Inspector Gadget had Dead Animal’s number and he mentioned maybe not making it into town since he still had 6 miles to go.  We told him to suck it up, P.S. happy birthday.  Our next move went to the laundromat where I sat there charging my phone and iPod wearing, my scarf on top and shell zipped up around the bottom having the arm holes coming out from my waist.  I felt bad putting clean clothes on when I hadn’t showered, but whatever.  We found the token machine for showers not long afterwards and cleaned up properly for the first time in 10 days.  At least half my tan washed off and turned the floor into a mess of layers upon layers of dirt and sunscreen.

Dead Animal did manage to suck it up and got in around 8 p.m.  Since no other restaurants were open, we met up at the only place in town still open: the liquor store.  As Dead Animal put it, “at least they have their priorities straight –  we can get beer.”  We got some beer and snacks then went to Spork and Chimp’s room to watch tv and celebrate.  That went well past hiker midnight as well.

In the morning, our early start kept getting delayed until eventually we waited until the heat went away.  By that time I had the brilliant idea to eat an entire bag of ruffles potato chips.

Eventually, Hop-a-long and I escaped the town vortex and began hitching our way back to the trailhead at highway 74.  One sketchy dude turned around and told us we were hitching from the wrong spot, so we opted not to get in with him and keep waiting.  Then another truck turned around with a bunch of hikers in the back including Moxie and the Israeli with the hurt knee; Lawrence the spring man had shuttled them in and was taking them further into town.  Finally, a nice retired man picked us up and took us to the trail.

Upon setting off into the steaming afternoon heat, I noticed that my brilliant potato chip idea was not so brilliant as they did not seem to digest, but rather sat as one large lump in my stomach.  A large group of horse riders passed us going back to the road which meant horse poop all over the trail for at least several miles.  Great.  They always seem to want to poop exactly where the most convenient spots are to put your feet.


We wound in, out, and around large rock piles that seemed so likely to have sat on the sea floor a million years ago.  Between the heat and the potato lump lodged in my stomach, both of us had slowed down.  We plugged on beginning to ascend for miles and miles to the first ridge in the San Jacinto Wilderness.  For a bit we had the usual switchbacks, but occasionally it liked the throw an east coast number in there and just go straight up.

By the time we got near the top of the ridge it was pretty dark,but we caught the tail end of the sunset and the amazing amount of lights coming up from houses far, far below.  We popped up on Challenger who had camped about 2ish miles from where we wanted to be.  It felt good to be on top of a ridge again and not just winding up and down on one side of it, but when Hop-a-long and I started talking out loud to coax our feet into moving, it was about time to call it for the night.


About a half mile before where we wanted to camp, we found a sweet spot with a bench.  The bench sold us and we plopped right down to cook.

In the morning, we headed toward Eagle Spring to get water and then eat breakfast.  A whopping 3/10 of a mile down off the trail, we came to the piped spring with maybe 2 or 3 drops per second coming out into a rusty metal tub with some bugs floating in it.  Knees had gotten down there just before us and we all looked at it, debating what to do. I had aquamira and Hop-a-long had a steripen, but Knees let us use his awesome sawyer filter. It worked fantastic! Now I want one hahaha.

After a long breakfast, we got moving again, but soon took a break when we found Lawrence the Spring Guy three miles down the trail handing us either donut pastries or dried pineapple rings!  We asked him if he knew why lizards do the push-up routine and he thought it was something to do with depth perception since their eyes were on the sides of their heads.

Climbing up again, we stopped a few miles later for lunch and realized how slow and distracted we were that day.  The next 8 or 9 miles seemed to go on forever and we kept thinking we were further than we actually were due to the crazy switchbacks.  I kept thinking how terrible it would be to be on a horse through that section when a few times I could only fit one foot on the trail – not both together…so how is a large horse supposed to fit four?

Beautiful, sweeping views went everywhere and I felt like I was in a plane looking down and the square town areas so far below.  A few times the entire ridge became so narrow that it might have stretched 10 feet wide total.

We ran into Gypsy Girl and Hamburger who decided to hike sobo back to the highway.  Gypsy had thrown away her trail runners that fell apart after 150 miles and got on the sandal train, going with the Tevas.  Later on, we ran into Dead Animal and Shags also sobo-ing and we circled up with a nice 24 oz Mickey’s that Dead Animal had packed up.

