PCT Day 48 – LA Aqueduct

PCT Day 48 – LA Aqueduct

22.3 miles, near 526.9

• Our water source this morning was a cistern, which collects rainwater from a slanted metal roof and channels it into a shaded concrete structure. Difficult to scoop the water, but a crucial source in the desert.

• Heard another swarm of bees riding the breeze. Such a weird phenomenon.

• We hiked down and out of the mountains most of the day, arriving to the Mojave desert floor. Once we got to the road, we encountered “Hikertown”, a little makeshift town with a Wild West theme. Each building was a room to sleep, but named like “Bank” or “Sheriff” or “Saloon”. The vibe there was kinda creepy, but probably harmless. There’s a weird feud between this place and their cafe vs the gas station and cafe down the road named Wee Vill.

• We ended up calling Wee Vill and they came and picked us up in a minivan to shuttle us to their place 7 miles to the east. Matteo was very excited by the minivan AC.

• There’s a little back yard oasis for hikers to camp and shower at Wee Vill. We dropped our stuff and ordered double cheeseburgers, it was delicious. Matteo was very excited for the burger, “Best burger of my life for sure” and “Wow this is an experience. I love my life.”

• We got a ride back to the trail head and started night hiking the LA aqueduct, a very iconic stretch to PCT hikers. It’s a 20 mile waterless stretch on flat pavement in the Mojave, so a popular strategy is to night hike it.

• Claira blasted top 40 stuff and we all sang along until 2am when we couldn’t take it anymore and had to crash. Bradley Claira and Carie all drank Red Bull energy drinks at 8pm, I managed to do without but was on the verge of hallucination.

• Fun fact, Claira knew all the lyrics to all the songs we played to keep us awake.

PCT Day 47 – Liebre Mountain

PCT Day 47 – Liebre Mountain

18.8 miles, near 504.6

• We woke up and started climbing towards to a water spring, already pretty hot.

• Around lunch time, we stumbled on a gravel parking lot with some trail magic! A guy named Todd setup some shade and was grilling dogs, handing out beers, the works. It was his first time hosting trail magic and really nailed it. He works with the LA fire department and had a bunch of time off to do cool stuff like this.

• After plenty of rest and a full belly, we continued on. The afternoon was in the forest and offered plenty of shade.

• We saw another rattlesnake. It was on the trail and spooked the ladies. It slithered off trail, but Bradley hung back to make sure I saw it.

• We’ve been seeing a lot of Miners Lettuce, a type of edible plant like spinach. When I tried it, it reminded me of kale and our little garden in Denver. Funny how things like that spark thoughts of home and the life we used to live, makes me a little nostalgic.

• Actually, I think of home often and of what we’re going to do next. This is the perfect example of the perspective you gain out here and how it helps you appreciate the modern amenities and life style we all take for granted. Most days are difficult and the “type 2 fun” is only recognized the next day upon reflection.

• We were excited to reach the 500 mile mark, but it happened to be at the top of a long uphill, so it was one of those “are we there yet?!” moments. And because of minor changes to the trail over time, the physical marker was actually at 501.8, and because it’s a small post that can be picked and moved, it was actually at 501.9 for some reason. Nevertheless, we made it 500 miles, took a goofy photo, and sang that annoying “I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more” or whatever.

• We arrived at a good water and camping spot and made some food before walking down the hill and setting up our tent. It was really windy and we were pretty exhausted on top of not much sleep from last night. Carie packed out one of those single serve wine bottles from Ventura and chugged it in the tent. About 2 minutes later she was out and immediately snoring.

PCT Day 46 – Lake Hughes

PCT Day 46 – Lake Hughes

7.6 miles, near 485.8

• This morning was totally different than yesterday. There was basically nobody around to eat breakfast, probably less people at the house in general and a lot of bros sleeping off their wizard staff hangover. Joe and Terri were jabbing at each other and it was hilarious.

• Him: “Terri was so much better than my first wife, I can’t hardly wait for my third”.

• Her: “Sorry, you can’t get rid of me that easily”. Him: “Yeah right, just keep smoking those cigarettes, honey. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you around in a real nice urn”.

