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Posts Tagged ‘Andersons’

As we hiked up and over what seemed like every foothill, we began to see clouds coming in from the west.  All of our first reactions were something of a “huh…clouds” since we hadn’t seen any in at least a week.  Soon, the clouds got darker and bigger and looked like they could actually drop a wee bit of precipitation.  But no! Sand and dust began to kick up west of us and the wind began to howl and blast us on the left side.  Highway 138 was never far – I had started to see it about 10 trail miles from where we cross it, but the trail had to skirt quite a lot of private land.

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The weather had pulled a 180, going from making my eyeballs sweat to making me lean sideways into the wind in attempts to walk straight.  Luckily, we walked straight into Hikertown at the road where Sean gave us a tour around.  Hikertown was basically a home-made ghost town with the post office, city hall, the dentist, the grocery etc.  I found my box in the box office infested with ants that had gotten into 3/4 of the food.  I was super disappointed, as there was Mom-made rhubarb bread and a giant vegan cookie from Miracle Morsels (the best local granola company near my mom who resupplies me).

We called the store a few miles down the road who will pick hikers up if several wanted to go get food.  A nice guy picked us up and waited while we got food and listened to the local jabber which consisted of motorcycles, tequila, and guns. They found it amusing that we wanted to walk from Mexico to Canada.

“I should do that on my motorcycle!” One started.

“It’s foot and horse paths only,” I replied.

“Oh well, I’ll ride beside it!” He continued.

We attempted to explain contours and how it tends to drop off on one side and shoot up on the other, but then he just started talking about tequila again.

Back at Hikertown, we ran into the Canadians, Alien March, Sprinkles, Bacon Bit, and Gumby, hanging out in the hiker lounge, which really consisted of some couches in Richard the Owner’s garage.  The wind whipped up something fierce and it began to spit some rain as well while the temperature plummeted.

In the morning, the weather had not eased at all so we hung out, lounged, and ate while a few more people trickled in.  Safari came in with my sunglasses that had slipped out of my pack some 25 miles before while night hiking, Shags came in, Maverick, and a few others.  We got a surprise visit from Terri Anderson and Bounce Box too.

“The original owner of Hikertown was a little out there.  He used to paint a sign with whatever small phrase came into his head that morning.  The place was coooovered, I can see some evidence of that over there,” she said as we listened intently.

“When the place sold, we came over to make sure the water was on for the hikers and told them no one had moved in yet, so camping in the yard would be fine.  The next thing I hear is that some hikers who came by our house and had slept there, only to have the new owner wake them up with a plastic movie rifle.  There was an ‘ahhhhh’ from the hikers then and ‘ahhhhh’ from him and that just went back and forth until words explained everything.  The new owner had no idea he purchased land right smack next to the PCT or what it was.  Eventually, he gave in and reopened Hikertown.”

According to my trusty phone weather app that seems to like lying to me, the wind from the night before and that day was sustained 20-30 mph with 55 mph gusts and that would increase after 5 pm to 35-40 mph sustained with 65 mph gusts.  However, it seemed to die down a bit around 2 pm and the sun warmed us up a bit, so we left at 2:30 pm for a 16 mile walk along the aqueduct.  I was just glad to leave Hikertown.  Even for my standards it was sketchy and sleazy.

The walk along the aqueduct seemed long and mostly flat.  The wind smashed us all around but died almost completely around when we stopped for dinner with Marcus and Klondike.  Klondike had a surprise call from the New Zealand National radio which wanted a follow-up interview with him.  If you’d like to listen it’s at http://www.reallylongwalks.com.

The Mojave desert was not what I expected: it was super windy, not scorching me, and we had to follow the aqueduct in order to avoid more private land.  We passed thousands of Joshua trees and turned off wind turbines.  At one point, I leaned completely into the headwind and it held me up.  Other times, I amused myself with my shadow that was in front of me because the trail decided to take us a mile southeast at one point.  We got to the first water 16 miles in and searched for a flat and wind protected spot.

In the morning, we walked through some fresh construction near the wind turbines and began heading toward the hills.  I felt incredibly slow after battling the wind the previous night as well as that morning.  I was not the only one and we took a long ass break at the second water (the last for the day).  There, we met Tuna Helper who was on his 12th day and trying to break Scott Williamson’s speed record of the PCT.  I didn’t believe him at first because he wasn’t angry and running like every other mile hound.

“How many miles are you trying to do today” we asked.

“Probably 52 due to the water sources,” he answered.

He also warned us of the super sandy climb we had ahead up to the ridge.  He was right.  We contoured the foothills for 3.5 miles, then dropped a few hundred feet to climb 1500 ft or so.  The climb was all sand and made walking difficult, but the wind had died to a light breeze.

On top of the ridge, my stomach loudly announced that I was out of calories by rumbling until I stopped on a flat rock and raided my food bag playing the game of “how much can I eat.”  About a quarter-mile later, a blanket provided shade from a tree over a beach chair, apples, and bottled water trail magic.  It was an awesome surprise.

We then had a long, slightly bumpy descent into a functional wind farm where the wind made dodging the horse shit significantly more difficult.