Finally, we got to the stream which flowed magnificently and cooked dinner.  Gut Feeling, Sunset, and Knees stumbled up later, overjoyed because they had run dry on the last stretch.  We hiked on two more miles to saddle junction over a few patches or snow here and there.  It said on a huge sign not to camp in the saddle, so we hiked up a hundred yards or so and camped there.

We managed to get going fairly early but our legs didn’t want to climb two more 1000 foot climbs.  Plus, you know it’s going to be hot when you’re in a tank top, shorts, and sandals going through snow patches at 9000 ft,  at 7:30 a.m.

The water sources for five miles flowed excellently.  The problem: six of them in five miles, then 20 miles dry. We knew we weren’t going to do 27 miles that day, so we loaded up, cooked lunch, then headed down the trail for the last two bumps and then a whopping 8,000 ft descent.  We met Wildflower and Nips having lunch who mentioned that Mellow Yellow had somehow gotten behind me, which made me laugh.

Beginning the descent, we were excited until the switchbacks made it seem like we weren’t going anywhere.  It seemed like whoever made the trail just made you see one view, then walk a ways to the other view, then back and forth, back and forth.  At times, I felt like I was walking in circles, not actually going down.  Then the damn plants!  There is one suuuuper prickly one that just hurts and scrapes you up something fierce!  It has pretty flowers from a light blue to light violet to make you think it’s nice, then it just scratches you endlessly.


We found a campsite a little after mile 200 to cowboy.  In the morning, we were both up by 5:30 a.m.

“I slept like shit,” Hop-a-long said.

“You took the words right out of my mouth,” I said.

“Every time I rolled over, something went numb,” she said.

“I couldn’t breathe out of my nose and I was too hot,”  I replied.

At 6:20 we left and ten minutes into the morning I already saw a snake.  Great.  We had a few thousand more feet to stumble down.  I found Andrew the Australian with only 200 ml of water left and I gave him half a liter to drink since he looked desperate.  About half way down I heard buzzzzzzz buzzzzzzz. Shit! Bees! Run! We bolted down the trail from the large amount of bees in a rock by the trail.

The water faucet at the dirt road was a welcome sight and our knees were overjoyed not to descend anymore.  A security guy named Bob drove his truck up.  “Any ya’ll get stung by bees today?”

“No…” was the answer from me, Hop-a-long, Andrew the Australian, and Ninja.

“Oh good! Those bees up there are Africanized and aggressive.  A hell of a lotta hikers got stung yesterday!”

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Warner Springs Resort had closed down completely leaving only the Post Office open, but the town pulled together and provided a wonderful store-at-cost in the community center, making it a fundraiser for the local school system as well as offering cheap meals, camping space, and music.  The music was three old dudes, two on guitar and a sax player who somehow managed to smoke a cigarette and play at the same time, between puffs holding it in his fingers hitting the right buttons.  The showers were too steep for me though, I’m not going to pay $10 for a shower.  I washed my socks in a sink though, that’s good enough for now.

Random girl helping out: “It smells like a bunch of hobos in here”

Hiker whispers to another hiker: “yeah that roaming herd of smelly hobos!”

The other hiker: “They just keep coming out of the bushes!”

Main problem though: no booze and it’s Cinco de Mayo.  We got a few tall boys from other hikers hitching over, but that was it.  Inspector Gadget claimed to need a ride for cigarettes (practically the only thing they didn’t sell) and got us some more beer and a small bottle of whiskey.

We left at 6:45 p.m. after dinner (which I dug through the hiker box for) and began drinking as soon as we were back on the trail.  Take one and pass-it-down-the-line style.  We lost Joe and Peter to a room in Julian but we picked up Shags and Scallywag.  Since Scallywag didn’t partake in our fun, he became the designated hiker.

On the way out of town, we walked through a horse pasture and then near a high ropes course which we managed to sling Ari up into as he sketchily hopped around up there.  He made it down ok and we continued on, watching the moon rise several times as we ducked in, out, and around small hills.  Each time we oo’ed and aw’ed and drank another beer.

By the time we got to the creek five miles in, we were doing well and even better when we found the campfire of two Canadians, a Belgian guy named Waffles, and a guy from North Dakota along with a few other randoms.  We made ourselves a little Cinco de Mayo party there.

In the morning, many weren’t doing too great, but we all eventually got moving.  The trail twisted over and over the creek many more times than the map showed and through some chilly areas until it began to climb and climb and climb.  I took my usual 7:30ish break to take off the wind jacket and to put on sun screen.  Luckily, I was not too hung over, guzzled water and kept pressing on for a nice 12 miles before lunch at trail angel Mike’s house, where one of the main water sources was a large tank.

