Monday, May 17, 2010

Agua Dulce...Road Walks, Fire Reroutes, and Interesting things.

I'm sitting in a single wide trailer with wooden panelling listening to the 8-12 hikers behind me arrayed on futons and sofas waiting in line for a hot shower.  The conversation varies from introductions to where the sweet apple originated from in America.

My second night in Wrightwood I stayed with two trail angels, Ray and Susan.  They had two sons, one 2 the other nearing 8.  They had a teranchula(I know I'm spelling it wrong) sitting in a small cage on the kitchen counter and I noticed  this strange cherping noise.  It was feeding time and the crickets had just gone into the cage with  the spider.  After drinks and pizza with the other hikers I made my way back to the trail angel's place and slept on the loveseat in the living room.  I of course chose the sofa directly below the spider so I woke up every hour to check and make sure the spider was in the cage and the cage was still closed.  Way to sleep paranoid.
The morning I left Wrightwood I went to the most amazing bakery.  The owner found me googling at the sweets arrayed behind glass and began to discuss the options with me.  I decided on this 6 inch wide cinnimon roll complete with massive amounts of icing and peanut butter.  Absolutely the most amazing cinnimon roll I have ever had.  It was warm and gooey.  I packed out two giant honey buns for a late morning snack.  Slimjim got the pink sprinkled donuts that looked overly sugared and yummmy.
Leaving Wrightwood Slimjim and I headed toward the South Fork Campground and made it in a few hours.  As I was walking down the hill I spotted a man sitting in a lawn chair next to a giant pile of firewood.  I wish I could remember his name... He came over to talk and Slimjim and I found ourselves invited over for dinner.  Two hamburgers, chips, pinot gregio and two giant slices of watermelon later I was finally stuffed.  What nice people.  His daughter, Julian was absolutely adorable. (and I hate kids.) 
Slimjim and I encouraged the man who hosted dinner to join us on our hike or at least part of it.  He joined Slimjim for the first mile or so before turning around and heading back to join his family.  He invited us over for breakfast but we turned him down. We needed to put on the miles before the heat sunk in.  For me this morning was difficult because my mind kept reliving old memories.  By the time I climbed this giant hill into the Devil's Punchbowl my mindset was once again positive.  Devil's Punchbowl was beautiful and reminded me so much of Zion or Southern Utah.  Amazing.  The climb out of the punchbowl was strenuous and really took the energy out of me.  When I got to the top of the climb there were many picnic tables and the weekenders began to show up with giant coolers.  Normally I would think, hmmm how can I get lunch from them but the groups coming in were filled with snotty kids, girls looking forward to getting a tan on the walk and having cellphone service from beginning to end of the 7 mile hike in.  Slimjim and I continued our fire re-route walk... on roads.  We spruced up the day by rolling large tires down the road's hills...moving traffic cones into the middle of  the road, and taking an hour long break in a shack only big enough for the bench within it.  It was a great break because there wasn't any shade for miles around.  I checked the outside temperature and it was over 90 degrees.  The rest of the road walk for the day was long and exhausting, but as we rounded a curve we saw the golden arches of McDonalds calling... we rerouted our reroute plan. We went to Burger King, then McDonalds, and then a local crazy store called Charlie Brown.  We ate at each place but Charlie Browns was by far the most interesting...The store looked exactly like the box of animal crackers complete with animal figurines along the exterior of the building.  We stayed in that small city of Little Rock for close to three hours while we waited for the heat to leave the air.  Around 8 Slimjim and I picked up another hiker, Duff.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned her before...she attempted to thru-hike the PCT last year but was unable to due to some blister issues.  This year she is trying again and started in Big Bear City.  I've hiked on and off with her.  She hasn't gotten her trail legs yet so I tend to out walk her quickly in the morning but she catches up during my 3 hour siesta lunches. So anyways... we night hiked along the roads to avoid the misreable heat.  She was done around 10:30 so Slimjim and I stopped as well.  We found a place to camp under some giant power lines... we camped in the middle of the road thinking no one would be driving up there.  Well... we were wrong.  Talk about creepy and sketchy.  Around 1:30 this car pulls up the dirt road... I shine my head lamp all over the place to get there attention.  This was made possible because we had all been both to lazy and to tired to set up our tents in the dark.  The car goes down the road 20 yds then abruptly turned around and headed back... As the car passed me the driver rolled the window down, stuck his hand out waved and said..."My Bad."  Okay... I'm thinking, that went as well as something like that could have gone.  Around 2:30 a second car comes in,.... I flash my headlamp everywhere, Duff must have been close to being run over... but the car goes down 20yds and stops.  They decide to chill there for 45 minutes.  It didn't sound like english and there were lots of slamming of doors and bottles being broken.  It was nerve racking and very frustrating.  By 3:15 they leave.  What a night.
The next morning Duff informs me a snake slept near her.  .... Hm I think well, what kind of snake?  I wonder over and it's a western diamond back about 1.5 feet long.  Just chilling.  She's totally not into the little rattles on the tail and proceeds to continue packing less than 2 feet away.  All I can think of is wow. I mean, I told her it's poisonous... what else can I do?  I tell Slimjim, he goes over to check it out... hey hey, he practically stands on it and doesn't even realize it until she points it out.  Hm.  I mean... it's a snake... why isn't she being more cognazent of it's location?

