Acton – Casa de Luna: After two days of eating and relaxing back in LA we were eager to get back to the trail. Our friend Josh came to hike the ten miles in between Acton and Agua Dulce, where we experienced desert terrain again after the mountains of Angeles Forest. There was no shade aside from a cave off trail where we took a break for a while before hiking into the Vasquez Rocks Recreation Area, a spot that has been filmed for big Hollywood productions a few times. We cowboy camped among the giant rock formations before waking up the next morning and hitting up the cafe in Agua Dulce. As we waited after breakfast for Josh’s ride, we were offered a ride to Hiker Heaven by a man pulling up in a truck. Of course we accepted and said our goodbyes to our friend, planning to meet up again in the sierras somewhere. Hiker Heaven is a piece of property owned by the Saufley’s where hikers are welcome to rest up and get ready for the second leg of the desert section. It was like a well oiled machine, over the years it’s clear that the Saufley’s have gotten their operation pretty fine tuned. Showers, laundry, and resupply were all quickly taken care of leaving time to hang out for the rest of the day. Shepard and I had planned to keep hiking but the peacefulness of this place couldn’t be missed and before long our old friends began to show up. Besides GWT and Red Riding Hood the whole Rat Pack made it in and it was great to catch up with everyone over some steaks and burgers on the grill. The next day we hung out again but around 5 I decided I was getting back on the trail. It was my one month trailiversary and I wanted to be hiking for it no matter how far. In the first mile I sat down and just enjoyed the ambiance of being in the middle of the desert. So much has happened in a month it was a hard task to sort through it all in my mind. From those nerve wracking first days to the feeling of invincibility I have now, it’s certainly been a wild ride. I ended up making it 13 miles that night before finally throwing down my sleeping bag in a little clearing. The next morning was hot despite the early hours I was hiking at. I took breaks every few hours in whatever shade I could find. By noon I had made it to the Anderson’s house, aka Casa De Luna, aka Hippie Daycare. I finally caught up with GWT and Red Riding Hood, the others behind me now. The vibe of this place is far different than that of hiker heaven. The first thing you’re required to do when arriving is to put on a Hawaiian shirt and paint a rock. The Hawaiian shirt is so you don’t have to look down at your hiking clothes, the idea is that it will help relax you more. The rocks create the art of their yard, each containing a piece of trail history from the years past. The camping area in the backyard was within a manzanita forest, such a unique spot to pitch up. Terrie Anderson greets everyone who comes with a hug and when asked why she lets strangers into her house her answer is simple,
“They’re not strangers, they’re just friends I haven’t met yet.”
Thank you terry for the amazing hospitality and the joy of your company.
We were fed taco salad for dinner and pancakes for breakfast. Another zero day was totally called for, this was the first place I’ve been where I’ve actually been able to not think about the trail at all and completely relax. Sitting around with all my hiker trash friends painting rocks was a fantastic way to spend two days. I fee motivated now to get through the tail end of this desert section, on to Kennedy meadows where the mountains will grow tall and be covered in snow.
April 4 – We woke up to more pancakes at Casa De Luna and hung around for a bit before packing up and getting back to the trail. It was so hard to leave this place, taking off my Hawaiian shirt was mandatory to get anything done. Back in hiking mode, I set off to get a ride around the last closure we have to deal with for a while, the powerhouse fire closure. B and I got a ride all the way around it from the second car that went by, a very pleasant surprise. After the road, we had to hike two miles on a side trail to get back to the PCT. Within our first steps we encountered a rattlesnake sprawled out on the trail, the first I’ve seen up close and personal. As we stood a foot away looking at him he quickly assumed attack position, rattling loudly as he slithered away.
The day had become hot so I let B go on while I took off some layers. Red Riding Hood and GWT caught up and we had some lunch while deciding to head to a campsite 14 miles out, leaving ten to the “hiker town” hostel where I have a package waiting for me. The side trail was super steep and I got lost for about half a mile at one point but once I was back on the PCT the landscape was well worth it. Forests of oak were mixed with grassy meadows for miles as we walked on a ridge with the our next destination, the Mojave Desert, directly below us. It felt good to be in a green tunnel again, the forest floor was full of grass and miners lettuce. The meadows created a wave as the gusty winds blew through the mountains. After topping out at around 5700 feet we began to drop again, heading down to hiker town and the desert floor. At the 500 mile mark I took a break for lunch to celebrate, but it wasn’t as good a feeling as I anticipated it would be. That feeling will come at Kennedy Meadows. The wind began to pick up as I arrived at the horse spring camp where my friends were waiting for me. I got my tent pitched and cooked dinner before it got too cold to stay outside any longer and we all retreated to our nests. It was a low mile day but I’m pretty beat, maybe because of all the time off lately. I’m dreaming of the mountain house meals that I hope will be in my box tomorrow..
