Mile 436 to 454 (Hiker Heaven)

At Bedazzled’s suggestion, we started hiking even earlier today waking up at 4:30 and hitting the trail by 5:00. As we have dropped in elevation over the past few days, the temperature has risen, and we are already hitting the high 80s. This is more like the desert we have been expecting, but that certainly doesn’t mean we are happy campers. The heat was a shock from the cooler temperatures up in the mountains.

The trail from the North Fork Ranger Station was was beautiful as we set off in the predawn light. Burnout led the way with his headlamp and we made quick time as we headed downhill. I had my camera at the ready as I waited for the sun to rise and illuminate the folded hills laid out before us.

The steady drop in elevation meant I could capture vast landscapes, and I lagged behind as I waited for my hiking buddies to enter my compositions. After a mediocre last couple of days photographically, I was happy to get some decent shots today.

We made good time to the KOA in Acton, which was 8 miles from our campsite, but we had our sights set on Agua Dulce 10 miles further down trail.  At 9 miles in, we passed our last water for the day and I packed out 3 liters.

Soon we were walking through sun dried grass on sun baked hills. The temperature continued to rise along with our level of misery. We stopped briefly and Valdy remarked that she was no longer sweaty, but just plain wet. I had sweat through my shirt and every part of me was covered in sweat.  Burnout and I opened our flies to increase air flow to our crotches. Taking every precaution to stave off the dreaded groin chafe.

Bedazzled was having a tough go of it, and I could hear her labored breathing as we climbed up hill. The only saving grace for this section of trail was Vasquez Rocks, which was made famous when it was used as a location for Star Trek. I’m not sure, but I think the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise fought the Lizard People out here.

The rocks were pretty cool, but we were really too hot to care and made our way through them as fast as possible.

At last, we reached Agua Dulce, a small town with a few restaurants, grocery, and most importantly Hiker Heaven, which is an old ranch house that has been converted into a hiker sanctuary. They do laundry, receive and mail packages, have showers, porta-potties, charging stations, and more. There are even horses, 7 dogs, and chickens, not to mention 50+ hikers staying here a night. The place is so well run that the services they provide are better than many businesses that attempt to accomplish the same thing.

We did laundry, showered, and headed into town thanks to one of the volunteer drives to do our resupply. We are planning to take 5 days to cover 116 miles into Tehachapi. After eating two large pizzas, we headed back to Hiker Heaven and ran into the sisters. It was nice to see some familiar faces as almost everyone here is a stranger.

The weirdest thing I have seen yet is a hippie chick here who is apparently hiking the trail with a 6 week old kitten that she adopted in Wrightwood. It’s the smallest and cutest kitten I have ever seen. I wonder if she keeps it on her shoulder like a pirate while she hikes? It seems questionable to bring it through the Mojave and into the Sierra, but it was also reported that she was video chatting with her naked boyfriend on one of the communal laptops here so that tells you something.

We briefly went back into town for some food and to pick up some beers. Fun Dip and Viper used interesting hitching techniques, including Rockettes inspired high kicks and thumbs out butts out, eventually getting us a ride back.

We plan to zero here tomorrow because it sounds a lot better than getting to Kennedy Medows too early and waiting for the snow to melt.

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