Friday, June 24, 2011

June 23 - Kearsarge Pass, Independence and Bishop

End: Bishop, CA
Daily: 7.9 (only .5 on the PCT)
Total: 788.9

Kearsarge was way harder for me than Forester. It was all the approach. We lost the trail a couple of times, and I'm just getting sick of all the snow. Sidehilling uphill on snow and wet rocks is really tiring. The pass itself wasn't hard, but the approach wore me out.

Anyway, then we got down to Onion Valley, where Uber was camped out giving rides and cold drinks to hikers. She gave us a ride into Independence, where we got food at a cafe there (it wasn't very good) and then caught the bus into Bishop. We decided to go in to get me new trekking poles.

In Bishop, we checked in to the Ramada with Bubbles and Boots and Pepe, and then went and got dinner at a place called Whiskey Creek. It was expensive (our meal was 66 with tax and tip, but that included a beer sampler and a beer each), but it was so worth it. The portions were huge - I even took a third of mine back to the room. It was nice to feel civilized.

Now it's the next day and I think we're taking it easy to give my knee a break. I'm excited about the bookstore down the street. Probably heading back out tomorrow. I'm happy to get a break from the exhausting snow. We've heard the river crossings coming up will be scary, if not just impassable. I think we'll be okay. Someone's going to have to carry Bubbles, though. :)

June 22 - Forester Pass

End: on a cliff next to a creek
Daily: 13.6
Total: 788.3

Long day! We woke up in time to getout of camp by 6:15 and set off to get over Forester.

Forester was nowhere near as bad as I expected. We were 5 miles from the pass and we got up to the top at 9:10. We had made bets on what time we would get there, and I said 9:45. There was a little bit of straight up right under the pass, then a few switchbacks on real trail (which is becoming very rare now), then we had to traverse The Chute. That's the infamous stretch of snow with a near vertical snow chute below it. It took us all of 30 seconds. I think having spent some time climbing mountains in the Northwest has given Chris and me an advantage over most of the other people who have little sketchy snow experience.

Getting down wasn't bad either. We glisaded quite a bit of it, but what we couldn't glisade was pretty slow going - the snow was already soft.

Then we walked down this gorgeous valley alone Bubbs Creek (Bubbles had to swim in it). It was hard work. Piles of snow tend to accumulate on the trail, so you have to walk up a 5 foot tall lump of snow, then back down on the other side, then back up another one. I was getting pretty tired by the time we took a break at a campsite where Honeybuzz's dad (Seamus) had packed in food ang goodies (crazy!). We decided to go a mile farther and camp.

In that mile, I was so tired, and my knee hurt really bad, so I was slipping a lot on those snow piles. I slipped and hit my trekking pole, which broke. That really got to me. I know it's just stuff, but it felt like losing an arm or something. We just have so little stuff out here, and all of it is needed for something. I need them for stabilizing on snow and for fording rivers. Anyway, we finally made it to this campsite, found one of the very few spaces that isn't covered in snow, and cooked dinner. I felt way better than.

Kearsarde, restaurant food, showers and a bed tomorrow! Although I will miss the Sierra, even for a day. The view from this campsite looks like a painting of mountains. I can't believe it's real.

June 21

End: Tyndall Creek
Daily: 8.7
End: 747.7

Short day? Really? Today was the hardest day we've had yet. We started at 9:20, thinking we'd get to camp by 2 ish.

Then we had to slide straight down a hill (I self arrested 4 times), ford 3 creeks (the second two were scary!) and find our way over a huge bluff when the boot pack led us the wrong way. We got to camp by 5.

So we followed this bootpack say too far up this open field, turn up to go over the hill we thought we had to go up, before we realized we were probably in the wrong drainage. We decided to to try and go up through a pass we think might be the right pass and look for a lake that would tell us where we were. We ended up going way far above where we actually needed to be, and saw the lake a hundred feet or so below us. That was a surprise. So the whole detour probably added about an hour to the day.

Despite how hard today was, it was so fun! It was how I thought the Sierra would be - fording rivers, playing on snow, getting lost and seeing beautiful things. I don't think I could have done it and still been happy if I hadn't had Chris there. Getting lost alone is so different than getting lost with another person. I knew if worst came to worst, we had our tent and we were used to sleeping in the woods. Plus, today was the longest day of the year (also naked hiking day, although nobody participated).

