Started: 08:00 @ MM 478.2 – Green Valley, Casa de Luna aka The Anderson’s (Elevation 2,945ft)
Finished: 19:00 @ MM 517.6 – Hiker Town (Elevation 3,050ft)
Water: Drank about 3L and bottomless coffee.
Food: Pancakes, Cheese, Nuts, Cliff Bar, Figs, Granola Bar, Teriyaki Noodles & Tuna.
Wildlife: 1 Snake, 0 Bears
Health: 0 Blisters, very sore feet all day!
I needed to escape the vortex that is Casa de Luna! The only way this could happen was if I woke up and immediately started to break camp before my mind had a chance to realize what was going on! The main problem for me was the quality of sleep I was experiencing in the Magical Manzanita Forest. It was without a doubt the best nights sleep I’d had on trail (including the Best Western in Cajon Pass). I woke up just after six and immediately got busy. I needed to keep up the momentum, I needed to reach escape velocity. I almost fell at the final hurdle … coffee and pancakes … but I stayed focused and by 8am Pillow Talk and I were standing on the San Francisquito Canyon Road with out little cardboard sign and our thumbs out.
The first order of business was to deal with yet another fire closure. The alternate was basically a 12 mile road walk. I was not keen. We decided to hitch to Shake Valley Campground where the closure finished and we could get back on trail. Hitchhiking in America is a curious experience. I’m not typically one to pigeonhole social classes, but it’s pretty easy to work out who will give you a ride and who won’t. High-end Mercedes, Lexus and the like, they are right out … not a chance! Soccer mum, child movers, right out too. Your best bet when you look like a hobo (and more often than not smell like one too) is a pick up. These guys have got it totally sussed, they don’t even need to talk to you let alone smell you … And so it came to pass that our first ride was in the back of a pick up. That got us halfway, the second was a little more random; a Salvadorian woman taking her boyfriend to work with her daughter in the back, who she proceeded to warn about “people” like us!
Finally, after a 2 ½ mile walk up a dirt road we were back on the PCT. It was a pretty cruisey, gentle up and down affair, for most of the day. There was plenty of shade and inspite of my feet feeling sore for much of the day, I made good progress. I was becoming a bit concerned about my shoes, it may all be in my head, but it felt as though they were losing some of their cushioning and support. They looked okay but it was definitely possible that the mid-soles were starting to break down. After all I had now conpleted 500 miles of trail and there was a lovely sign to prove it!
I reached Horse Trail Camp around 2 o’clock and concluded that it was too early to stop. This meant it would then be a 26 mile day as the 7 mile section beyond was private land and no camping was permitted. Pressing on seemed like a good idea at the time but when I was climbing the third consecutive totally pointless up and down, I was much less convinced! I spotted another hiker just up ahead and hobbled a little faster to catch up with him (or her … often it’s difficult to tell) mostly so that I could piss and moan to someone about the pointless ups and downs. It turned out to be Mandela, a long-arse section hiker who had only just started. He was literally on day 2 … oh the horror!
Meeting a newbie was a very eye opening experience for me. I had been on the trail now for exactly one month and as is so often the case, I had failed to notice my own growth and progress. Talking to Mandela made me very aware of how much I had adapted to life on the trail. Not only had I become physically much stronger but I had also become amazingly efficient at taking care of basic camp and trail stuff such as cooking, cleaning and even sleeping. My pack is super organized, I know where everything is and it is packed in such a way so that the things I need most often are always on hand. It wasn’t always so. Hiking with Mandela made the last few miles go by quickly and before I knew it we were at Hiker Town.
The minute that we reached Hiker Town and the flat desert badlands the wind started doing what it always seems to do in these parts … blowing it’s tits off! Hiker Town was pretty much exactly what everyone had told me it would be … Seriously sketchy! It was basically a random selection of RVs, trailers and old shipping containers. There were very peculiar “art installations” and just much general weirdness. It felt for all the world that I’d stumbled on to the film set of Mad Max meets The Hills Have Eyes, directed by David Lynch. I went into “City Hall” to escape the wind and cook my dinner. I had a quick rummage in the Hiker Box … A large bottle of anal relaxing lubricant was one of the more surprising finds. Hiker Town is definitely one of the trail’s more unique experiences!
I had planned to pitch my tent but later concluded it was much too windy for all that. Instead I decided to crash in Mandela’s space. He was staying in a box called the Doctor’s Room and basically his bed was a hospital trolley! I opened the door, squeezed inside and informed him that I was sleeping on his floor. He looked a bit shocked but didn’t put up too much of a fuss so I just made myself at home while he faffed around with his giant JetBoil and rummaged through his vast array of “stuff”. Meanwhile, next door in City Hall there was a full scale safety meeting in progress (a trail euphemism for weed smoking) … I guessed that they were trying to fathom out how to fit all six of them in there! Outside the desert continued to self destruct in the wind … I put my earplugs in and promptly drifted off into my own muffled world of weirdness.