Hiker heaven – abandoned road
16.8 miles. 4155ft up. 2920ft down.
So 28 miles of the trail south of Agua Dulce is closed because of the Sand Fire which happened earlier this year. I believe it affected quite a few of the northbounders too. You can walk 7 miles south of Agua Dulce but there is no road access in that section so you would have to backtrack those 7 miles to get off the trail. The PCTA didn’t establish an alternate route and the people who tried to walk the road recommended not to. So with our options limited we skipped those 35 miles and got a ride around the closure.
I can’t remember who I heard this from but they said the trail changes every year and you can only hike what is open to you at the time. Which is very true. There are closures every year and some closures have been in effect for several years now.
Anyway, so Witch and I were sleeping in the living area and Doug sets the coffee pot going at about 5am, which seemed a little unnecessary, so we didn’t get a lot of sleep after that. Trail angel Mary was coming to pick us up between 9 and 9:30am so we had a fairly leisurely morning. Nosy snuck in and pimped herself out for belly rubs. She couldn’t get enough of the belly rubs.
We said our goodbyes and thank yous to Doug and we got to briefly chat to Donna and Jeff Saufley, then we sat outside and waited for Mary. We saw lots of people on horses, horses and dogs seem to outnumber the people in this town. 9:30 came and we hadn’t seen Mary yet, but she was stuck behind…horses and dogs. We all piled ourselves and our packs into her car and set off.
Crusher and Witch had never seen Vasquez rocks before, and they are probably the most interesting thing about the section we have to skip, so we pulled in to the parking area and had a quick look. Then we drove the windy mountain road up to where the trail crosses the Angeles Forest Highway and up to the Mill Creek Fire Station of Broken Dreams (you’ll have to read the northbound story to get this reference!).
It was cold and windy. We saw a hunter who said he had given up because he couldn’t keep his scope straight because of the wind. We set off merrily down a dirt road before realising that wasn’t the trail so we had to backtrack, I blame Crusher! And then we were off for real. It was a fairly late start at nearly 11am so we weren’t sure how far we were going to make it.
The trail was nice and a big washed out section that I remembered from last year has been repaired, which is good. I came across two more hunters who asked me where the trail went, I told them Mexico and they didn’t believe me. They thought I was joking, and when I told them it started in Canada they though I had lost my mind. I convinced them I was telling the truth and they were amazed. They were stood right on the PCT and they had no idea. I told them to ask the girls behind me for confirmation (which they did!). They were hunting deer but one of the guys said he saw one deer earlier this morning but he fired 10 rounds and still missed it.
The trail is fairly unremarkable in this section, it looks much the same for most of the way but there is a lot of poodle dog bush (although it seemed less than last year). A lot of it looked completely dead but the stuff that was around was easy to avoid and there wasn’t too much of it right next to the trail. Of course it still smelt gross and it turned my stomach a little. Not enough to stop me enjoying my British chocolates though!
The trail wiggles gently up and down and around and I’m feeling really strong and confident in myself today so I hike fast and I enjoy striding out ahead of everyone. Stretching my legs. I finally start to feel like I’m alright at this and I’ve stopped comparing myself to other people. I’m only a couple of hundred miles away from having hiked 5,000 miles. Five thousand miles!
I come to a trail head where there is a trash can and a pit toilet. My favourite. So I get rid of my trash and visit the pit toilet and layer up because it’s starting to get pretty chilly. There is a lack of camp spots in this area so we aim for an abandoned dirt road and find a flat place to camp. The trail follows and crosses highway 2 several times. We are really close but quite high above the road. Hopefully it won’t be too noisy in the night. Crusher carries on a couple of miles so she will be hiking in the dark and we haven’t seen Witch all day so maybe she’ll pass us in the dark.
Now we are cold and even though it’s only 6pm we are rapidly losing light. I’ve gotten really cold by the time I get in my tent and it’s a struggle to get warm. I have one of Catwaters fancy Pack It Gourmet meals tonight as she had too many. The name tickles me ‘shepherd’s cottage pie’. There is no such thing. A shepherds pie is made with lamb and a cottage pie is made with beef. That’s the difference. So this was a cottage pie.
It was a little bit complicated to make. Mix this with this and that with that and add a little bit of water here and a bit there, bit once I figured it out I left it to ‘cook’ and set up my little home. The meal was actually very nice. It’s the closest thing to real food I have tasted in a freeze dried meal. They are far superior to mountain house and backpackers pantry but of course they probably come at a superior price too. But even the mash potato tasted like real mash potato. I was quite impressed.
I washed it down with some Cheetos and chips ahoy and snuggled down in my sleeping bag to try and keep warm.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.