Tuesday, May 2 — day 37

PCT mile 517.60 to 529.42

Today I tried to sleep in but the sunlight just would not let me, so I got up, took a shower and packed my pack. Medic arrived yesterday afternoon and we decided that since the temperature will be in the 90’s today, we will leave after 3pm and hike as far as we can into the night. We’ve got a 16 mile journey to the first water across the desert. Well try to do half of it tonight and the other half tomorrow morning.

Doc, Zero and others arrived late yesterday so we crammed about 7 people into an old minivan to get breakfast at the cafe down the road.  While waiting outside for our eggs and such Doc made the rounds giving shoulder massages.  He’s got a good sense of where the tightness is and some powerful fingers to deal with the muscle knots he finds.  Ahhhhh…

We returned to HikerTown to chill and await lunch and our departure time.  I updated blogs, recharged my electronics and napped in the breezy shade. At 10am it did not seem that hot and I entertained the thought of heading out early, but then it suddenly started getting warmer and I could see the wind turbines 15-20 miles away where I am headed spinning quickly- so lots of wind too… soooo, back to napping!

Doc showed us his sunburn treatment:  juice from a can of French-cut Green Beans… Here he is treating Goat’s face, Tatters’ nose and Corky’s forehead.  They reported that it worked!

We crammed 9 people into that same minivan and drove down the road to get a late lunch.  One lunch offering I have never seen before was deep fried avocado slices…

By the time we got back it was 4:00. Medic and I headed out.  

We quickly came to the California Aqueduct, a cement sided river running from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Los Angeles, which we followed for a few miles.

Then we the came upon the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which crosses the California Aqueduct.  The LA Aqeduct is a semi buried steel pipe with the PCT on top.  First here’s looking to where we are going and then where we came from (with Medic)

You know you are truly in the Mojave Desert when you see Joshua Trees

I came across this cool bug – I think it iscalled a “True Bug”

Our shadows grew long as we hiked into the evening.

We came upon a herd of range cows as the sun was setting 

At about 8:45, wit 12 miles logged and with a half-moon lighting out way, we decided to make camp.  We found a nice sandy spot for me to lay out my groundcloth and Medic his tent and we drifted off to sleep interrupted by coyotes yipping and some late night hikers passin us by (Rex, Tatters, Corky, Doc and Zero).

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 1 — day 36

PCT mile 503.05 to 517.60

The pre-dawn bird chirping awoke me as usual and so I started packing.  I slept great last night, due in big part, I am sure, to yesterday’s long uphill workout.

Today I thought should be easy:  15 miles and 4,000 feet downhill to the Mojave Desert.  The PCT had a bit more of a workout planned for me….

Here’s the Mojave Desrt in the morning sun with the reflections not from lakes but from solar panels

The hike started nicely enough, passing through shady forests of Black Oaks carpeted with more Miners Lettuce than I have ever seen

The lichen growing on the trees was also very colorful

I also admired the handiwork of Acorn Woodpeckers on a piece of Oak  bark

I was surprised by how much more “up” these mountains could find for me to hike, but eventually I dropped down to a lower vegetation zone (Upper Sonoran) and finally the desert.

At the base of the mountains I encountered a small shady stream. It was nice and cool sitting in the shade and drinking copious amounts of fresh, cool water.  I just needed to be mindful of the Stinging Nettles.

Even after the trail wound through another four miles of dry desert hills as the morning turned to noontime.  It was hot and there was very little shade.  Luckily I had my sun-brella to help create my traveling shade.

Despite the arid heat, there were still many poppies in ones and twos but also in large bunches

At the lower elevation I also found this interesting but tiny flower

And this one

I finally reached my destination after the noon hour, the home of a local Trail Angel named HikerTown.  

The owner has created a number of small cottages, some of wood, some out of containers, some out of trailers, that he rents out for $10-$20 per night and makes them look like an old west town.  I scored my own trailer for the night

He provides sodas and beer for a small cost and drives up 4 miles to town for meal runs.  I did my laundry and took a much needed shower and then, while sitting in the shade, I updated blogs, chatted with fellow hikers, greeted new arrivals and said happy trails to people heading out.
Sleep came easy!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 30 — day 35

PCT mile 478.23 to 503.05

I got up before sunrise to get a jump on the day. Even so, I was not the first, but the second one to hit the trail. I’m still feeling guilty about my day of sloth.

