Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 5 : Barrel Springs

25 miles today
2562 miles to go

Fwap, fwap, fwapFwap, fwap, fwap… The wind rattles my tent. Hmmm… Where am I? I roll over. Crinkle, crackle, crinkle, crackle, my neo-air mattress makes a racket in my ear. Fwap, fwap, fwap. No more sleep. It's getting lighter. The wind is relentless. “Get up, get up, no more sleep,” it says. It was relatively warm last night. I used my sleeping bag like a quilt. The wind has come up in the last few hours and sleeping is no longer an option. 

The clouds are stacked up on the hills to the west. Is this a normal weather pattern or the harbinger of wetter weather in the near future? I don't know. It turns out there are lots of things I don't know. I'd rather not worry about stuff I don't know. So, how 'bout breakfast. That is something I do know and can control. I eat in my tent to avoid the gusty blasts of chilly air. I clean my cup with the last bit of hot water, then I drink to dishwater. When you carry every drop of water with you every drop is precious.

The trail climbs quickly from Scissors Crossing. Switchbacks, steep ones. I move through this new deserty terrain at a fairly good clip. The soreness in my feet seems to be diminishing slightly. Or maybe it's because I'm going up hill. Soon the valley and the crossing are far below. The trucks moving on the highway look like ants. There are other hikers out here. All new faces to me except Braveheart. She and I have a very similar pace. 

We reach the third gate water cache by noon. It's siesta time. The breeze is less here but still quite cool. I find a shady spot beneath a bush and park myself. Removing my shoes. I think my feet like the fact that I show them some consideration. They don't complain as stridently as they did yesterday. I nap for an hour before I decide it's time to get some water from the cache. I grab my bottle and walk the roughly quarter mile down to the third gate water cache. Thank you to the trail angel(s) that maintain this cache! I find a few hikers that I met earlier today sitting at the cache. Walks with Whiskey, Bearclaw, Bird, Happyfeet, and Lunchbox. Lunchbox assists me by holding the funnel so I can fill my bottle. I drink the twenty five ounces of water while I stand around talking with them. Two of them are from Hawaii, the other three hiked the AT together. They are a friendly fun-loving bunch of hikers. I refill my bottle and head back up the hill where I meet The Graduate and TRex. They hiked the trail last year and enjoyed it so much they are doing it again this year.

It's two or so and Braveheart and I think that getting to camp before the rain, if there is any rain, would be prudent. We pack and begin heading towards camp. We plan to camp at mile ninety three. As we hike we can see the clouds billowing over the ridge and filling the sky over our heads. We decide that maybe camp up here in the wind may not be the best thing. It would mean the we'd potentially have to hike in blowing rain in the morning. So we head on to Barrel Springs. It's only another nine miles and we figure we could be there around five or so. 

The wind blows gustily, it's cold, probably in the fifties or so. The sun is blocked by the overcast. Suddenly I am twelve years old again hiking on Twin Peaks in San Francisco. The air feels the same, the trail tread looks the same, and the wind, the wind is what transports me back. This is San Francisco wind. The kind with fog behind it. The kind that roared down Twenty Ninth street. The kind that we froze in while unloading the car after a camping trip to the sunnier parts of the state. Tramping back and forth from the car to the house in flip-flops and shorts in this freezing wind. No flip-flops today, but the wind feels the same through my nylon hiking shirt. This is the California coastal fog that I spend most of my childhood living and playing under. I wonder if it missed me? I certainly didn't miss it; moving to the Central Valley was the right move for me. Here I am hiking the San Francisco hills in the desert in Southern California, That the fog found me here I find a little ironic. 

Descending to Barrel Springs I pass the hundred mile mark. I snap a few pictures and let out a short "Woo Hoo". The hikers on the other side of the canyon look at me like I'm a nut. “It's only a hundred miles, you moron,” I imagine them saying. They don't seem to be enjoying their trip as much as I am enjoying mine. It's funny how two people can be experiencing the same event and come way from it with two completely different impressions.  

Barrel Springs is the place to be. At least if your one of the fifteen or so Thru-hikers that are here tonight. The wind is significantly less intense and the water is plentiful. I get the closest thing to a sponge bath using the freezing cold spring water to rinse out my pack towel. I fill my water bottle and bring it out to the sandy area by my tent to rinse my towel. The last thing I want to do is pollute the trough where hikers get there drinking water. 

Dinner is an exciting blend of Very Vegellicous Chili, Top Ramen noodles, and Freezze dried sausage. It looks like a ton of food in the bag I prepared it in. I finish all of it and still have room for some trail brownies. Clean (well, cleaner), well-fed, I climb into my tent as the cool darkness settles on the camp, literally a wet blanket, that ends all conversations as each of us separates into our own tents. The frogs begin to croak. All’s quite at Barrel Springs as hiker midnight (nine pm) approaches. Tomorrow, Warner Springs, resupply, maybe even hamburgers. I drift off thinking about hamburgers...


  1. Way to make great decisions about where to camp, Scott! Glad you got hydrated. I'm so inspired by your writing. Thanks for including me in your journey. God bless!

  2. Love this blog! I feel like I'm there!