It's time to sleep - we're leaving at 6 to get over Forester pass, the tallest pass we'll have to do. Then the next day we'll go out over Kearsarge and into Independence.

June 20 - Mt. Whitney

Today was probably the most intense of the trip so far. We woke up at four am, and amidst protests from Boots - "Does this make sense to you?! Couldn't we start at a time when the sun might possibly come up - ever?!" - we started our climb up Whitney.

The very first step in this hike was into a rushing snow-melt creek, which we had to ford at 5 am. We had to do this to leave our campsite. My feet didn't warm up until at least 9 am. Then we hiked on snow and beside frozen lakes for 4 miles before starting the real climb. The trail up Whitney was partly covered in very steep snow fields, so the easiest way up was to scramble up the scree and boulder-covered mountain side. Everyonce in a while, we would find trail and rejoice! only to have it blocked by another icy, near-verticle patch of snow.

Finally, after a few hours of that, we found generally clear trail. On we hiked to the summit, where we took our 10:30 am lunch break. In the register on top was a Staples Easy Button, like from the commercials. I cracked everyone up.

While we were on top, we met some people who had come up the Whitney Portal, who were telling us how awesome we were because we walked there from Mexico and all. We pointed out that it was more impressive that they got up there, because we've been training for this for two months, almost, and they were able to do it in a day without much training. Literally while I was saying this, someone said "Hey, I think you just got out-badassed" and pointed over my shoulder. A guy hauled himself over the edge of the sheer, 2000-foot or more cliff face on the east side of the mountain behind me. Yup. He was all roped in and belaying his friend up the mountain. Crazy!

Coming down the mountain was almost as hard, because the snow had turned soft and the postholing started. We did get to glisade a little, but I wish there had been more. I used my ice-ax for what it's really meant for, once - to catch myself from falling down a snowy mountain. I've never gone from standing to falling on such a steep slop before. I was glad I was using it correctly when I fell.

We got back around 4 and moved camp to the other side of the creek, because we have to go out this way anyway, and I'd rather ford the creek when I'm already wet.

8:00 bedtime, yeah! Short day tomorrow, double yeah!

June 19

End: Crabtree Ranger Station
Daily: 16.7
Total: 766.3

We're camped out here, 1.2 miles off trail, to set ourselves up for climbing Mt. Whitney tomorrow. At 14,500 feet, it's the highest point in the lower 48 states. Today someone got airlifted off, because of nerves or altitude sickness, we don't know. Hopefully everything will go okay for us.

Today was gorgeous!! It was on-off snow all day, but the steep ups were snow-free. It was our first morning on snow, which made us both appreciate the snow a little more. It's still hard in the morning, and if we keep our microspikes on, it's almost like walking on trail, but you can go wherever you want.

There were views of snow covered, jagged peaks in the distance, towering granite cliff,s and meadows all over.

We had to do our first dangerous creek fords today. They were pretty scary. It felt like anything not in contact with the ground was being pulled sideways by gravity. Or something. We all made it, a little colder and wetter than we started. But it was hot today, so the water felt nice.

Before we got into Crabtree meadows, there was a huge snow field that should have had switchbacks on it, Instead, we glisaded down. I love glisading.

When we got to camp, Boots pulled out his fly rod and caught us 5 golden trout. There were tiny and beautiful. We  cooked them in foil with fresh garlic, onions, olive oil and salt, which Bandit and Sprinkles were generous enough to loan out to us.

I can't believe today really happened.

June 18 - Beginning of The Snow

End: Chicken Spring Lake
Daily: 14.5
Total: 750.8

The first 5 miles of today flew past, which is good because the rest of it took forever. The first 5 were on flat, snow free ground. The rest of it was uphill land on snow. We still got where we wanted to go by 4 pm, though. Which is a good time to stop in the Sierra.

We got lost two times today. Both times were because the snow covered the trail, so we couldn't tell where it was so we followed the bootpack into meadows where the snow ended but there was no trail. Once I ended up ankle deep in muck. Meh.

My knee has been bothering me a lot too. It comes and goes. There's no rhyme or reason to it. And when it hurts I go really slow. I hope it goes away.

Anyway, by the time we got to camp, Chris and I were really tired. Our dinner was huge, too, so now we are in giant food comas. Big day tomorrow, hopefully.