This town seems to be very movie oriented – the owners and son of Casa de Luna were set designers in Hollywood. They have a lot of celebrity stories. I started hiking to the trailhead with my thumb out and after a bit was picked up by, surprise, someone in the movie business, dressed in a black Newsboy Cap and black cape.

Today’s hike looks to be a 5,000 foot uphill and 3,200 foot downhill hike over a 20 mile distance. Ugh – that means the trail goes up and down a lot in order to get over the ridges.  This is going to be a tough day…

The trail took me by an old mine… not sure what was being mined…

I’m back in the desert — here’s my view.

And I saw more great flowers 

Water is starting to be an issue so sometimes I need to be creative in how I gather water. At one spot there was a 15 foot diameter cylindrical water tank that feeds a pipe in a small cement container below. The upper container was nearly empty but the water level was 10 feet down from the small opening on top. The lower container only had a 3 inch pipe exposed, but it was filled with clear water. In the lower container was. 1/2 gallon jug an a the re foot length of tubing. I realized this was a logic problem and figured out I needed to siphon water from the pipe into the jug. I was able to collect 3/4 of a liter!

The other water sources refs in thee mountains are called guzzlers – structures resembling tin roofs that capture rain water and transfer it to a holding tank. To access the water you simply crawl under the tin roof, remove the tank lid and scoop out water. I have never seen this before.

I got a view of my next challenge — crossing the Mojave desert…

And I completed another milestone — 500 miles. So hard to believe!

I ended up hiking 25 miles today, a new personal best!

I SS looking for a campsite near Red Rock Tank, crawling through Manzanita bushes and finding small sandy spots that were not level or were full of anthills when I heard a voice call out to me.  It was hikers Doc and Zero, two guys my age setting up in a spot big enough for all of us.  I set up my tent and ate a small dinner wth them until I got too cold and had to climb in my sleeping bag.  I liked chatting with these guys and we agreed that we would chat more at our next destination: HikerTown, a Trail Angels home at the base of a he mountain and the start of the great Mojave desert passage.

I slept great!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 29 — day 34

PCT mile 471.42 to 478.23

Today I had originally planned to log another 20 miles and get a jump on the last uphill these mountains have to offer.

I was persuaded by the lure of Casa De Luna, however… It is the celebrated Hippy PCT overnight stop where they feed you all you can eat pancakes and coffee for breakfast and taco salad for dinner.  

A largish (8) group of hikers left Hiker Heaven just before me and camped near me last night. This morning as some of them passed me they were all talking about how cool Casa De Luna is… And it is still early enough to get breakfast today, if we can hitch a ride.  

So, in the interest of getting the complete PCT experience, and since the snow in the Sierras is still not melting away, I decided to visit Casa de Luna.

I did get coffee and pancakes! The laziness hit me immediately after I donned my Hawaiian shirt. We walked to the market to get Chocolate Shakes.  
The shake was awesome! The rest of the day was spent sitting in the driveway on sofas and chairs with about 20 other PCTers, just chatting. Dinner was served outdoors so I only had to shuffle about 25 feet to get dinner. Each serving. It was simple, plain food, but I ate two and a half plates.

That pretty much was the whole day. At dusk we all sauntered off to our campsites.

We all slept in the huge backyard along a winding path thorough the Manzanita decorated with painted rocks. Every now and again there is a little alcove that fits a tent. 

I felt guilty for logging only six miles today, but I can say I have had a full experience.

Sorry for the short blog…

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 28 — day 33

PCT mile 454.2 to 471.42

I asked a few people at Hiker Heaven about the Red-Legged Frog Trail Alternate– Nobody did it: many because they missed it but a fai number because it is a a long dry up-and-down. I feel better about modding it 

Last night while I was publishing blog posts some of the crew was piled in in the trailer watching “Petes Dragon”, while a hiker “BeerMuffin” was cooking three tri-top steaks on the grill. The steaks came out fantastic.
I heard a Great Horned Owl last night and remembered that I spooked one into flight yesterday on my way down to Hwy 14. I was also awakened by the neighborhood dogs that started barking all of a sudden. A few minutes later I found out why: I heard coyotes yipping nearby and others farther off replying. It took a while for the dogs to calm down. Then the roosters started crowing. Then the PCTers started packing up — lots if zipper sounds! I was thinking of taking a zero day and sleeping in but that’s not happening. Sunrise was nice though.
BTW, Here’s a view of the Hikers Heaven sleeping area.

