Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 42: Mile 444.3 - Mile 458.7 + 1 mile to the Saufly's

I woke up around 1am to the sounds of coyotes yipping nearby and realized I had to pee. I thought it over and decided that if I were to get up to pee and then go back to sleep there would be no 3:30am 'wake-up-early-and-hike-to-beat-the-heat' type thing going on, so I let it ride. I woke again at 3:00am to the sounds of a lion roaring it's territory boundaries from a nearby zoo. The PCT is like Africa, it seems, in So Cal. Finally the alarm went off at 3:30 and I sat up and nudged Josh awake. We listened to our neighboring campers, who were not hikers, argue and attempt to clean up a mess in their tent. They were interesting people: a husband and wife living in a tent with their 5 dogs and 2 cats while their house is being sold. Wait, did you catch that? There were 7 animals (including a litter box and cat carriers) and 2 humans in a three man Big 5 style tent. That's hard times there, man.

We dressed, packed up our stuff and tossed it outside of the tent and I went to pee, finally. When I returned Josh pointed out a coyote running around between tents and cowboy camping hikers on the lawn. Josh, Far Out and I left camp around 4:20 and hiked by headlamp into the hills.

We crossed the railroad tracks after yielding to the Metrolink and I had to stop and change my headlamp batteries. We then proceeded to chug uphill for several miles. My calves were not awake and it was a hard push first thing in the morning. Eventually we leveled out for a while and meandered around huge rock formations. The moon was so bright you almost didn't need to wear a headlamp and the rock formations glowed against the night sky. I was feeling good and really enjoying watching the night turn to day and hiking in the cool air.

The sun broke the horizon and immediately we were blasted with bands of hot air. I looked at my phone and saw we only really had another half mile of uphil so we hiked with a purpose to knock it out before the heat. We were soon on a ridge looking down at Hwy 14 and we started our descent. We stopped briefly to eat and were passed by Alan Underkofer and his girlfriend whom we met on the PCT 2014 Facebook page. We bid them good morning and followed them down to a tunnel under the highway. The tunnel was in the same shape as the PCT logo sign which I know was not intentional but I thought was kind of cool.

After we passed thru the tunnel we were in Vasquez Rocks county park boundaries and things became beautiful! We walked thru a riparian canyon type area in between the amazing rock formations. There were informative signs labeling trees and shrubs and I slowed way down to take it all in. I don't know exactly what the deal is geologically with Vasquez Rocks, so you and I will have to google it to learn more but there were some serious geological layers exposed there and it reminded me of a mini Grand Canyon.

I focused again on the task at hand and we hiked again with purpose. We entered a picnic area and saw Far Out at a picnic table looking distressed. He has been having some complications from digestive issues and we talked about it at length whilst laughing. I love the trail, no where else can you talk about ass chafe, hemorrhoids or diarrhea so openly, even while eating! We all eat and fart and burp and blow snot rockets when ever we want to and are generally disgusting in a way that is totally endearing somehow.

We all pressed on as a group again thru Vasquez Rocks and walked the last mile or so, which is a road walk, into Agua Dulce. There we parted ways and Josh and I headed directly for the restaurant for breakfast and Far Out went to the Saufly's. Josh and I ate a glorious breakfast and talked with the locals followed by a trip to the grocery store to resupply. We then walked a mile or so to The Saufly's Hiker Heaven to siesta for the day.

We walked in the gate and greeted a beautiful blonde horse before heading up to the garage where we were given a tour. We told the volunteer that we were only going to siesta and hike out instead of taking a full zero like everyone usually does. Donna Saufly seemed perturbed by this and wanted us to stay. She asked why were weren't going to stay and I told her we had already taken several zeros and needed to make our miles. Which is true but I suppose there are more reasons why I didn't want to zero. 1) it's true, we've taken many zeros and I feel like we need to stay in the zone were in right now. 2) I'm anxious to get to Tehachapi where my dad will take us to Bakersfield to zero at his house, which may be the last time I see them before they move to Tennessee. 3) this is probably the most honest reason...the trail is about 60/40 for the mental aspect for me right now. I'm a major introvert (believe it or not) and being around that many people is not relaxing and rejuvenating to me. I feel like I get more bang for my zero buck if I stay in a hotel room where I can be quiet, sit around in my underwear and not have to 'be on'.

I felt bad, like I had offended her and that was so not my intention. Hiker Heaven is an AMAZING place and everyone there was awesome. I just did not want to take up the space when I didn't really need to and not allow someone who needed to zero and who needed their services a spot. Hopefully that's ok. I feel like I'm doing the PCT wrong a lot but it's just the way I know I need to do it. So there's that.

While at the Saufly's I got my box that Brita sent with my new shoes and inside was cookies!!! Uncle Eddies Vegan Cookies to be specific which all of you should go eat right now. I'm not vegan or vegetarian anymore but damn these are so good. We ate the cookies and shared them with other hikers while arranging our gear and downloading our photos to disk. After that we sat around and chatted with other hikers for the entire afternoon.

We finally packed up and got a ride back to town around 5 and ate dinner at the pizza place which was the best pizza we've has on trail so far. We ate with Far Out, Marry Poppins (who carries a plastic flamingo?!) and another couple and laughed about inappropriate dinner content like backpacking bidets and Preparation H. We filled up our water and headed back out to the trail around 6. It was hard to get going and Josh said he was feeling homesick which I could totally relate to. After a long road walk we joined a dirt road above a field where a movie was being filmed. We climbed steeply for a while and my pack was feeling insanely heavy with a full resupply and a gallon of water. We had hoped to get over the mountain that stands in our way from the Anderson's but as we dropped into a dried creek area and meadow we were both tired. Sleepy tired, not body tired and we realized we've been up since 3:30. We found a flat place to pitch and will try to hike our early tomorrow again.

Right now it's 9:30 and I'm listening to a pack of coyotes yip in the distance and trying not to freak myself out about the wildlife. I am proud of us, we only did about 15 miles today but that was sandwiched around a town visit which is always hard for us to escape from. We also did 10 miles before 10am which is a hikers right of passage. I learned, however, that 10 before 10 is less a measure of how awesomely fast you hike and more a measure of how early you get up in the morning. Tomorrow I need to get up early again so I'm calling it a night!

Until tomorrow, goodnight.

P.S.: I downloaded all my pix for the first half of today and deleted them from my phone so this post is missing so pix. Sorry about that!

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