Started: 18:00 @ MM 454.5 – Agua Dulce, Hiker Heaver aka The Saufley’s (Elevation 2,537ft)
Finished: 13:00 @ MM 478.2 – Green Valley, Casa de Luna aka The Anderson’s
Water: Drank about 3L, 1L Cream Soda, 1L Root Beer and bottomless coffee.
Food: Oatmeal, Granola Bar, Gummie Bears, Salami & Cheese Tortilla, Nuts, Twinkies, PBJ Tortilla, 2 Crunch Crisp Ice-Cream, Sausage, Smash & Veggies, Taco Salad, Pancakes.
Wildlife: 1 Tarantula, 1 Terrie Anderson
Health: 0 Blisters, weird pain in heel of right foot!
So after a lengthy period of procrastination I finally mustered the energy to leave Hiker Heaven. They have a 2 night, 3 day maximum stay and it’s easy to understand why! The daytime temperatures had been steadily creeping higher and higher during my time in Heaven and so I decided to leave late in the day, make the climb to the Bear Spring in the cool of the early evening, camp about 10 miles in and then continue on to Green Valley in the relative cool early the next morning. I reluctantly left The Saufley’s at 6pm with a heavy pack … My food bag alone weighed almost 10lbs!!About a mile in, Pillow Talk caught up with me and we walked most of the way together. We reached the trickle of water at Bear Spring around 8pm. I took a couple of liters of what looked like pond water once it was in my bottle. We continued on for another few miles to a camp and water cache. It gets really dark really quick in the desert and this was my first taste of night hiking. Although the temperature was most agreeable the walking was less so. Even with a really good head torch, it was difficult to make out the uneven terrain and the risk of tripping or twisting an ankle increased dramatically. As a consequence my pace decreased dramatically. I was also less than impressed with the nocturnal wildlife. There were millions of flying bugs swarming around my head, spider webs and a massive Tarantula !!! Turns out I had completely missed the memo on Tarantulas. Pillow Talk asked “hadn’t you wondered what lived in those big holes?” … I explained the ignorance is bliss theory!At some time after Hiker Midnight we arrived at camp. There were already a bunch of tents set up and hikers sleeping, some soundly others loudly. We found some space and pitched as well as possible in the loose ground. It was too late for cooking so I made do with a salami and cheese tortilla and some Gummie Bears. I slept really well in the warm air on a wonderfully flat pitch … Flat ground was the only thing missing in Heaven!The next morning we made an early start to get the final 14 miles finished up before it got too hot. As a plan it was pretty sound, unfortunately in practice it didn’t work out so well … even by my reptilian standards, it was blistering hot by 9am. I guzzled water and plodded along. I came across Curious George on a shady bench, it was too good to pass up so I rested for a while. The final hour was a struggle and I was really grateful that it was all downhill. The trail eventually spat me out on the road where I made a left and headed for another Trail Angel’s home.So it seems that Trail Angels are a lot like buses … You don’t see one for ages and then two come along at once. Green Valley was the home of Casa de Luna aka The Anderson’s. Although Terrie Anderson is exactly like Donna Saufley in terms of her incredible generousity and love of thru-hikers, it is about there that all similarities stop! Casa de Luna very accurately describes itself as “Hippie Daycare”. The place certainly has a unique charm and a definite 60s commune feel about it. All the inmates are outfitted in very fetching Hawaiian shirts, beer drinking and pot smoking is actively encouraged and 3 days seems to be the minimum length of stay rather than the maximum. However, the real charm of Casa de Luna for me is the magical Manzanita Forest where you can pitch your tent and just nap in the cool shade beneath the trees … which is exactly what I did for a day and a bit!Casa de Luna is the perfect example of a Vortex. It’s a place that sucks you in and doesn’t allow you to leave. It certainly wasn’t the luxury facilities that held me here. To describe the place as Shabby Chic would probably be overly generous. Things were very “rustic” but it’s idyosincratic charm was captivating and reminded me of more than a few places where I’d spent far too much time during my more “experimental” years.Leaving Casa de Luna was further complicated by yet another trail closure. This basically meant a 15 mile road walk or hitching. Neither of these options filled me with much joy so I decided to hang out until the trail provided a more attractive option. Tomorrow I would reach escape velocity … Tomorrow I would leave … Mañana … Mañana!