• Terri drove us down to Santa Clarita after breakfast. There was a little confusion at walgreens, but Carie ended up getting the prescription she needed. We got chipotle, ran a few errands, then went back to the house.

• We didn’t stick around for dinner, otherwise it would have gotten too late and we’d probably stay another night. We walked to the road and Carie secured us another hitch back to the trail.

• We hiked a few miles as the sun got lower. We stopped at the top of a ridge and waited for Bradley and Claira. Two guys named Ruben and Matteo caught up as well and we started talking. By now the sun was set and we got our headlamps out.

• We hiked another few miles in the dark, our first time trying night hiking. We thought about going pretty far and taking advantage of the cool night air, but stopped and slept in a washed out riverbed with some other hikers.

• On our way down the valley in the dark, we spotted a kangaroo rat hopping across the trail with its puffy tail. Fortunately no other animal sightings.

PCT Day 45 – Casa Zero

PCT Day 45 – Casa Zero

• Terri and Joe make pancakes for breakfast every day. It seemed like a lot of people were up and ready to hike out early, so I was one of the last to eat by the time I rolled in at 7.

• We didn’t have any hard plans, so we took the day in stride, thought about hiking out late afternoon, but decided to stay another night. Carie was fighting another feminine infection, so we need to pickup some meds in Santa Clarita tomorrow. Terri let us sleep in the guest room while she recuperates.

• A bunch of bros went to the store and bought lots of beer to play “wizard staff”, which is just taping cans together and seeing who is the grand wizard with the biggest staff at the end of the night. Later on they needed to stand on a chair in order to drink from the top of the staff.

• There was a “guest WiFi” to connect to that basically worked for Facebook and Instagram, no email or google searches or apps. We happened to get on the normal WiFi when we were coordinating medication stuff, so I had the fast stuff and didn’t tell anyone 😈

• The phrase “type 2 fun” keeps coming up, which is the type of fun you enjoy after the fact, like looking back fondly at the experience, because backpacking can be pretty brutal in the moment, but we appreciate the hard work and benefits later. I had never heard of this phrase before, but it’s super appropriate for this trail.

• Every day Terri gets all the new hikers together for a group picture, and moons the crowd on 3,2,1. We were trying to figure out why this place is called Casa de Luna and felt brilliant thinking it was because she moons everyone… like House of the Moon. She said it’s Casa de Luna originally because it normally takes 1 full cycle of the moon for hikers to get from Mexico to her house.

PCT Day 44 – Casa de Luna

PCT Day 44 – Casa de Luna

14.2 miles, near 478.2

• Carie was very hyper this morning, even without tea. And then she expected me to make her tea, but I didn’t, so she was upset.

• We broke a tent clip on day 8 and asked zpacks to send a replacement. They sent the replacement to Agua Dulce and we finally fixed the vestibule today.

• We didn’t sleep in, but it warmed up very quickly as soon as the sun rays hit the tent.

• Carie bought cereal and dried fruit and powdered milk for breakfast, just add water. She’s a little bit lactose intolerant, so all that milk didn’t sit well for very long.

• All of the plants on the side of the trail look shiny, so I assume they are all poisonous. I know this isn’t true, but better safe than sorry, so I basically don’t touch anything ever.

• It’s breezy today, but it’s a very hot wind, so it’s only half nice and helpful.

• The afternoon was a long winding downhill through the canyons with no shade. I started fantasizing about jumping in a lake.

• We finally made it to the road to hitch into Green Valley and make our way to Casa de Luna, a trail angels house. Green Valley has 2 gas stations and 1 out of business restaurant. We walked only a little ways before Carie secured our hitch. Our guy didn’t know where Casa was, so he drove us to one of the gas stations. He bought a 6 pack and hit on the clerk before leaving. I got a slushee and some snacks and then we found Casa.

• Terri and Joe at Casa de Luna have been welcoming hikers to their home for 10+ years, hosting hikers in their back yard manzanita tree forest. Hikers can paint rocks and leave them in the forest, and hang out in the shade on ragged couches in the front yard. They heat up beans and nacho cheese and serve a taco salad dinner every night. This is truly a difficult vortex to escape.