It was a slow morning leaving the Acton KOA. We had a rough night sleeping with the trains, but we eventually got up and left. Shortly after leaving we passed the ‘Golden Spike’ for the trail. It seems the trail was only officially finished and connected in 1995. A very hot morning climb later, and we were on top of the ridge overlooking Agua Dulce. We only had to drop down and walk through the Vasquez Rocks.
It really suprised Kristin, she wasn’t expecting what we got. From the photos below you can see these fantastic rock formations. We were feeling very tired, hot and sore, so we soon moved on into Agua Dulce. We were soon drinking a 2l Dr Pepper and chowing on some snacks we picked up at the grocery store. Thankfully about 0.2 of a mile into the 1 mile walk to Hiker Heaven, Jeff Saufley (Owner of Hiker Heaven) picked us up and drove us the rest of the way!
There are many many tales that we can tell of our short 48 hour stay at Hiker Heaven, but we’ll try and condense them for now! We also bumped into an old friend of ours, Burning Daylight! Donna had given him a call and he had come over to help run the place (they see about ~50 hikers a day). It was a awesome surprise to be able to see him again over the next 2 days.
- We were able to get to REI so Kristin could pick up some new shoes.
- Kristin had her first In-and-Out burger, animal style!
- We got to sleep on a real bed in a horse trailer! (Don’t worry it was a separate compartment to where the horses stand)
- We enjoyed scrumptious omelet’s for breakfast at the Sweetwater Cafe (Bacon, Cheddar and Avo. Mmmm.)
- We ate very well, having hot dogs, ice cream and lots of snacks.
After our 2nd night there (they allow hikers to stay 2 nights so they can Zero) we headed out early in the morning, not looking forward to the steep climb ahead of us. Fortunately for us, there was a low cloud that lasted till almost lunch time, and this made the first climb of the day more enjoyable.
Down the other side of the ridge, and just as we arrived at the 7 mile mark for the day, a car pulled up. They were local Trail Angels restocking their Water Cache and trail magic. They gave us each a Pay Day bar, Gatorade and some Oranges to eat. Such an amazing treat! We didn’t hang around long though, Kristin wanted to push on up the hill for lunch, so we refilled what water we needed and headed up. It soon got very hot, and we cowered under some low bushes for a snack and some shade. Not liking the spot, we soon pushed on and found another spot for lunch in much deeper shade 2 miles on over the ridge.
After lunch we set off and after 19 miles for the day, we started feeling very tired, we kept looking for a nice place to camp but couldn’t settle on anything. Eventually we found a wide enough dry stream bed in one of the many gullies. We had set up camp and everything, but i wasn’t happy with the place at all. I convinced Kristin to pack up and we shuffled another 3 miles so that we could hopefully get to the Casa De Luna (The Andersons, more trail angels). With a 2 mile road walk in front of us, and no cars stopping to give us a ride, we begrudgingly set off down the road. Luckily after a mile, a kind man coming home from work pulled over and offered us a ride, we were very grateful. It had been a long 23 mile day.
The Andersons are a little less organised than the Saufelys, but it certainly doesn’t limit them in how they cater amazingly for the hikers coming through. As we arrived, there were about 30 hikers sitting outside on the driveway eating dinner. We were told to quickly put on our Hawaiian shirts and get some dinner. Dinner was a huge spread of taco chips, beans ,tomatoes, guacamole, onions, olives, sour cream and more! We quickly gobbled it all down and set off to find a spot for our tent ‘out back’ . Out back ended up being this huge labyrinth of campsites in a densely packed forest. There were little groves of 4 or 5 campsites, but most of them were hidden and so spread out that it was quite eery walking through the forest looking for a place to pitch our tent.
We had a slow morning the next day, recovering from our long day previously. However soon after lunch we were able to barter a ride to the trail head, not before stopping briefly at the Rock Inn for some Cherry Pie. The trail is closed from another fire from were we stopped (478) to about mile 492. Luckily, the access back up to the trail via the Upper Shake Canyon, placed us at 493, so were didn’t miss much. It was a wonderful day of hiking though, most of the day we traversed along the side of the ridge in the forest. We soon made it to the Sawgill Campground at mile 498, just shy of mile 500. It was a windy night but our tent stood firm, and now that I know how to pitch it properly, it stands up much better to strong winds than I would have guessed.
Tomorrow we hit mile 500! More of that in the next blog post.