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Since the heat still borderlined on obnoxious at 6 in the afternoon and happy hour was still going on, we went and had several beers to kill some time.  While we drank, Bolt, Navi, and Safari went to pick up beer to attempt the 24 challenge.  The challenge goes as follows: there are 24 trail miles between the Saufley’s and the Anderson’s where one has 24 hours to drink 24 beers.  They had thrown stuff in Moxie’s car so all they had was a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a bit of food, and 24 beers.  They left about an hour before Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Shags and I left.

We made another stop at the liquor store because we were fresh out.  There we managed to pick up some Jim, Patron, and 5 hour energies.  We had a bit of a road walk right after that which was actually part of the trail; Agua Dulce was the first town we actually walk through.

Pretty pissed that we had to walk on the road, we plodded on, peed on someone’s yard, and eventually reached real trail after a while.  Breathing a sigh of relief, we drank a beer and began on the Jim.  From there, we got to climb a wonderful 2,000 feet only to drop right back down to a water cache.  Right before the top, Dead Animal and I caught up, “Caaaaaa Caaaaaaaaaaaw!”

“Caaa Caaaaaaaaaaaaw!” Safari yelled back and beer cans clanged together.  He had a plastic bag full of empties hanging off the back of his pack.  Basically, you would always know where he was because he made so much noise.  They couldn’t seem to figure out how we caught up; the only thing they were sure of was that they were on beer #9.

We got to the road, plopped down for food and then pushed on.  Natty caught up too and after we ate, Dead Animal and I pressed on to hike more.  Climbing yet again, we went up and over another ridge and eventually down to the second cache where we found Iron still awake and settling in for a nap.  At that time, none of us could call it sleep since it was 3:30 am.  Right before we slept, Beef Nugget came for a bit and napped, but was gone when we woke up.

I think I slept maybe half and hour and dozed for an hour.  Shags came in at 4:30 am for a soda, then continued hiking.  At 5:30 am, I got up, packed up, and started hiking an hour later.  It was already hot and I just about regretted the nap.

After two hours and 7 miles of obnoxious heat, I made it to the road and began hitching to the Anderson’s Casa de Luna aka the Lunatic Lounge.  I got a ride almost there quickly and walked in to breakfast where I found Orbit who I had met on the AT loitering at a gas station eating as much as possible.  Then another surprise: Mellow Yellow had gotten super sucked into the vortex.  Apparently, he had stayed there almost 3 days before and managed to leave after his pack, then his shoes, were hidden.  But then Terri had picked him up from Hikertown (40 trail miles away) and brought him back for a few more days.

Many others had gotten sucked in as well: Damsel with her dog Lucy, Cheesecake, Ornie, Waffles, Jesse, Extra Credit, Hot Wing, among others.  Shags had beat me there by a bit and we waited for the rest of team teamwork.  I ran into Major Upchuck who I could have sworn was behind us.  He was: he hitched from Wrightwood to the Anderson’s.

In the meantime, beer magically kept appearing in my hand while I painted a rock and hung out.  It was pretty much just a constant party the whole time.  Eventually, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, and Hop-a-long made it in, I took a nap, and we kept drinking more.  Taco salad made everyone’s night.

After a night in the manzanita trees in the backyard, people slowly trickled out to the smell of pancakes and coffee.  The next day we played rummy, drank beer, napped, lounged on the awesome couches on the front lawn.  We meant to leave that evening but then Peter, Maverick and others came in with whiskey and jager.  Needless to say, we stayed.

We did managed to leave the next morning after breakfast minus Shags who has decided to only night hike due to heat and minus Safari who seemed content chilling with his new mohawk on the couch with pancakes.

The first 8 miles didn’t seem like 8 miles, but way too quick.  The water cache was empty when I got there, but Inspector Gadget hitched into town for water and beer.

Kimbo came and refilled the water cache in the afternoon.  We all went up and helped carry the water down.

We left late that afternoon to begin a 1,500 foot climb or so to get to the top of a ridge.  So close to the Mojave, we all found ourselves thankful the trail pushed us up and over every damn ridge until there were none left.  After a food break at the top, we set off for a night hike 6 or 7 miles further to the next tolerable water.  Since leaving the Anderson’s, we have plunged into some of the worst water sources yet.  Pretty much to make us feel guilty for sneering at how bad we thought some others were.

The water source we ended up sleeping near had very large floaties and was a short bushwhack to get to.  We very classily slept on the dirt road next to it since all the flatish spots had grass on it and we didn’t want condensation.  The first thing that each of us commented on was how disappointed we were that trees suddenly showed up for the last six miles right when the sun went down.  First, they would have been helpful when the sun was still uncomfortably soaking us in sweat.  Second, the moon was just about full and would have been enough light without a headlamp if the trees hadn’t created such a thick canopy.

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Attempting to wake up early, we seemed to find every excuse possible to procrastinate.  It began a long day.  Only a few miles from the big 5-0-0, we set off at different times and waited at the 500 mile mark made with sticks and a pine cone.  Supposedly, there was a sign that said 500, but that didn’t show up for another 2 miles or so around mile 502.  The map and the GPS matched the one made of sticks.   There was also a nice clump of Poodle Dog Bush right before mile 500 that I totally was not expecting.

