436.08 (North Fork Ranger Station) – 454.5 (Agua Dulce)

18.42 miles

I have been on trail one month today! So have Lisa, Rusty, GB and Heartbreaker. Happy trail-iversary to us!

Today was a special day. Today is the day we made it to Hiker Heaven. 

I woke up early. Actually, I woke up several times in the night- at 12:30, 2:30, 3:30. Around 4:30 I started to dress and pack. This whole thing is so much easier when I cowboy camp. I think it has to do with the fact that I’m already outside. I can’t loll around in my tent postponing the inevitable. The inevitable has already happened. 

I started walking around 5:30 and it was hot immediately. I wanted to do 10 miles by 10:00, not only because it was hot as hell, but because I wanted to make it the 18.5 miles into town as quickly as possible. 

Despite the heat, it was a beautiful morning. The trail cruised along, clear and open. Downhills have been killing my right leg, but I just pushed the pain to the back of my mind today. What was I going to do about it anyway?

The guys, Heartbreaker and Blazer, caught up with me at the rest area in Acton, CA about 8-ish miles into out day. It was 9:00. I was slowing down already. They went ahead and I took it slow and steady, popping my umbrella as we climbed back up an exposed ledge on our way to the tunnel that runs under Highway 14.
After the cool relief of the tunnel under the highway, came Vasquez Rocks. What?!? These otherworldly rock formations created by the San Andreas Fault have been the backdrop for so many movies and television shows you’ve seen- The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, McGyver, Star Trek, Blazing Saddles. I think my mouth was hanging wide open the whole time I was winding my way through the park. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures! But go Google it and see what I’m talking about. 

As I passed some picnic tables, I heard my name and looked over to find the guys waiting for me. We jovially walked the last mile into town, talking the whole way about what we would eat when we got there. All of a sudden I was starving! Sadly, we skipped the Vasquez Rocks visitor center in our haste. 

We all love hiking. We’re really not out here just trying to make it from town to town. We’re enjoying the hiking, the being out in the wilderness, the views, the experience. Truly. But rolling into a new town is exciting! Food! Shower! Laundry! Food! It’s hard (food) to explain (food). 

We sat our sweaty selves down on the patio of the Sweetwater Cafe and ate, excitedly speculating about this place where we were heading. The guys had burgers and fries. I had a salad and fries. Jake showed up. Then we went across the street and got ice cream to eat while we waited for the magical shuttle to take us to Hiker Heaven. 

Heaven! Indeed! 

Ron, a volunteer, arrived in the pickup truck shuttle, seven of us squeezed in with him and he drove us the mile down the road to Hiker Heaven, the home of Donna and Jeff Saufley. 

I had planned to hike in today and leave tomorrow afternoon, but I knew as soon as I arrived, that would never work. Hiker Heaven really needs a post all its own, so tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it. 

Now, excuse me while I go drink a beer and wait for my shower turn. 

Today I met Ron, a volunteer at Hiker Heaven, trail name Tripod, who has hiked the PCT three times and has lots of opinions!

Today I learned, if you have an inkling that I might want to stop somewhere and see something, I should do it! When will I be here again?!

Today’s hike was powered by wonder on the road to Heaven.