Well, truth be told, we are having way too much fun on the Amtrak from Bakersfield to Seattle. We reserved a roomette for the slightly less than 30 hour train ride to Seattle.
Papa took us to the train. Thanks!!
Rob gave Papa his PCT pin he received in Wrightwood
I have never taken a long train ride like this, much less with our own little private space, so it has been a great new experience. It does feel a bit odd not to be on trail and to look at the mountains rather than be in them. Even more odd to think that we will be separated from the trail for a week or more.
Friday happy hour on the train
The PCT has become our home. A part of my soul. At the same time, we are really looking forward to spending time with friends in Seattle, seeing The Xx in concert and celebrating my birthday. We haven’t made arrangements for how or when we are returning to trail but we know it won’t be very long. We both are enjoying hiking prior to the crowds setting in and the pleasant weather we have been fortunate to experience. We won’t stay gone too long! After enjoying our train ride we are both leaning towards another train back. Very relaxing and enjoyable. Doesn’t hurt that the scenery is great too. Currently, we are passing through Portland. We won’t be updating the blog during our break, but as soon as we get back on our beloved trail you will know it. It’s been an unbelievable adventure that Daddie Gizmo and I have been on these last 5 1/2 weeks. It reinforced my belief that this is where I belong – in nature, exploring, meeting like-minded people and being free. We are both the happiest we have been in a long time.
We will be picking up the trail where we left off…still a little less than 200 miles of desert to complete. More to come soon!!!❤️
We woke up to overcast skies at about 6:30 am and knew we had a short day of only 9 miles today. After rolling over and going back for a snooze it was suddenly 10 am so time to get up and hit the trail.
A teensy bit windy that day
Our camp spot was at 5200 ft so we had a long elevation loss, gain and loss again to get down to the desert floor and our next stopping point. It was cold to start, but we were in the heat of the day n sun once we were down about 2500 ft. We were lucky that there was a cool breeze that really helped us make good time today. We had also eaten our pack weight down over the previous 5 days so we were hiking light and fast. As we hit the backside foothills of the mountain we also reappeared into a mass of desert flowers.
Lots of poppies – the CA state flower
Felt a little strange coming off the trail knowing that we wouldn’t be back on for a week or so. If this were really the end, I would have bawled – Figure 8
We crisscrossed with Larry again who helped us out by sharing his water cache with us. By about 2 pm we cruised into Hikertown Hostel. It’s an odd little place but with a happy, generous host who showed us around, had 2 cold beers ready for us and some fresh made BBQ ribs. Showered, laundered and fed, we waited for 4 others in our second little Trail Family to get in. RocDoc and Larry arrived about the same time after a few hours and GalPal and WoodRat later. They had just come from the ER and learned that WoodRat had, indeed, fractured a bone in her foot and would need to see an Orthopedic Doc today. Wishing her well and a speedy recovery. Sad to know that it will take her and GalPal off the trail. We climbed into our nice Hostel “Honeymoon Suite” and were out cold eager to start the next day of our adventure to Seattle.
– We hit 500 miles of hiking through California!! We feel accomplished 😊
– I finally saw some large wildlife. A coyote! But only the back of it as it came out of the brush and on the trail in front of me
– Rob completed the first 20+ mile day of either of us. He did a 2.5 mile loop to get water that put him over
– I saw horses on the trail! Always wanted to, but didn’t realize I would be so startled when I did. All of a sudden 3 came around a bend and I jumped at the sight of them. They are very graceful on trail.
– We hit a water source that we were counting on and it was DRY! The fact that at nearly 500 miles this was the first time we had a small water crisis in the desert is AMAZING! This is also how Daddie Gizmo added his bonus miles.
– We had to go 3.5 miles further at the end of the day than we really wanted to. We were both tired with sore feet, but a different water source that we thought we may camp by did not look very clean. We hadn’t felt pressured previously to move forward, but today it made sense so we could have better drinking water from a spring ahead.
The trail was really beautiful in this little field
We saw Larry again on the trail today and he made it up to the same campsite as ourselves before dark. We were beat by the end of the day and knew we had just one more day to hike before our planned break. We soaked up the last night of camping on top of a mountain for a while.
After a big hiker breakfast of black coffee, lots of pancakes and a beer at the Andersen’s, we were able to sign the PCT Class of 2017 banner, pose for a pic with everyone that was there that morning and receive our 2017 Class Bandana.