Oh, Chris wants everyone to know that lost is a harsh word. We only "temporarily misplaced the trail". And he's right. We always knew where we were, we just didn't know which random contour line the traili decided to stick to.

June 17

End: near a spring in a saddle
Daily: 19.8
Total: 736.3

What a hard and beautiful day of hiking. I don't even know where to start...

We woke up next to the Kern River with swallows whizzing past our tent. After saying bye to people we camped with, Chris and I took off at 7:30. We walked next to a creek for a while, and decided to stop and take a break to get some water. As soon as we stopped, the mosquitos swarmed us. We hadn't seen more than two mosquitos since Campo, and now we could kill 8 with one slap.

So we kept going, narrowly avoiding getting lost, like everyone else we talked to, and took a nap for half an hour in the sun away from the skeeters. No one passed us but Unload, and we learned from him that everyone probably got lost at a part of the trail that crossed the river where a different, faint trail went up the hill.

My knee started bothering me around lunch. I don't know what's wrong with it, but the pain comes and goes. I used Chris's knee brace, and that helped.

We ended up making it to a possible campsite way too early to camp, so we took a break and prepared to push on. Then Kristen and Eden came around the corner, so we chatted with them... then 6 more people showed up, so we decided to cook there before moving on. We stayed there over 2 hours. We like our breaks.

In the end, we made it to this spring, almost 20 miles today, with a ton of elevation gain and loss. We're camped at 10,300 ft. It's all forest and dirt, no plants on the ground. It's really pretty.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 16 - Beginning of the Sierra

End: South Fork Kern River bridge
Daily: 12.7
Total: 716.5

We finally got out of KM at about 2 today, after saying goodbye to Boomer and Dr. Sole and yogi-ing a ride from Partrick from Pasadena and John from Fullerton (?). We started from a little before the campground and then lugged our 40 pound packs up 2000 ft. I was becoming concerned because these packs are really, really heavy.

Then we got through one of the canyons, the trees thinned out, and our jaws dropped. Yeah, the packs will be heavy (we now have 3 lb bear cans, 7 days of food, ice axes and microspikes) but if it all looks like this, it won't be as hard because we will be so excited to see what's around the next corner!

I took a couple of pictures, but they won't do it justice. We saw Becks Meadow, the hugest alpine meadow I've ever seen, surrounded by mountains, some in the distance coveredin snow. There were multiple streams all glinting in the dying light. I can't explain how amazing it was after a month and a half of dry, desert mountains.

We crossed into the next meadow and found the Kern River and about 20 people camped near it. This Sierra trip is going to be crowded.

Anyway, time to sleep.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15 - More of Kennedy Meadows

Aaaand we're still in Kennedy Meadows. It took us until today at about 1 pm to get our laundry done, because there is one washer in town and it takes an hour a load. And there are a ton of dirty hikers in town.

Then there was a mass migration to a couple miles up the river for the first (and hopefully last) South Fork Kern River Kennedy Meadows Swim Club Float. About half of the 15 or so people had cheap plastic floaties, I had a beach ball, and a few people took their sleeping pads. The first few hundred feet were a blast and easy, so we were all excited about it and decided to continue. Then it turned into a crazy, dangerous float. We hit tons of rocks and rapids and chutes... I banged up my ankle really bad and decided to hike around the hard parts. I don't want my trip to end because of this whim. Nobody got badly hurt, but everyone's floaties popped but mine and Boomer's. I was trying to think of stupider things I've done, but it was pretty hard. It was fun, but I wouldn't do it again. I think that most people felt the same way. I'm just happy the temperature was over 100 today, or it would have been miserable.

Then we all came back and hung out on the porch and drank beer and watched Boomer and his dad, Dr. Sole, make us tacos. Yup, this is the life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 13 - Kennedy Meadows

End: Kennedy Meadows
Daily: 21.4
Total: 702.2

We made it!!!! I am not a big proponent of multiple exclamation points, but that statement deserved four.

We woke up all covered in dew, which we were expecting, having camped next to a creek and not under a tree. So we got a late start after letting our bags dry out in the sun a bit. Then we had a giant climb through a burn area. At the very top of this climb, we caught a glimpse of the high Sierra! They were totally covered in snow. We're going to be there in only a few days!