On the way there I leap frogged Gypsy (an older Australian woman) and Hamburger (an older German guy) a few times and passed Neon and On-the-go. The sun blazed and all I could think about was getting to Mike’s for water and shade.  Right before the junction, I ran into a two foot long snake sunning itself across the trail – not a rattler, but looked similar without the rattle.  At the junction, on the back of the sign post someone wrote “Mike’s, shade, water, awesome.”

About a quarter-mile off the trail, I walked over to the water tank with Gypsy and Hamburger to read, “Free food and beer for PCT Thru-Hikers, come down if you dare to awesomeness.”  It was meant for the Cinco de Mayo party the night before, but we explored and there were plenty of leftovers.  Two vegans were even visiting and gave me a veggie burger!

Eventually, everyone came rolling through, got food, relaxed etc. Until we felt rain drops as we started to leave. Rain? In the desert? Really?  It wasn’t looking too terrible from the side of the ridge we were on but Hop-a-long and I reminisced about ridges and Colorado thunderstorms.  Our logic here was that we could scurry over the ridge and head down the other side before it got bad, plus the trail did not run on top of the ridge as the Colorado Trail did all the time, it just contoured it, went through a saddle, then contoured down the other side.

That we did.  We picked up the pace and made it through fine to a deathly stillness on the other side of the ridge, where we put on a layer, only to get rained on, then hailed on.  Magically, after a bit, it all cleared up just dandy.  We meant to get 25 miles in, but at 21 we were pooped and camped with High Life who had not been hung over and hike 27 from Warner Springs.

The morning was slow, but the sunrise was pleasant.  We found water at Nance Canyon and in the cache right after that.  I cooked there since I could grab water.

The next 9 miles were rough.  The sun came out blazing and it became ridiculous.   At one point I began hallucinating snakes that were really just tree branches on the ground, until a two foot rattler that laid directly across the trail answered me and made me jump around it.  I managed to dig my phone out for a picture while it began to slither into the bushes and coil. Aat that point, I decided it was time to go.


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Out of Mt Laguna, after a five-hour break or so, we headed another 10 miles down the trail stopping periodically to work the junk food cramps out. I had almost a whole can of Pringle’s, a can of peaches, some mini Oreos, orange juice, and Gatorade shaking around in my stomach while Hop-a-long had coffee, bagel with cream cheese, pickle-in-a-bag, and some carrot cake.  We trotted along, getting super distracted by the amazing layer of mountains that seemed to go on forever mixed in with low laying clouds.

We stopped with Peter, Ari, and Joe for a bit when we found a bench on the trail.  From there, we had not long to meander to the Pioneer Mail Campground.  Right before getting there, the wind whipped out and cooled us off as we went the last mile. Not too shabby for taking a five-hour break in “town” (downtown consisted of three buildings, but super awesome people), seven miles before, ten after.  Drop Zone had taken a spill, rolling his ankle badly, swelling up to the size of a baseball.  He got some happy pills that night to keep him distracted; good thing he’s a Canadian paramedic.


At the campground, we set up and all gathered around a picnic table attempting to block the wind.  I just didn’t cook and ate the lunch that I skipped to eat junk food.  The wind stayed blowing strong all night while the moon shone so bright that I thought someone was standing above my tarp with a headlamp.

When 5:30 a.m. rolled around, I was awake and cold, so I began getting ready because I knew the only thing that would get me warm was walking.  I packed up quickly, but my hands were super cold.  I ended up wearing my wind jacket under my shell and pulling it over my hands on the trekking poles so I had some protection on my hands.  The trail stretched wide going out from the campground and made its way over to outstanding views. Before leaving I made sure everything was waterproof since I swore it would rain, yet as soon as I got to the viewpoint corner, I noticed it was just really intense fog hovering over the campsites.  When the wind blew, it pushed the fog right off the cliff I walked on forcing it to fall, then disappear.

I walked on and on to keep warm. For a bit I leapfrogged Virgo and High Life, but then I stopped in some sun, huddled under bushes, for a wind block about six miles in or so.  There, Hop-a-long, Drop Zone, Dan, Landen, and a Kiwi met up with us until we couldn’t deal with the wind anymore and kept hiking.  About five miles later, we took another out of the wind break. A few times, we found ourselves walking with birds for 30 seconds or so as they tried to fly against the wind and went only as fast as we were walking.