We hiked up and over a good-sized bump and found the next “decent” water source which normally, I would highly debate actually getting water there, but compared to the other crap we’ve seen, it looked delectable, algae, bugs, and all.  The directions on the water report were even better: behind the trail sign, crawl under the roof and open the plastic cover.

I tried to take a break there, but the black flies attacked again, trying to eat me alive.  I’ve recently started using my maps as a fly swatter/fan combo which works enough that every other word out of my mouth is not “fuck” or “ouch”.

The heat began setting in but I decided to go til noon, then find a shady tree to crash out under.  I found a great spot and cooked some lunch.  Then, I realized I had 3G, so I browsed the web until I fell asleep for an hour or so until Inspector Gadget walked by snickering that he was going to beat me to town.

The last ten miles of the day just increasingly irritated me.  First, it was hot and that was just not cool.  My eyeballs started to sweat.  Then the trail had to skirt butt-loads of private lands which forced us away from the nice flat wash walk to town and over every damn foothill.  On top of that, we had to skirt a hunt club which had a sign that directed us as follows: “private land, stay on trail, under video surveillance.”  Great.  I thought about finding the camera angle and peeing right under it, but I unfortunately did not have to pee.

Not long after that a gnat decided to fly up my nose and get caught in a bugger, so I had to snot rocket it out.  Pretty sure it died in the process.

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I arrived in California on Friday, getting picked up by a most wonderful friend of my mother’s, Kathy.  She and her husband were super awesome and took me for Chinese dinner, then a mini Game of Thrones marathon before dropping me off at kick off the next morning.

By the time I got there, just before 9am, most people where alive and kicking…even the super hung over crowd in the “youth” area which was really just the “party” area.  I conveniently placed myself near the places where events went on since I had no cell service to find Hop-a-long.  In the meantime, I ran into Little Brown who had knee surgery so he wasnt thru-hiking, but doing some large sections. Then, before I knew it, I ran into 12%, who had also been on the AT in 2010.  I also met other 10ers who had been right behind me the whole time and I had never met, Hot Wing and Clarity who brought me over to where Cupa Joe was, who worked for the AMC in 2010 and had given me and Fredo a cup of tea while telling us where to go camp away from 25 loud teenage girls in the same outfits.

Later, I got the water report and then Hop-a-long found me by the gear contest. She had found No Amp who had already gotten to mile 220 with Bone Lady and Scapel.

The next morning, I got up and got my shit together to catch a ride to the border at 6am after only 4 hours of sleep, but loads of enthusiasm.  Jerry happened to be there at the meeting place looking for one more, so I jumped in and he drove us down.  He was even awesome enough to take a picture or two for me and send it to my mother who posted it earlier.

Then the funniest thing EVER happened.  I was maybe a quarter-mile down the trail when a guy walked up behind me and we had that I-think-I-know-you look.  Turned out it was Mellow Yellow who had been on the AT in 2010 as well and apparently was one of two people who had passed us on the approach trail before he went and finished much faster than I did.

Going further on, a few miles in, I saw him standing there staring intently at something. When he pointed it out, it was the biggest rattlesnake I had ever seen!  It was about 3.5-4 feet long and the width was the size of my clenched fist! Incredible!

People flooded all around that day since so many started after kick off like me, but not nearly as many as I thought. While I took one break huddled under a large bush for shade, an older woman passed and I knew at once it was Listener, who also recognized me instantly.  I met her over in PA on the AT.

The trail was great that first day, but damn was it hot! I put a bandana under my hat pretty quick to get the sun off my ears and neck.  The grades were easy despite the 2,000 feet of climbing.  Toward the end of the day, some muscle in my left foot began to hurt and I had to take some vitamin I.  Come on body…catch up, we’re hiking again! Eventually, I made it the 20 miles back to Lake Morena where some exceptionally awesome trail angels, the Andersons, had stayed and made chili for all the hikers.  They even made veggie chili and had cold beer waiting! It was most excellent, especially to be greeted with a giant hug.

Day 2 went well; I got about 6 miles due to my late start before taking a siesta with Dead Animal, Dan and Lander.  My foot kept irritating me so I continued gobbling some vitamin I and massaging it.  After a fantastic 4 hour siesta and reading a chunk of A Feast For Crows, I cooked my dinner for lunch and headed out for another 10 miles. Lucky for me, the trail went up almost all that afternoon and my foot doesn’t bother me going up for some reason.

I grabbed dinner by the last stream I thought I would pass, then hiked the rest of the way to “camping by large oak tree” as marked on Halfmile’s maps.  It was great and I got in just before head lamp time watching a beautiful sunset. Unfortunately, my camera decided inexplicably that it didn’t want to work and I didn’t feel like taking my pack off and digging for my phone.

This morning, I cruised in 7 miles to Mt Laguna which consists of a general store, a post office, a gear store, and a lodge.  Now I’m waiting for the PO to open so I can send some stuff home.  I also found Hop-a-long here who had been a day ahead since she had already done the 20 miles to Lake Morena.

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