Started: 09:30 @ MM 444.3 – Acton KOA (Elevation 2,259ft)
Finished: 13:00 @ MM 454.5 – Agua Dulce, Hiker Heaver aka The Saufley’s (Elevation 2,537ft)
Water: Drank about 2L, 1 can Diet Coke and bottomless Dr Pepper.
Food: Oatmeal, Granola Bar, Snickers, Popcorn, Chicken Caesar Salad, Giant Pizza, Butter Fingers Ice-Cream
Wildlife: 8 Dogs, 6 Chickens, 3 Horses and a pack of Coyotes!
Health: 0 Blisters, 1 uncomfortable food baby!
The last 6 days has been the toughest section so far. I have hiked through snow, hail, freezing conditions, long dry stretches and most of the time on my own. I have started to feel the first pangs of Hiker Hunger. Until last night, I hadn’t showered or washed properly for almost a week. My clothes stink. My food bag is almost empty. My legs are tired and I need a day off to recharge both mind and body. Thankfully the perfect remedy is just a short 10 mile walk away!The Acton KOA was certainly not the most peaceful campground I’ve ever stayed at. Nestled between the highway and the railway, even my trusty earplugs struggled to fend off the racket. Nevertheless, I still managed to enjoy one of the best nights sleep I’ve had all week, thanks to the balmy nighttime temperatures and the billiard board flat pitch. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have come to appreciate a flat bit of ground! Knowing that we only had 10 miles to cover, True Irish and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, eventually setting off sometime after nine.The day’s relatively short walk took us down to Highway 14 and on to the magical Vasquez Rocks County Park. We made good progress down to the Highway but when we emerged on the other side of the tunnel our pace was slowed by the stunning natural beauty. It was like walking onto a Star Wars set. We ambled around the rocks, lost the trail, found it again and eventually made our way out of the park to Agua Dulce.Agua Dulce is pretty unique in that it is one of only a handful of towns that the trail passes right through. Most trail towns are actually several miles off town. However, the thing that makes Agua Dulce really special are the legendary Trail Angels … Jeff and Donna Saufley. Every year (2015 was the exception) the Saufley’s open up their home to PCT thru-hikers. The very appropriately named Hiker Heaven offers hikers a place to rest, recover and re-supply. An amazing team of helpers takes care of your laundry, gives rides into town and deals with your postal needs. There are loaner clothes, sewing machines, hair clippers, an arsenal of hiker boxes, TV with Netflix, WiFi, a seemingly endless supply of hot water, clean towels, toiletries … You name it, they provide it and all without any charge !!! They do accept donations and these are given generously by the majority of hikers.
I was “checked in” by Donna herself and the thing that struck me immediately was her amazing energy and presence. She exuded warmth, professionalism and authority with a relaxed and laid back undercurrent that immediately made you feel 100% at home. Once I’d scraped my jaw up off of the ground … I was truly gob-smacked by the generousity and efficiency with which this place was run … I headed off to find my old hiking buddy, Chance.Unsurprisingly, he was pitched down in the introverts area. I found a spot next to him, in the shade between the chicken coop and the corral. It wasn’t the flattest piece of ground in the world but it would do. The horses seemed to take a great deal of interest in the new arrival. The proximity to the corral also provided a few more unusual background noises! After I had taken care of the essentials (shower and laundry), Chance and I headed down to Big Mouth Pizza Co to eat our own body weight in salad and pizza!I would spend the next day here in Heaven resting my aching legs, catching up with trail friends, eating, and organizing my re-supply. It was a much needed time for rest and relaxation. The biggest problem I had was leaving … this place is like the original Hotel California!