Saturday, April 18, 2015

   I just spent a better part of a week out on the PCT, hiking section A and B. I really had no plans other than just hopping onto the trail and hiking with a friend [super classy]. She had started at the Mexican Border and was in the beginning of her dream of hiking the entire PCT.
   I parked my truck at Barrel Springs and hiked South, knowing she was hiking North in the San Felipe Hills. It was not long before I saw her just below the High Point. We united and began hiking North. She seemed to be doing well and was very cheery. The sky was clear and the temperature was nice in cool. Considering we were in one of the warmest stretches in the entire trail, it was nice. We met  up with some other hikers at Barrel Springs, ate some food and pushed onward. We ended up camping in a nice Oak grove.
   The next morning was very pleasant. We passed some very inquisitive cows, took pictures at Eagle Rock and talked a lot on our way into the Warner Springs Community Center. At the center we had breakfast, rummaged through the hiker boxes and I got a ride to Barrel Springs to retrieve my truck. We stopped by my favorite Oak Tree on the PCT and took some pictures. Later that evening we continued on and camped along Caliente Creek.
       The next morning I knew that it was time for me to move on and start hiking my happy pace. I told [SC] that I would be doing this, and she said that she figured so. I put in my head phones and began zoning out and crushed some miles. Before long I was coming over the high point and was shocked to see how much the area is beginning regrow after the last fire. I have always been concerned in that area, for it has been years since the fire and it just never seemed to regenerate. But it is finally starting to show promise.
   I saw lots of hikers along this stretch and eventually stopped at Mike Herrera's, where Kennedy Meadows Tom was holding down the fort. This was the first time in all the years that I took the time to actually walk to the home. In the past there was always a water cache at the road crossing, and no reason to go over to the water tanks or the house. Tom cooked some cheeseburgers, We exchanged some conversations and I made my way back out into the desert for some much needed miles.
   The temperature had warmed up, but it was short lived as the evening began to take fold. This stretch has always been among my favorites along Southern California. The Anza Desert is very much alive along the Tule Canyon Area. Upon reaching the Tule Tank, I showered and shaved under the water hose. I cleaned all my clothes as well as my socks and headed back out into the evening. The sun down was extraordinary.
   I walked into the night and had one of the best night hikes in a very long time. I ended up finding a secluded camp on a rock outcropping. The stars were remarkable and I laid awake for hours reminiscing of the many star lit nights I have had. Things were quite humbling and I eventually fell asleep to the sound of the distant coyotes and nearby owls.
Upon the first hint of light, I was quickly dressed and heading for the Paradise Cafe. I was not surprised to find the Anza Cache fully stocked, and nicely organized. But I was completely surprised to find Mary's Cache a 100 feet off the trail. This cache had picnic benches, a small library, coolers full of soda and fruit, a separate box with food and a couple of seperate regesters. One regester in particular was her attempt to politically gather everyones opinion of caches. This is a nice oasis for the weary traveler, but putting so much comfort along a trail, just continues to bite away at our wilderness experience. But I drank a soda and pushed on to Paradise Cafe without leaving any negative words in her register.       
I walked into Paradise Cafe in the late morning hours. I was greeted by several hikers, most getting ready to hitch around the fire closure and the others preparing to connect their footsteps from Mexico to Canada, by walking a shorter detour. I sat around there for a while and had a chicken salad. Super Classy showed up first from the people I saw from the previous day, and then one by one the others began to pour in. After a lengthy stay, I chugged down a chocolate shake, and headed back out into the afternoon sun.
Not long after I was back on trail, I began to run into more of the previous hikers that I had already met. One by one I continued to cross paths with hikers.
Back at Mary's cache, as the sun was going down, I began looking for a site to camp in, but the whole are looked like a toilet due to all the toilet paper lying around. I went ahead and pushed on to the famous rock cropping camp spots. Along the way, there was a tent set up in every wash and clearing. I was not surprised to find the rock cropping to be full of tents as well. I passed the Anza cache and found a spot up above off trail a bit.
It was another great sunset, as well as a very dark and star lit night. It was not long before I heard the voices of others, another reminder of how many people are hiking the PCT.
The next morning I was up before dawn and passed several tents on my way int Tule Canyon. I saw a coyote, and a large white owl. The morning was cool for the first 7 miles to the Tule Tank. I greeted several late sleepers and took a shower under the hose again. One of the girls there, who was dressed in filthy white and tan desert clothes could not believe I would get soaked under the hose when the air was still cool. But, I just looked at her and said that she would end up with rashes and chafing if she did not start cleaning herself. She thought I was crazy and I departed laughing.
After a pleasant but warm 10 mile climb up to Mikes house, I scooted into the shade for the most part of the rest of the day.I saw a couple repeat offenders, and my old business agent from my Union. He had retired and was now hiking the trail. He said he had been following my endeavors for years and was the biggest inspiration for his wife and he before their hike. His wife was now off trail, and he was living his dream alone. It was quite a humbling experience, and I hope to follow his progress.
I left into the dark and night hiked to the edge of Warner Valley, where I had signal and caught up with communicating with my friends and down loaded pictures onto FB. The next morning I was back at my truck by 7am, and back at home surfing by 11am. The PCT is still an amazing place but it is changing rapidly, and I am very grateful to have hiked it when I did. I have no desire in thru-hiking her for a few more years. It really makes me want to hike the CDT before it gets like this in the near future. So next year, I think that is what I will do.