The famous Casa De Luna photo…it’s called house of the moon for the little surprise Terri gives you while Joe takes the photo
Rob’s trail name signed
Lacy’s trail name signed
We took our time chatting, hugging with everyone and expressing our great thanks to our Trail Angel hosts for there generosity and hospitality. It is crazy to think that they will have 50+ people a night camping in their back acreage and feeding them every night for almost 2 months during the peak of hiker season. RockDoc and Galpal were going to get some lunch so we decided to tag along. More food that my body desperately needed and inhaled as fast as it could. We suited up for misty rain and began our hiking day at noon.
Bundled up for rain, but it turned out to be very little
A cool misty day makes for great, easy hiking
It was a welcome cool after the last 2 days of desert heat. It cleared about 3 hours later and we were able to reach out camp site mostly dry except for our shoes which will still likely be soaked in the morning. It’s not a good idea to build an open fire in this part of the desert that could have dried things out. 3 pairs of socks and always a clean dry pair in reserve are coming in handy tonight. Today’s elevation was 4000 gained and 2500 lost. These numbers were very difficult for us be beginning but almost routine for us after 5 weeks. Tomorrow should be about the same. One member of our new trail family, Hurricane, switches trails tomorrow and we will miss him being on the PCT. Thanks again for all the comments and positive energy from everyone following our journey.
This morning we packed up out of Agua Dulce and hit the trail north by 8:30.
View back on Agua Dulce
We followed this reservoir today
We were banking on the fact that there was still a trickle of water 7 miles out so that we didn’t have to start the day with 4 liters of water each. At 2.2 pounds per liter that makes your pack feel like you just shoved a baby in it. Heavy! The trail to Bear Spring, where we would learn if we were stupid or not to only carry 2 liters of water each, was straight up.
Signing the registry
It was already getting hot and combination of the steep elevation slowed our pace a bit, but we were rewarded with the tiniest trickle of water! We also saw more of those weird statues.
This trickle will work!
What is with these…?
We spent 90 minutes relaxing and filling up before getting back on trail to complete the last 8 miles of the day. It was at this time that we ran into Larry. He is hiking from Agua Dulce to Tehachapi and prepared for battle with bear spray and all. He met up with this later where we camped and we all shared our frustrations that we carried full water the last 8 miles, but there were plenty of flowing streams. We heard that those streams haven’t flowed in years and locals were surprised that they have water now. They probably won’t flow for much longer, but it would have made the last 8 miles of the day more pleasant had we known that beforehand. So…to help the people behind us, we update the water report as soon as we had service again. We had a dinner of function, not taste – instant mashed potatoes with a summer sausage. The highlight of our not was drinking got chocolate in our sleeping bags and eating cookies 😊.
I guess they have a problem here with dropping animals…?
Today was a really really great day. I woke up in an exceptionally sparkly mood. We had a bunch of little adventures spread throughout our ten mile hike into Agua Dulce. The trail runs right through the town. Fortunately, this is the only time we have walked on a paved road through a town as part of the trail. We left the KOA and said see you later to Woodard, Galpal and Rockdoc. Hurricane left before we even woke up. He was really quiet. Never heard him pack up. We had to go through a drainage tunnel under the highway at one point. It offered good shade for a break at the end of it. I had rinsed some of my clothes in the sink at the KOA and still needed to dry a few so this was as good a time as any to throw them in the sun.
Right before the tunnel we saw some strange clay sculptures in a grouping on the side of the trail. Rob thought it marked a dog grave, but then we saw another grouping of the same sculptures in the Vazquez Rocks area.
Strange, but I like it! The rock formations in the Vazquez Rock area were really spectacular. We used it as a backdrop for some Gizzie photos.
