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Posts Tagged ‘Shags’

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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From the creepy campsite, after we got startled by bats flying out of the only not burned thing: the bathroom, we went to finish the damn long detour.  Right before the climb, we met Snow Turtle and Agasey who had been too creeped out to camp in the abandoned awesomeness.

Dead Animal and I hiked up and up on the damn pavement to the abandoned communication tower.

“What will you bet Safari climbs that?” He asked.

“There is no question,” I replied.

Forty minutes later, “Guys! I totally climbed that tower.  Actually I was chicken shit at first, then Bolt came and we climbed up that thing!”

We all laughed as we took turns in the poopers at the Messenger Flats campground where we got to go back on actual trail.  Continuing on, we still battled the Poodle Dog Bush and severe erosion for several miles, not to mention overgrown plants that tried to attack you in gauntlet form.

Hitting another ranger station after a 10 mile morning, normally, we would have posted up in the shade for the afternoon, but with a mere 8 miles, mostly downhill to a pool at a hiker friendly KOA…..basically: set autopilot to swimming pool!

The elevation profile made it not seem too bad, but we saw the heat waves and felt them bouncing off the ground back up.  The countouring first two miles seemed to do more up and down on the side of the hill than following it.  I set my tunes louder and just kept going.

At the KOA, hikers had taken over a large chunk of the picnic tables ordering food from one restaurant that somehow made Chinese, American, Mexican, and Italian all in one place.  Safari had already ordered Chinese, so we checked it out and it seemed alright, so we ordered, took showers, ate boatloads, and then went swimming.  No, we didn’t wait 30 minutes. No one died.

That evening, we pooled our booze and got some vending machine sodas to mix with the dregs of what was left while we played a rousing game of rummy.  Then we cowboy camped on the playground.

Once again, picnic tables slowed us up in the morning, but we managed to do the 10 miles into Agua Dulce by around 10:30ish.  We waited until the pizza place open that had a large sign saying “welcome PCT hikers! Come have the last pizza and Beer until Tehachapi” (some 100+ miles later).

With bellies full of pizza and beer, we headed over to the Saufleys who are ridiculously awesome trail angels who do everything.

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Bristle Cone gave us the run down: put the pack on a cot, sign up for a shower, grab some loaner clothes, put laundry in a mesh bag with a name, food in the fridge, recycle as much as possible, grab a new water report, and relax.  We set on that full of pizza and beer.

At 6pm we got a ride over to REI on the outskirts of LA to solve our growing list of gear issues.  I desperately needed new shorts and a light pair of leggings; Hop-a-long needed to replace her Patagonia wool leggings that got huge holes as well as a leaky platypus; Dead Animal needed seam sealer for his tent; Shags needed new leggings; and Inspector Gadget desperately needed new shoes. image

By the time we got back, we ended up watching the latest Game of Thrones episode that Inspector downloaded to his laptop and hanging out quite late.  So late that none of us got up until the sun scorched us out of our sleeping bags.  We packed up off the cots and then went to hang out on the couches until the sun went down.  The temperature reached over 100 degrees that day.  We were sweating sitting in the shade doing nothing.  More entertainment came as we painted everyone’s toenails pink and watched some movies.

We waited until the heat subsided and got a ride to the pizza place around 6 in the afternoon for happy hour.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

“Damn.”

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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