Day 29: mile 444.3 – mile 465.6
Elevation gain: 4,419 ft
Elevation loss: 3,308 ft
Don’t you just love it when something spontaneous and unplanned works out to be the best thing ever!? Having the big day of super hot miles was so worth it in order to be able to have an entire zero day for Link’s birthday! Two great nights of sleep, 2 showers, 3 Doordash meals delivered to the hotel room, a trip to this amazing Walmart (just 3/4 mile away) where we were able to get a new Sawyer water filter (our old one had been on the fritz), bandaids, some extra food for the trail plus snacks for the room. We also unpacked the 2 resupply boxes and organized all that, did laundry, face timed family, and watched some mindless TV. Just the way a day off should be! I had carried some notes from the kids as well as “happy birthday” signs for Link’s pack and the tent so thought about using them today (the day after) but with as few people as we have seen on the trail, we thought the extra weight wasn’t worth it. But the hotel room looked festive at least!
I have to say, the day seemed SUPER long when we didn’t have much to do…what a treat! We took an Uber back to the trail and were walking by 7:00-ish. The temps didn’t seem too bad because there was a nice breeze…I even had goose bumps when we started walking, but figured that wouldn’t last long! Today’s terrain, views, wildflowers, and super cool sights were exactly what Link and I needed. Everything had started to look the same lately…Link and I have discussed how we were feeling a little “over the desert” before we took our zero. This was not a good feeling since we have only done 450 of 700 miles of the desert…we wanted to be inspired and awed by the desert again, and today we were!
The pokey, overgrown scrub brush was gone…replaced with flowing green grasses, vibrant colored wildflowers and super cool rock formations.
We had hiked 6 miles when we went underneath the 14 fwy. There usually isn’t water flowing through there, I guess, but there is right now! So it was a lovely spot to sit, with a back rest, on cool cement in the shade and had a snack while listening to the trickle of the stream. You can see my lunch sack of goodies in this picture and I have to say this is my favorite combo yet! Always jerky, nuts and dried fruit but this is the first time for dried apricots (yum) and salted peanuts (even yummier!). I was really loving this today and I get to snack/lunch on that for the next 7 days!
There were a TON of tad poles in that stream and I would’ve stayed there all day trying to save the ones who had gotten stuck in shallow water, but it was time to move on. Growing up I kissed every frog I could catch, which absolutely worked, because I found my Prince Charming in Link for sure! So I always have a soft spot for frogs and tad poles 😁
Right after hwy 14, we started walking in Vasquez Rocks Nat’l Park where the rock formations are so amazingly cool and futuristic looking that many shows/movies have been filmed there. Like Star Trek, Austin Powers, Blazing Saddles, etc…
Ten miles into the day we arrived in the town of Agua Dulce which was exciting because it’s one of the few towns that the PCT actually walks right through! So we stopped by a place to order sandwiches, fries and milk shakes to go…super tasty! But my eyes are always bigger than my stomach right now and I could only eat 1/2 of my Monte Cristo sandwich. Of course, now, I’m regretting that decision. I could polish that 2nd half off in no time! The restaurant even let us sit on the side of the place in chairs in the shade, plus gave us a couple pitchers of water to fill our bottles. So funny…the first pitcher had an ant in it. If we had been at home we would’ve promptly dumped that out and asked for a fresh fill, but water feels so precious out here that we just poured it anyway.
We had already walked 1.5 miles through town and now had another 1.8 of road walking in the blazing sun before we got on an actual trail again. So Link and I put our umbrellas up to try and stay as cool as possible. I think it actually worked pretty well! This was the first time using the umbrellas for sun protection and I would definitely do it again. The only problem is that if there is a gust of wind, it’s no longer helpful because it’s attached to my shoulder strap and wants to pull off or turn inside out. But even having it for about 5 miles was great!
We had heard this climb out of Agua Dulce was brutal, but because of the beautiful views and nice breeze, Link and I both thought many of the previous climbs were much worse. So that was refreshing! We got to sign a trail register, and then were at the next water source 19 miles into the day. The app had said this spring was a trickle, but that was a couple days ago and things change so quickly. It was barely even visible…definitely no Little Jimmy spring, that’s for sure! Not sure if we could’ve even scooped 1L out of there, let alone the 5L we needed. So we decided to walk another 2.8 miles to a small stream which also had flat tent spots…not having to carry all that water is definitely a luxury!
We had been seeing a hiker ahead of us multiple times throughout the day, but hadn’t caught him until the stream where he decided to stay as well. He hadn’t gotten a trail name yet and so we suggested the name Rabbit, which he seems to like. For 2 reasons…he’s quick and fast hiking, but also because he has a video of a rattle snake he found along the trail who was eating a rabbit. The rabbit was WAY too big for the snake but he was still trying to shove the head down his throat while rattling at the same time. It is a gnarly video! We will see if his name sticks…
It’s super handy to be camped near the stream, and there’s even a trash can nearby which is also a huge luxury, but our trade off is that we are super close to a road. You can’t see it, but it’s prob only 50 ft away so instead of wildlife sounds tonight, all we hear are cars…one trade off for another! Thanks for following! Double Down