April 5 – Strong winds lasted all night and into the morning but the sunrise over the Mojave Desert from our camp was well worth crawling out of my sleeping bag for. The cold temperature inspired me to quickly pack up and get going. The trail shot straight down for a while before getting into some pointless ups and downs . The lush green forest from the day before was a thing of the past, dry chaparral was the only thing surrounding me now. After the final descent to the valley, I walked through some farmland in the middle of nowhere for a final mile to HWY 138. To the right was a trailer park sort of place known as Hiker Town. It’s a large piece of property owned by a Hollywood film director who has set it up to look like an old western town for hikers. I would have been in and out to grab my package but the storm that was being predicted was already barreling over the mountains headed my way so I figure a nights stay couldn’t hurt even though I’m so dead set on making it to Kennedy meadows in the next week or two. A bed and shower felt good though and as I lay here typing this I have no regrets.. The sierras are still socked in with snow and whatever time I can kill until then will only help me.
April 6 – After a night of watching movies and sleeping in a real bed we ended up waiting around even longer at hiker town waiting for the tail end of the storm to pass. The sky was black and showers happened on and off. I took advantage of my bed and watched another movie, called my parents, and went through my bag as I waited for the clouds to pass. Around 3 the sky began to look a little better, and I was quick to jump on the weather window. From Hiker Town the trail would follow the LA Aqueduct across the antelope valley for a completely flat and exposed 20 miles. The cloud cover was really nice for such a brutal section. I cut across farmlands for a few miles before reaching the aqueduct, a large river of green murky water. For 3 miles I walked along the bank, then on a large pipe for nearly ten, Los Angeles’ water supply flowing beneath me. I passed by an abandoned she’d just as it began to rain again and sought refuge until it stopped. Shortly after the rag tag houses of the desert ceased to exist and I was surrounded by forests of Joshua Trees for the first time. The new scenery made the hike much more interesting, but the flat terrain made it feel like I wasn’t even moving. A rainbow popped up raising my spirits and as the sun began to set I arrived at my first wind farm. The cottonwood creek faucet lay soon after where I found a large tent city. It was nearing nine so I decided to call it a day as well, now I’m cowboy camped with the sound of the windmills whooshing in the background.
April 7 – I got out of camp early this morning, I was on the trail by 6:15 walking through the wind farm, each windmill standing tall like a monolith and whooshing loudly in the wind. I don’t much like the wind farms, it’s obviously really windy and the sound they make is far from peaceful. On top of that it just seems no progress is being made because you’re surrounded by the windmills, each view is the same as the previous. The trail remained flat for another 4 miles before skyrocketing back up into the mountains and then straight back down to Tylerhorse Canyon where there was a stream. I took a break under the shade of a large tree. It was only 9 but the sun was already intense. This desert section is clearly much more brutal than the miles I’ve already walked. Luckily it was still pretty cloudy out making it more bearable. From Tylerhorse the trail climbed another 5 miles and then dropped again much lower than before. As I descended I could see the trail in the distance switch backing up and up and up, I cursed its inconsistency. The ascent was deadly, for miles I went up with no break. The clouds began to part hearing things up a little bit, it all added up to probably be my toughest day on the trail so far this year. 3000 feet of ascent later it flattened up for a while while I walked on top of the ridge. The trees were all burnt but it was still a really pretty stretch made better by the trail magic of water and apples lying halfway through it. I was so beat by the time I was heading back down, and all I could see in the distance were windmills. It was so much windier than the first one I had walked through earlier in the day but I quickly pushed through and made it to the road leading to Tehachapi where hiker B and Wild Turtle were waiting on their ride to town. Red Riding Hood and I linked up with them and got a motel room in town. 24 miles in 8 hours, it’s been a hell of a day. Next stop, Kennedy Meadows in 150 miles.