I pack up snack of some poptarts and leave ready for the next new adventure I'll have to stumble upon and wonder about the sanity of other hikers.

Slimjim and I took a giant break under a bridge along the road walk. It was the only place to get water for 28 miles of the reroute.  We hung out until 2:30 then began to walk.  Two trail angels stopped us, Law and Order, and told us about changing our reroute to go through Action and straight to the KOA campground which was our final destination.  The change reduced the road walking by 8-10 miles.  We took it.  As we were walking, and nearing the "less than 5 miles left" another Trail Angel stopped us, Thomas.  He offered to take us to the Saufleys and drive us back in the morning.  We took it.  Last night I had a real shower complete with razor for my legs.  I haven't felt this clean or primped in over a month. My hair is down and big.  It's getting too long.  Slimjim and I slack packed the 12 miles of trail that weaved through the Vasquez Rocks.  It was an absolutely mystical experience.  It was like walking through a cloud and seeing a misty desert I never knew existed. 

The hike is going well and I am glad to have left the last of the big road walks. I love the hiking life but I've begun to start thinking about the real world of work/school.  It's roughly 100 miles from Tehachapi Pass and will soon have to make a decision about attempting the snowy sierras or leapfroging up to Ashland or Seattle... and hiking the WA and OR states.  I think I would enjoy doing Oregon and Washington after the desert more than I would in the Sierras.  It would also be safer. 

I hope everyone is doing well and taking care.  My mum should be putting pictures up soon. If you have any questions or are curious about anything comment!


  1. ES Some of the smaller sw rattlesnakes have more potent poison than the larger western diammondback. It might be a little different as well. I feel the deja vu with talking about snakes seeking something warm if you don't have a tent... Meaning sleeping in a tent is good thing. When I was younger, there were contests to bust beer bottles on road signs, but that time is gone, do you think. It is a lot of fun to bust beer bottle late at night after a six pack. I can also remember driving on dirt road, to see how far you could drive before find a paved road. Our best effort was 20 miles in the middle of the night and that is more fun when you're with buddies and you are on your third six pack. Not like those dirt road are going to see the man with flashing light very much. Be careful, drinking, fun, and dirt roads are not unusual.

  2. I knew your time would come and it predictions were correct.

    I was hoping for a better name..but Slim Jim will do. Best Wishes...MJ

  3. Emily I am so proud of you and what you are doing. I can totally underestand your Mum going crazy when you did not check in at the scheduled time. Be safe, have fun, enjoy, take lots of pictures, and do not shave your head. Frances Vardy

  4. I try to keep up with your posts every few days...sounds like you are having the time of your life! Your updates serve as great reading material when I am eating lunch at my computer. Looking forward to seeing pictures upon your return, or sooner if some get posted online. Even though Fran disagrees, I am not opposed to the shaving of heads (think of Natalie Portman rather than Sinéad O'Connor). Take care of yourself (not to imply that you aren't doing that already) and enjoy. Peter.

  5. Emily,this is great reading! I think you should consider writing a book upon your return. :) Keep at it...don't give up! Just keep thinking about the END of this AMAZING Journey and you will pull thru! Don't forget to read the quotes from Tommy! Inspiration is always helpful.

    Good Luck and Take Care!!