The rest of the day brought us into more and more beautiful stuff. You can really tell we're in the Sierra now - there are crazy rock formations and white granite and meadows and streams! We walked next to the Kern River for a while. The amount of water rushing in that thing was incredible. Now we stop worrying about not having enough water, and start worrying about there being too much in the form of snow and raging rivers we have to ford.

Finally, after walking through the heat of the day, we made it to Kennedy Meadows. We are done with our first challenge, Southern California, and now we're on to the real test.

Kennedy Meadows is yet another slice of the craziness that is small town America. We've been seeing a lot of that lately. It's such a huge destination for thru-hikers, but really it's only a "community" of 200 people with one tiny store. We're staying at Tom's Place, which is really just that - a place owned by Tom with a lot of trailers he gets for free from people who just need them removed from their land. We just set up a tent. Unfortunately the only showers are $3 and at the general store, which turns off the water when they're closed. Oh well. Hopefully laundry and showers in the morning.

Anyway, KM also has an awesome view. I wish I could post a picture. Maybe soon.

June 12

End: Chimney Creek
Daily: 23.9
Total: 680.8

We want to get to KM tomorrow, so we decided to try to make it to this creek tonight. But today was SO much elevation that it was a really long and tiring day. Beautiful though! I think we're geologically in the Sierra right now - at least that's what we've heard. I think that's why the trail has so much elevation change compared to normal.

We woke up to Pepe and Boots pretending to be a bear doing a pig impression. They had camped a mile back and started early this morning. We flip flopped with them until we took lunch.

Right after lunch was a gigantic climb. By the end of the climb we still had 5 miles to do before camp, and I was so ready to stop. Byt then I remembered we had whiskey in our packs as a treat for camp. We drank a very small amount if whiskey (we're lightweights, especially after doing so much exercise), and somehow that lit a fire under me. I was gone! Chris couldn't even keep up. I finished the last 4.5 miles in an hour and a half. I wonder if that trick works reliably (update from two days later: it totally does NOT work all the time - we tried it again the next day and I was sooo slow). I think part of it is that my knee had been hurting all day, and that dulled the pain a little. Which isn't really good; I don't want to hike while masking pain. I've only taken two ibuprofen and one Aleve the whole trip, and the ibuprofen was taken at night to reduce inflammation.

Okay, gotta sleep. KM in T-minus 21.4 miles.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11 - Lake Isabella/ Walker Pass

End: saddle after Morris peak
Daily: 5.4
Total: 656.9

Today we mostly spent hanging out, hydrating, and talking to people. We caught a ride with one of the trail angels into Lake Isabella so we could go to the grocery store, but all we needed was a lunch and some snacks. The trail angel was actually going into town to drop off some trash, so we all piled into the back of her covered pickup with a bunch of trash bags. Gave a whole new meaning to "hiker trash".

A few people we liked and haven't seen in a while showed up today, which made it hard to leave. It's exciting that we get to be in Kennedy Meadows in two days, but I really wanted to catch up with Shaker, Mowgli, and Hotrod too. I also wish Gourmet would show up, since we miss him, and also because his daughter joined him in Tehachapi, but she doesn't have her trail legs yet.

I really wish we were a day back often, because I feel like we would fit in better with a lot of the people behind us, but it's so hard to not keep moving when the urge hits. I think at Kennedy Meadows we might take a day or two off. It's just hard to feel like part of a group when the group dynamics include an activity that we don't really take part in, and when everyone in the group is really loud and we're not. Maybe I'm feeling more like this than Chris, but I know he feels it too.

Anyway, we eventually left and walked 5 miles to here. We were originally planning to hike 12 miles to the next water, but we ate cheeseburgers and peach pie before we left and then hiked up a huge hill. So instead we stopped here, in the saddle, where we knew it would be windy, and sure enough, it's windy. We set up the tent because it's annoying to cowboy camp in the wind. We are SO good at setting up this tent now for the wind.

Then we watched the gorgeous sunset over the valley we just hiked out of, and enjoyed Starbursts and some of that Old Number 7. Beautiful.

KM countdown: 45.3 miles. Woo!

June 10

End: walker pass campground
Daily: 20.5
Total: 651.5

That number, 651.5, suddenly looked really big to me when I typed it out. Have we really gone 650 miles? We're almost a quarter of the way done.