We got to a low point and for the first time in 24 hours, the wind stopped. Dead Animal was sleeping down there as he always seems to be.  We plopped down and took a long break sprawled out.  Drop zone passed out almost immediately and snored.  When Peter got there, he pulled off his shoes and showed us his massive foot blisters, one of which was literally 3in x 1in and when he shook his foot, the fluid inside jiggled.

Another five miles and a hill later got us to Rodriguez campground.  The evening entertainment was episode 1 of draining Peter’s blisters…which made a puddle of blood and fluid on the dirt where he poked them.  Otherwise, we gathered around in a circle and chatted for a long time.  Some stars were out, but not too many because the moon leaned toward full. I cowboy camped that night because I simply didn’t feel like setting up.

The morning was still windy, but not terrible.  We hiked about ten miles to Scizzor’s Crossing and then took siesta under the overpass, napping, reading, and cooking lunch.  The trail angel filling up the cache there told us that a whopping 105 hikers went through Scizzors the day before so we shouldn’t depend on the third gate cache, meaning our next guaranteed water was 25 miles ahead.  We filled to capacity.

Hello 11 pounds of water!  Pack, you were so light before!  Feet, keep up, we’re hiking again…remember? Twenty minutes later the feet give up complaining and walk uphill.

Then, suddenly, a super loud noise startles us and we turn around to see jets soaring to the valley sideways and rushing up to the opposite ridge, pushing themselves up and over at the very last-minute.  The heat beat down on us hard and there was no shade to be found.  Finally, about five miles uphill later, I glanced down and saw two hikers, Neon and On-the-go, resting in the first shade, so I joined them for a bit, later Hop-a-long and Drop Zone did too.


When we got it together again, we hiked on another four miles or so to campsites in the saddle of the ridge.  We all plopped down for dinner and decided not to leave.  We sucked in almost everyone else that passed: the four Israelis who set up their tents right smack dab in the middle of the trail, then made a cook fire in a camping spot.  Joe and Peter came in, then Virgo, then Ari and Inspector Gadget joined us with pie and beer from town.  Ari seized the cook fire opportunity and made Triscut pizzas for everyone.

Out of nowhere, strange noises appeared! We looked up.

“There’s two satellites!” Drop Zone said.

“No, they’re planes” an Israeli said.

“Aliens!” Shouted Peter.  “No, really, this is how they get reported…people hanging out drinking in the woods looking up at moving, flashing lights.”

Most of us just cowboy camped that night, filling a few per flat spot.  The night was warm, meaning the next day would be hot, so most of us left before 6:30 a.m.

We went in about 5 mile chunks all day through the heat.  The first of which was at the third gate cache.  It had more water than we thought, but not a lot.  The second of which was in a small cave west of the trail which was so small, only one person could fit, so we strung up my tarp and huddled under it for shade cooking some lunch up.  Then we heard a rumor of chili and beer at Barrell Springs. On the word “beer,” we packed up and walked five more miles there to find nothing but a spring.

We sat down and rested our feet for only a few minutes when a few trail angels came with coca cola and Gatorade.  Chatting with them for a while was refreshing – just to talk to other people.  After they left, we hitched into the store four miles down the road with Lawrence, who conveniently had come to round-up some hikers since business was low.

We got quite a bit of beer and some chips and headed right back for beer run number two.  More hikers came through than we thought so we went through two twelve packs and four tall boys, then hiked out at 7:45 to do 5 more miles to eagle rock.  About two miles in we paused for a safety meeting.  The moon lit the way.

“Hey, did one of you guys step on a toad back there?” Hop-a-long asked.

Everyone checked their feet. “Maybe, none of us where using headlamps,” Ari replied.

“He hopped away, but I’m pretty sure one of his eyes had popped out.”

It went by super quick with that wonderful beer buzz until we hit cows.  In the dark. Inspector Gadget and Ari started backing up and Dead Animal had to push them through while I trotted up behind them.  When we were clear, we stopped to watch as Hop-a-long and Drop Zone scurried through. It seemed as though the cows began to surround them for a moment, but then they emerged.

We got to Eagle Rock and threw down to cowboy camp there.  Eagle rock is one of those landmarks that actually lives up to its name. Not one of those areas that claims to look like something but it really doesn’t or only looks like it if you cross your eyes and stand on your head ones.


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