When we approached the main park area we noticed a lot of people milling around so we walked over to see what was going on. We were pretty shocked when we saw there was a band set up, people walking around in costumes and what appeared to be some sort of play. After standing there and looking around at what seemed like a strange scene to stumble upon we realized it’s Easter weekend! We spoke with someone handing out flyers and confirmed that it was indeed an Easter play. Apparently they do a Saturday show that gets about 800 people and a second show Sunday morning at dawn that Is standing room only. Having these huge rocks as the backdrop to their play is pretty unique. I thought a play at 2p in the blazing heat with no shade seemed a little odd as far timing, but the place was packed. From there we went to the information center and looked around at some of the history. Many many movies have been filmed at Vazquez Rocks – planet of the apes, Star Trek, lots of westerns. We also saw our first rattlesnake…in a cage at the center. We know they are around us because people have warned us on trail that there is one around a bend etc, but we have yet to see one ourselves. We got a good laugh out of finally seeing one under those circumstances. From there the trail ran directly through town passing the grocery store and a cafe. We opted to do the cafe and get a salad which we later regretted. They were having some chef crisis and it took 30 minutes to get a salad – with nothing cooked on it. Totally ridiculous. Even more so cause we were trying to eat fast and get to the wineries before they closed at 5. We didn’t even know this town had wineries until we saw a sign advertising one 30 minutes before, but it was pretty clear we were going. When we finally got our food and got out of the cafe we made a beeline for the Agua Dulce Winery. It was terrible. The wine had so much sediment in it and had a very strong alcohol taste. Worst wine tasting ever. We actually gave our red wine back it was so gross. Best part of that place was a guy we met who was in awe of our doing the hike and said he wanted to hike the PCT one day too. We hoofed it down the street a half mile to get to the other winery in hopes it would be better. Thankfully, it was! Not world class wines, but drinkable at least. We had a nice chat about our hike with a woman who lives in the area. On our way out we met another woman who was also applauding us for our hike. Rob is always really careful to say we “made” the time, not “took” the time for the hike. We planned a lot. We ran into so many people today who just loved the fact that we set out to do this. Some say we are their hero. It’s kind of crazy but I guess we made an out of the box move and people recognize it. We were a little tipsy by the time we were done at the second winery and had to decide what to do for the night. Hiker Heaven is a trail angels house a few miles from where we were. It’s supposed to be great. Almost everyone goes there and hangs out, sleeps, does laundry and just generally commiserates. Rob had another plan though. We bought a bottle of wine and then sneakily camped under some trees by the road overlooking the vineyard. It was a great way to end the day.
Making dinner in our sneaky campspot
After a little wine…
We love these white butterflies with orange tips. We see them all the time in the desert
We got up early because we knew the day’s itinerary would be a game of hop-scotch. I had drawn up a semi-elaborate plan to bypass the ice on Mt. Baden Powell, rejoin the trail, take a little hitch around a new fire closure and also loop around a 4 mile endangered frog closure. We started down from the top of the mountain about 2 1/2 miles to my first target area. We were immediately thwarted and my plan out the window when the regular road portion of Hwy 2 was closed due to ice. Using this stretch of Hwy 2 was to be 2 legs of my plan today. One to hike and one to hitch. I noticed a man in his car with a defeated look on his face, furiously looking through maps, likely going through the same thought process I was. “Well… What now??” I introduced myself and, sure enough, he was taking a driving tour of the mountains and now stuck not wanting to backtrack the same way he came in. With the GPS on my phone, I helped show him a desert mountain reroute that might help us both. His name was Collin and he was from the UK. He was up for the plan and dropped us along the highway near Acton. A little local bar provided cheap beer and a cheeseburger while we reset our plans. I really didn’t want to miss the hike up Baden Powell but we are just too early in the season. There were 2 rescues there just in the last few days so we just couldn’t take the risk. We will definitely come back later in the year to spend 2 days on the mountain. We made our way to the KOA campground to spend the night. It is also exactly where the fire closure ends and where we wanted to get back on the trail at the end of my original plan. The KOA was also the home for the night of Hurricane who is from New Zealand and the trio of Woodrat, Galpal and RockDoc. It was a good hot shower for us and a chance to grill for dinner. Lace scored some expensive freeze dried meals from the hiker box for dinners this next week and the KOA has a little store that had a dozen kinds of Hagen Das ice cream which we both indulged in our tent before going to sleep.
Speaking of tents. Ultralight. Ultralight. It’s the way to go. We love ours but didn’t know if a floor space of 50″ x 80″ was going to be too tight for us or not so much. As it turns out, our mattress pads are 25″ wide so they perfectly fill the floor with no cold ground spots. Our tent is basically just a fancy mosquito net attached to a thin floor. It’s zero privacy but the stars n moon view we get every night is worth it. We have only used the rainfly 4 nights of 32. We also picked a model that had 2 side doors. This way we can each get in and out of the tent without disturbing the other. So far it has worked out great. If you’re buying a tent for backpacking, I’d firmly nudge you toward the lightest smallest tent you can afford. A very small footprint also helps you set up in little niche flat spots along the twisty and steep mountain trails like on the PCT. With an added ground cloth, 4 sand spikes, 4 nail spikes and a little extra tie down cord, we still come in under 2 pounds. It’s so very worth the extra dollars to me to carry a pound or two less in base weight.
Before we were even out of our sleeping bags we heard Rockdoc, Woodrat and Galpal coming around the mountain. We said good morning and they came into the little hollow on the side of the trail where we set up camp last night. We chatted a bit and said we would catch up with them later today at the Andersen’s house.
Not sure what this is on trail
Signing the registry – one of my favorite things to do!