We did our first 10 miles by 10 am today. We got up early to get a cool start on the climb, and then realized we'd already done 6 miles by 8:30 and the next few miles were only slightly uphill, so we thought we would go for it. We made it with 10 minutes to spare. 

We also did 5 miles in 1 hr and 30 minutes today. We were just really excited to get here, because we knew there was trail magic and because we're sick of the desert. 

So we got here and there were cold drinks and beer and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomatoes (!!!) and chairs and shade and tons of people. Warner Springs Monty and Yogi are here along with a ton of other people. We all had dinner (brats and salad and three different kinds of cake) and hung out.

Okay, here's where I get into the controversial stuff. Everyone out here smokes so much weed. So much. Everyone. All the time. I know it's legal to buy, whatever, but it's just annoying that everyone smokes it literally all day. I wonder if it's just the group we're in, or if this happens in every group. I wish we could find a group that didn't smoke a bowl every time they weren't moving, and sometimes even when they are. If they're not smoking weed, they're smoking cigarettes. I'm tired of my clothes always smelling like weed and cigarettes even though I don't smoke either. End of rant.   

June 9

End: bird spring pass
Daily: 20.8
Total: 630.8

HOT! It was freaking hot today. For the first time since before Warner Springs we had to wait out the hot part of the day. 

We dropped out of the trees and back into desert. This stretch has no water for 34 miles. There was little in the way of shade but Joshua trees. About 6 miles into the day's walk was a water cache. We didn't need any water because I hate to rely on caches, but I did switch out some of my treated-but-tastes-like-grass water for water that didn't make me gag. Then we headed on, and the temperature rose and rose. I would guess in the sun the temperature was around 95 degrees. 

So we walked about 14 miles by 1:00 and then heard Pepe yell our names from under a j-tree. We decided to take a break, and then Boots and Bubs caught up. 

The second part of the day felt like it took way longer. All day long the ground was sandy, but the climb after our break was really deep sand. That wears you out.  I was happy when we made it here, but tomorrow starts with a huge climb. At least were going to get it done early. 

One thing I don't think I've mentioned is how many lizards there are. Soooo many of all different shapes and sizes. I like the big black ones with blue bellies (western fence lizards). They look like fat little dragons without wings, and tests have shown that if a tick bites them, any Lyme's disease they had in their systems is killed. There are also some lizards that are at least 9 inches long with tail.

The lizards are entertaining too because they run so fast to get away from you. Sometimes I wouldn't even have noticed if they hadn't moved, but they burst into movement and scurry up the trail for literally 50 feet sometimes, and I feel like I'm chasing them. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 8

End: 610 in a flat burn area
Daily: 21
Total: 610

We passed 600 today! Yay!

It was a beautiful walk today. We started out with a climb that brought us up into pine forests with tons of miner's lettuce. It looked like some of the places we passed through got some rain. So it was all lush and green and wet with huge boulders that looked like they would be fun to climb. That's one of the drawbacks of this lifestyle is that you're always excited to see what's around the next corner or to get the miles done that you don't have time to stop unless you're resting. We don't have our climbing shoes anyway. 

Anyway, it reminded me of the northwest and I remembered that I miss it up there. 

We made 14 miles by 12:30 so we stopped for a break at a spring, had delicious and heavy avocado, cream cheese, hummus, and miner's lettuce wraps and took a nap. Bubbles, Pepe and Megaphone were there, as were Storytime and Pfeisty. We all enjoyed a long break and then did another 6 miles to another water source for dinner. The next natural water source that's not 2 miles off trail isn't for another 34 miles from there so we're carrying lots of water. But there isn't as much food so it's not too bad. 

The second half of the day was flat. There was even a huge meadow! I love meadows.

Now I'm getting my feet rubbed. Must go. Hope it doesn't rain, we're cowboying it. 

June 7

End: still in the damn wind farm!
Daily: 20.5
Total: 589

Luckily we have a really sheltered place to sleep so it won't be as bad as last night. It took two hours for me to fall asleep because the wind was so strong, it felt like someone shaking my sleeping bag to wake me up every thirty seconds. Bubbles' sleeping pad blew away in the night. How, I don't know, but she slept most of the night without one. When we woke up, we were confused as to why there was a sleeping pad caught in the bushes next to us. Then we figured it out. Bubs was really lethargic all day, partly because of that and partly because she's been hiking with people who really like to drink this week, and she hasn't been hydrating well enough. 

