April 21, 2015
Miles to Date: 151.9
Not bad so far. Getting used to dry camping and calculating how many liters of water I need to carry between water sources. It’s hot and dry and the country out of Julian, MP 77.1, has been kind of unvarying: brush, manzanita, cactus, dirt, enlivened by an occasional drop down into a dessicated stream bed with poison oak and ticks.
I hike for hours on my own, and then spend hours leap frogging with other hikers. We tend to gather at water sources like wildebeests and lions on the savannah. We talk story. The community of hikers is like the snowboard community in a lot of ways. The names are just weirder: Blisters, Butt Newt, Daytripper, Occupy, Costco, 30-30, The Predator, Squachy, Poppy, Jihad, Stinger, Geisha.
A few days ago I decided I had to have a shower at the Warner Springs Resource Center, which is run by volunteer seniors, and closes at 4. I made the 16 miles in good time but they’d “turned off the water” to the outdoor showers and closed the little store I needed to buy food from. So I camped on the grass by the parking lot with a bunch of other hikers, some I knew, some new to me. At MP 109.5, this odd place across from the fire station, (“Hey, shit bird new guy, wash the truck!” over the fire yard PA as you walk by with your hiking sticks.) was gathering hikers with issues, some staying for days in the parking lot, like winged ducks rafting up in the Minto Flats during hunting season. A guy with blisters so bad he hobbles in hiker-box flip flops almost the right size, a guy who walked too many 20-milers and got an Achilles strain, and people waiting till Monday when the post office opens and they can pick up their resupply boxes. However, most of us get up the next day, buy a great $6 breakfast cooked by the volunteers, and get back on the trail.
I’ve had sweet little campsites the last 2 nights, tucked out of the wind and out of sight. Today, a first, cool and a mist with the wind, it felt like the Scottish Highlands, I expected Braveheart to come bellowing down the trail at any minute. No cell connection so no weather report for 2 days. I saw no one the 3 hours it took me to get to Paradise Valley Cafe where I joined a bunch of hiker trash at a table and ate a bacon burger. More trickled in as we ate while others hitched into Idyllwild in 2’s and 3’s. Found out there’s a chance of snow on the trail ahead tomorrow. I love snow, I’m prepared, but it doesn’t hurt my feelings that I already booked a zero in Idyllwild.