May 13, 2017
Acton KOA – Hiker Heaven (444.3-454.5)
We had a very leisurely start to the day this morning. I slept til 6:30 and then laid in my quilt for another hour on my phone. When I finally got out of my tent, I made actual hot coffee with my stove. A real luxury. Waking up and not packing up to leave immediately felt super weird. The campground was holding a mother’s day for brunch, where you could pay 4 dollars and gain access to what seemed to be a limitless number of pancakes. I downed 6 in a frighteningly short amount of time, along with orange juice and more coffee, and we headed out.
Gummies, Cougar, Dr. McDirty, and I were back on trail at 10am, a late start. It was already hot, and we were really down in the desert now. The scenery was beautiful, the desert hills looking like something out of a painting rather than real life.
This morning, I got a craving for something I didn’t think it was possible to crave: yucca flowers. Way back at Third Gate Cache, when I first met Soren, he showed me that the yucca flowers were edible. They didn’t seem too exciting then. They didn’t taste bad, they just kind of tasted like flowers, with a bit of a nutty aftertaste. Now, my salivary glands kick into gear at the thought of them. The craving is definitely just for fresh plant matter. I would much rather have a mango, or some watermelon, or even an apple or orange, but the yucca flowers are right there. I can see a bunch of plants heavy with flowers, but they’re all a ways off trail on steep ridge sides. All of the ones near the trail are shrivelled and dead. Finally, I round a corner and see one just off trail. I pick my snack, and then as I’m turning to get back on the trail, I stumble, and my desire for fresh produce betrays me. Yucca plants are sharp. The pointy leaves jab into the fleshy part of my ankle, and it freaking hurts. I walk a bit, then sit down and pull off my shoe to find it soaked with blood. I’m scared to look at what’s underneath, but when I peel off my sock there’s just a tiny red dot. It still hurts though, and it’s a bit swollen. I hope a couple of short days will help it heal up.
We continue on, and cross through a tunnel under the highway before sitting down for a quick lunch break. After lunch, we walk through the Vasquez Rocks, which was amazing. We wandered through the otherworldly rock formations, until we started seeing signs of civilization. Agua Dulce! The trail goes right through the middle of town, and almost as soon as we got on the road, a man in a truck pulled over and gave us waters and a Powerade. We turned off the trail to walk a mile down the road to Hiker Heaven, and almost immediately caught a ride from a couple in some kind of giant ATV. It was awesome.
Hiker Heaven is also awesome. It’s run by the Saufley’s, trail angels who have been opening their home to hikers for many years. We walked through the gate and found a paradise filled with dogs, hikers, and tents. They have showers, laundry, loaner clothes, wifi, charging stations, and basically anything else a hiker could want. We got a quick orientation, found a spot to squeeze in our tents, and put our names on the shower list. Cougar and I soaked our feet in epsom salts and warm water, and then we all sprawled on the couch in the mobile home (“Hiker Central”), and put on NETFLIX! This really is heaven. We even ordered pizza from the local place and had it delivered. Life is great. The only problem is it’s now past 9pm and I’m still waiting on my shower. I think I’m next in line though. While we were waiting, a ton of hikers piled onto the couches to watch The Princess Bride on Netflix.
Tomorrow we’ll resupply and then probably walk about halfway to the next trail angel house, Casa de Luna. We’re definitely getting spoiled on this stretch.
Update: finally got my shower, and it was glorious. There were several different types of shampoo and conditioner to choose from, in actual separate bottles. There was a FACE SCRUB. I got to moisturize after!!! I feel like a new person. Putting on a clean cotton tshirt afterwards was a totally bizarre, but amazing feeling. There was a scale in the bathroom too, and I’m not sure I trust its accuracy, but it claims I have lost another 6 pounds since Big Bear, for a grand total of 10 pounds lost so far on the trip. For someone who ate a chocolate bar and 6 pancakes for breakfast this morning, I’d say that’s pretty impressive.