Today was pretty average for us. We got out of the more deserty scene and up into some shrubs and trees. Pretty views of the mountains. It didn't really look like Southern California, especially since some clouds rolled in later in the day. Green mountains, as far as we could see.

The wind generators gave the whole scene today an otherworldly feel. Just so weird. They are so much bigger up close than they seem from far away. They're loud, too. 

Chris said today kind of felt like punching the clock. The main goal on everyone's mind is to get to Kennedy Meadows. We just want to get these miles done so we can start the Sierra!

There was only one water source all day, too. Water is scarce through this section. Its actually better than most years, but we still have multiple 20-25 mile stretches with no water. I would hate to do this on a dry year. Not really, but it would be a lot harder.

It was fun to hike around so many people, too. When Chris and I are alone, we don't get to hear all the drama and stuff. It was entertaining to get the update when we met back up with Bubbles. 


Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6

nd: flat and windy spot near highway 58
Daily: 10
Total: 568.5

I am so ready to be out of SoCal. This sleeping next to the highway in the wind thing is getting old. 

We woke up, hitched a ride to the PO (which is far away) and picked up my new shoes (oh my gosh, my feet love them) and met up with Bubbles, whose package came in late. We bummed breakfast off the Holiday Inn and headed out when Bubs got her package. Got a ride from Lupine, aka Abigail Springer, a trail angel in Tehachapi. Thanks!

Then we walked through wind farms for 10 miles. So done with wind. Ugh. We stopped early because we were expecting megaphone and Pepe to join us. They finally got there, and then so did a ton of other people we like! Hooray! So we had a good time talking before we went to bed. It looks like the wind has changed directions since we set up and our spot isn't as protected as we thought it was. Meh. 

Kennedy Meadows in like a week. Bring on the Sierras!

June 5 - Tehachapi

End: tehachapi, ca
Daily: 19
Total: 558.5

We did 19 not-flat miles by 3:00  today! I think that's pretty awesome. Most of it was totally ugly hills covered with jeep and atv and dirt bike trails, burned trees and signs saying don't leave the trail.

Then we got into Tehachapi. Yeah. Not my favorite town. We stayed at the Ranch Hotel, also known as the Rank Hotel by the locales, because the sign reads RANCHOTEL. And it fits. But it was cheap! It's also really spread out, so we had to walk about 1.5 miles to the store and back. Oh well, we got our stuff done. Tomorrow I get new shoes!

June 4 - Aquaduct Walk

Start: hikertown
End: ? Me not knowing where we set up camp is becoming more common
Daily: 20.9
Total: 358.5

We were planning on making it 24 miles today but walking up that aquaduct was just so exhaustingly boring that we had to cut the day short. We will still make it in to Tehachapi tomorrow, it just might not be till 5 ish. We wanted to get there at like 3.

So in February, we went to Big Bend NP to practice for this desert hiking. We thought a lot more of Southern California would be through flat desert. It was like 90 degrees and sunny on that trip, so we experimented with umbrellas and waiting out the hot part of the day.

So in the middle of today I realized that that trip was really in preparation for this day. We crossed the Mojave Desert today. The thing is, it was about 70 degrees and cloudy with a slight cool breeze all day. Perfect weather.

We carried too much water. I had 3.5 liters, and drank so much I had to pee every thirty minutes. We passed up Cottonwood Creek and I still made it to camp with enough to cook with and still have about 2/3 of a liter to get me to the next water source in 3 miles. Chris still has a liter and a half. Oh, we also used some to make wet sand for a seahorse with my sand toy.

The aqueduct was so boring. Just a slight uphill grade on cement or gravel all day. This morning we did get to walk on a crazy steel pipe with huge rivets. It looked like something from a steampunk movie.

I ended up using up most of my battery to stream Pandora for about 3 hours to pass the time today. We'll be in town tomorrow anyway.

We got close to Cottonwood Creek (about 17 miles into today's hike) and saw a truck. Thru hikers get really excited when there are cars near the trail because often that means trail magic. Down the hill we saw people sitting in chairs. That almost definitely means trail magic. Sure enough, two people from the Class of '09 (Good Spot and his girlfriend, cant remembr her name) were there with beer and sodas and watermelon and mango salsa and chips. About 5 other thrus were there too. We asked them why they picked this spot and they said it was their least favorite spot on the trail and they wanted to make it better. It sure worked. We stopped and chatted for a while, had a beer and some delicious fresh fruity food, and then took a beer for the road.

