We’ve made it to Hiker Heaven! We’re at the home of the Saufley’s, in Agua Dulce, CA, a small town through which the trail walks. The Saufley’s is more of an institution than just one Trail Angel- it’s many people volunteering however they can to create a space for hikers to clean off, rest, and eat. We’re loving it here. That said: its been tough getting here.
The last 50 or so miles of trail have given us a little insight to an important part of the desert- fires. We walked through the “Station 9” fire, which happened during Fall 2009, burning thousands of acres; and roughly 40 contiguous miles of the PCT. Two firefighters passed in the event. It was totally an education in the fragility of the land we are walking through, and gave me an appreciation for the forests and un-burned landscapes we do get to see. After a burn, it takes many years to recover to an ecosystem’s previous health, if it ever does. In fact, in the areas we walked through, it doesn’t look like its recovering at all. Much of it was overgrown with “Poodle Dog Bush,” an invasive plants species that takes over after fires. The last 40-50 miles have been littered with this stuff- oh, and despite the silly name, it causes a rash 10 times worse than Poison Oak, often putting folks in the hospital. The stench is strong enough that it burns your lung as you pass by. During the whole time we walked through the Poodle Dog Bush, I couldn’t help but imagine what the pre- burn forest looked like. It was hotter because there was no shade, Poodle Dog Bush was all around, and often we found ourselves on detours on the road, because the trail was too hazardous to pass. All in all a tough section.
There aren’t too many show stopping stories from this last section. That said, its been good to see a few folks around on the trail. Mud & Dingo showed up out of Wrightwood, and they keep a day- to- day blog which you can find here: http://wearehikingthepct.blogspot.ca/?m=1 Its also been great to hike around Agro, Uncle Famous, Ian’t, Chad, Frostie, Walkie Talkie, and many others who are keeping about the same pace as us. At times, the PCT feels like the AT in how social the trail is; we can go days where we see 20-30 other hikers and then other days where we don’t see anyone. The Saufley’s is full tonight with over 50 hikers, but its been great to meet so many people in this first section.
Moving on from here we really enter the desert. Agua Dulce, which is almost close enough to be a suburb of LA (30 min drive) borders the Mojave desert, and we’ll be hiking through some of the hottest and driest sections we have encountered so far. Lotus (Becky) and I have been both dreading and looking forward to it. We’ll be doing a significant amount of night hiking, and regularly be carrying 8- 12 pounds of water (ugh). Anyways, its sure to be an adventure, and we have the High Sierra to look forward to- we are anticipating entering early in the first week of June (so Soon!) More To Come!
Another quick note and thank you for some amazing trail magic- Brett in Wrightwood found us outside the hardware store and gave us a ride, took us to his house where Lotus and I did yoga, cooked dinner for us and three other hikers, let us hang out and watch movies and then took us back out to the trail. Thank you Brett!!! Also- Jeff who picked us up in downtown Wrightwood and hosted us and about 7 other hikers at his house. He gave us showers, let us do laundry and he and his son and daughter were incredibly welcoming. Thank you Jeff!! Keen sent us new socks and a care package full of tasty bars. Lotus’ mom also sent us an amazing care package with tons of vegan cookies, dried fruit, a giant size nutella, almonds and some soap (THANK YOU!). And my parents sent bars, fancy chocolate and some candy- THANK YOU!