Stopping on trail for a bite to eat while enjoying the view on the way to the Andersen’s
They are another very popular trail angel 7 miles from where we started this morning. They have been hosting people for 18 years!! We passed Larry again on trail and made it to the Andersens by 1pm with beer and Oreos to share. Hurricane had arrived last night and since he is leaving to begin the Continental Divide Trail on Wednesday he is staying here until then. The Andersen’s have a backyard that stretches far back and is filled with probably 50 little campsites tucked into corners and under manzanita. Rocks hand painted by hikers over the years were placed all through out the property. Terri and Joe welcome stinky hikers (and believe me, I feel like I’m at my smelliest right now) into their home during hiker season. They are still just getting set up now since we are still early in the crowd. We set up camp, passed the afternoon all hanging out in the backyard and were later welcomed with a big embrace from Terri herself.
Rockdoc, Galpal and Woodrat hanging at the Andersen’s
We all shared a hearty and delicious dinner of rice, baked beans, coleslaw and BBQ. Daddie Gizmo is feeling the hiker hunger recently. He had 3 plates of food. The Andersen’s, aka Casa De Luna, is known for being a party house and getting crowds of 50-60 hikers staying there in a night and it’s easy to get sucked in and stay longer. Hurricane said he was there 5 nights when he hiked the PCT in 2010 and there is another story of someone staying 5 weeks! Terri had some great stories to share from over the years. The six of us, however, were in our tents nice and early.
We woke up today in the clouds. Physically and mentally. We had this whole beautiful mountain top camping area to ourselves and, as the sunrise began, I realized I could see the trees 10 ft away from me but not the ones 25 ft away. The clouds were moving so very fast through our campsite and the meadow beside us. I’m sure I’ve never really seen clouds move past me in front of my eyes as fast as a little bird could fly before. We both rolled over n slept in some more. I was craving some coffee an hour later so we got up and I started a new fire. We had a great hikers breakfast of cake and hotdogs. The sun was trying to peek through the clouds but the fire in the big fire ring was good enough to keep us plenty warm. It didn’t take us long to talk about staying here for the rest of the day. We decided that we could slack pack a mile away and back for more water so we could cook dinner, make hot chocolate and have plenty for our leg out tomorrow. We need to move at a certain pace to complete the PCT before early winter starts in Washington state but we have also decided that we wouldn’t pass up a beautiful camp site even if it didn’t meet our miles goal for the day or use our newfound freedom to soak in all that nature has when we have a place like this one to enjoy. I’m 5 chapters into a Tom Clancy novel and Lace is napping beside me. The fire is low enough to stay alive but not need tending for awhile. Little Woodpeckers and Finches are chasing each other all around as the sun goes in and out of the clouds now. Maybe I’ll nap too.
Rob enjoying his coffee
Thanks S&K for the coffee!
Evening by Lacy
Today was the first real nap I have taken since we began this adventure. Granted I have layed under a thimble of shade in the desert and passed out from shear exhaustion in the middle of the day from the sun, but that does not compare to the divine two hour nap I had smushed up in my sleeping bag. I feel asleep to the sound of the wind in the trees and slept hard. When I woke about 2:30 it was clear that the surrounding clouds had settled into our campsite. We walked a mile back on the trail to get some more water and by the time we came back we had just enough time to enjoy another fire and dinner before the rain started. Rob read more and I feel asleep early to the sounds of rain and wind. It was delightful. This was my favorite zero day so far because it was so relaxed and we literally hung out in a cloud.
Well, we did it – 30 days! Of those 30, we have hiked at least a little bit 27 of them!
We loved waking up in a smushy bed this morning and were completely relaxed knowing we weren’t going to leave town until this afternoon. In Cajon we had forgotten our Luci Light (inflatable camp light we like in the tent) in the Best Western and when I called, the lady I spoke with said she would be in Wrightwood today getting her hair done. Perfect – we would relax until 2:30 when we would meet her. After enjoying the comfortable guest bed this morning that Rich offered us we got coffee and breakfast, walked around town, signed the hiker registry and got our PCT pins before heading back to Rich’s to game plan our next segment and pack up. We hitched a ride back to Inspiration Point and only planned on going 2 miles up from the trailhead that intersects the PCT so that we could camp and and get a fresh start tomorrow morning. We settled down on Jackson Flat which has grills so we got some hot dogs to grill, invited our good friend Jim Beam, and made a big fire for the first time since we began. It was a great night. We had the entire peak to ourselves and enjoyed a lovely view, dinner and some drinks. A great end to the day. We may even hang around here late tomorrow since it’s so nice and we literally have no agenda and nowhere we need to be. Living on the fly is treating us well 💞