Finally we found ourselves here, in a gully somewhere. I'm going to fall asleep to the sound of coyotes having a dusk party. Night!

June 3 - Hikertown

End: hikertown
Daily: 16.6
Total: 517.6

This section is one crazy place to stay after another.

This morning we woke up and then immediately went back to sleep. So we really didn't get started until about 9. After we packed up (and said hi to Solar Sam, who we saw a lot today) we hiked a few miles to a water source, which was a giant concrete tank on a hill. The lid came off but inside was a milky brown dank-smelling liquid too far down to reach. Since there was another water source in less than a mile we walked to that and found clean water that was easy to reach. It was a rainwater catchment tank. Yay!

The hiking today took forever it seemed. Same as yesterday. Parts of it were really pretty - through oak meadows with the ground covered in miner's lettuce. A lot of it was chaparral. At the end, we passed by a herd of about thirty cows, which all looked at us and then ran off up the hill.

I almost stepped on a couple snakes, but neither were rattlers. They still surprised me though.

Then we finally made it to Hikertown. Hikertown is a place by the side of the road that let's people stay and take showers and rent a room if they want for $10. We ended up just crashing on the floor. A lot of people did the same thing. This place is crazy. It's like a miniature wild west town. There's buildings with facades and old antiques and junk inside. The caretaker said the owners bought it as an investment and are there rarely. There are chickens and cats and dogs running around. And the landscape all around is flat. It's so weird and awesome.

Anyway it's late and we have to get up early to walk the LA aqueduct. It's going to be so boring. Oh well, it all gets better from there!

June 2 - Saufley's (Agua Dulce) and Andersons

Start: lake hughes road
End: ? Before a water tank somewhere
Daily: 15.3
Total: 501

So, I didn't write the last few days because we were at the Saufleys' and then the Andersons'. Both are amazing couples who open their homes and/or properties to hundreds of thru hikers each year. At the Saufleys' you get your basic needs taken care of - resupplies, laundry, and a place to sleep. You can also send things ahead to Kennedy Meadows. It's all done soooo efficiently and in such good cheer. Donna Saufley is such a nice person - she definitely makes you feel like she's been really wanting to meet you. And she has, she just didn't know who you were!

Then Sugar Moma brought our food to the Andersons' so we could slackpack the 24 miles there. We made it there really quickly. People say it's really dry, but there were about seven streams between the houses. Some people try to do 24 beers in those 24 miles. One guy finished his with 6 miles to go! He's a bigger dude, but shrinking rapidly.

Anyway, I don't know what to say about the Andersons' except that it felt so much like home I couldn't believe it. We slackpacked 8 miles yesterday and I caught myself looking forward to getting "home" for enchilidas. When we left, I felt legitimately homesick for Casa de Luna (what they call their house). It is strange.

When we got there, we were told to set up our tent in the enchanted forest... To "pick a path and go with it." Out back, through a fence, there was literally a forest of thick manzanita with paths cut through. We walked for what must have been at least an eighth of a mile until we found a spot to set up. Apparently it's National Forest land back there. It was incredible.

Then we came back and hung out. We knew everyone there. We spent the night sitting on couches and futons and chairs in their driveway having awesome singalongs and eating giant plates of taco salad. The next day was pretty much the same thing, except with enchiladas and Mr. Gentle Spirit brought out his drums and second guitar and trumpet and tambourine and  freaking stage lights and then he sang jazz songs and played drums while Pepe and Ramble On played guitar. It was so amazing. MGS is a professional jazz singer and he's bouncing his car so he can play shows as he hikes.

Terri and Joe Anderson are phenomenal people. I really don't know how to explain it other than they are just Good. So funny. So loving and full of laughter. I really hope we get to see them again. And theres's really never a dull night at Casa de Luna.

Anyway, we finally left (some people had been there four or five days, even when they hadn't meant to stop there in the first place - Terri tries to talk everyone out of leaving) and hiked for a long time. It seemed like it took us forever to get anywhere. But we made it to a windy but flat spot and decided to keep going to see if there was something better. Bad idea. Now we're camped in a small break in the brush - the first break in a while. It's still windy too. LOL I guess Terri was right. We shouldn't have left.