I realized my sun hat was missing – I thought I left it with my pack but it was not there. I then worried that it had been blown away in a he strong gusts we had yesterday afternoon, so I searched the yard to no avail. I resigned myself to having to go to town to find a replacement and went back to my tent to check one last time – under the sleeping bag, under the pad and then under the tent.. and there it was sandwiched between the groundcloth and the tent. Yay!

While BeerMuffin was cooking scrambled eggs (18 of them), with a pound of sausage, mushrooms, spinach and cheese, I went to find Santas Helper because he knows how to operate the sewing machine.  

These things are a mystery to me. He made it look so simple and it looked great — from the top… but when he pulled it out it ha a bunch of long loops of thread dangling from the other side, like fur. We tried cleaning out and rethreading the bobbin, but no luck. By a he time I got my pants back on breakfast had been devoured. Oh well I have food and I did score some fresh coffee.  

I also was able to get maps for the next section thanks to our host, so I started thinking maybe I should hike today after all. It feels guilty to just hang out, so I paced up and hit the trail — my latest start yet 9:30 am.

The trail out passed through the rest of Agua Dulce that I not yet walked through. I saw an interesting lawn ornament.

And a street with an awesome name.

And then the trail returned to the wilderness.

I saw a great view of Lake Hughes.

And a good view of Edward’s Air Force Base

I caught up to Medic and we came across two rattlesnakes – the first was at Bear Springs 

​The second one we ran into – almost literally!  Medic was in the lead and then all of a sudden he jumped up on a rock two feet up from the trail exclaiming “Scheisse!!!” (He’s from the German-speaking part of Switzerland) and pointed his poles at the base of a bush across the trail.  There was a big Mojave Rattler just hanging out that did not see us.  Medic had stepped within 2 feet of him/her.  I have a video of him/her but I am unable to upload it to my blog 😦

The flowers were once again pretty nice.

I am still impressed by the size of the Wild Cucumber and the Miners Lettuce.

And the trail on the north side of the mountains was beautiful

I found a nice spot to camp, although a bit exposed, but it was a pretty night.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 27 — day 32

PCT mile 444 to 454.5

I got up early today after the n’th train went by.  I quickly packed and took off.  Today’s destination is Agua Dulce, specifically the home of the Saffleys, known as Hiker Heaven.

But first I cross over the ridge between Acton and Agua Dulce.  I was followed by some ravens.

Along the way I came upon the memorial marking the last section of the PCT being completed

The hills were quite pretty in the morning light

I got to cross under Hwy 14 through that loooong tunnel.

And when I emerged I was in the Vasquez Rocks Count Park, which is an awesome place!

There were some cool flowers too

And California Junipers

At Hiker Heaven I got my clothes washed, opened and sorted my resupply food, showered, recharged my phone, battery and GPS, and ate and ate.

Oh, and I brought my blog up to date.  Tomorrow I may hike out or stay for a zero — not sure yet…

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 26 — day 31

PCT mile 424.27 to 432 (where PCT is closed due to the Sand Fire),
Plus 14.5 miles hiking dirt and paved roads to rejoin the PCT at Mike 444

I digit to post last nights sunset.

Today I hike down to where the PCT is closed yet again, this time due to the 2016 Sand Fire.  From there I will hike on dirt roads and paved roads to rejoin the PCT at the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) in Acton.  Many PCTers are skipping this section and hitching rides down to the KOA, but I intend to hike this route so that’s what I did.

At some points the road was a wash.

I saw lots of flowers!

And saw this little bunch of flowers

And then a few miles down the road I found a much bigger version

I also found Manzanita in bloom

And Manzanita fruits (Manzanita means “Little Apple”)

And a Sphinx Moth (deceased)

And bones –coyote?

The road I am following will get me way down there where Acton is.

I found the tracks of a snake crossing my he road but was unable to find it

A few miles later I did find this rattler

Just before arriving at the KOA I passed a Big Cat Sanctuary that takes in injured or mistreated lions and tigers.  They were too far away to get a good shot. 
There were quite a few PCTers at the KOA.  We all raided the store, took hot showers — do you think I need one?

We set up tents in the grass but I did not sleep so well due to the busy train tacks nearby.

Tomorrow is a short day to Hiker Heaven – a residence that opens their backyard and house to PCT hikers.  I have a food resupply waiting for me!

Thanks for reading!