Friday, May 6, 2016

Day 6 : Agua Caliente

15 miles today
2548 miles to go

Twitter pitter, Twitter pitter. It's dark before the sun is even lightening the sky. Twitter pitter. A light rain is hitting my tent. Looks like the rain finally showed up. Other than the rain it is completely silent, except for the occasional smoker’s cough coming from a tent on the distant side of camp. Twitter pitter. I drift off… …it's barely light enough to see. I need to pee. Rather than try to get back into my bag it's easier just to stay up and pack. It's still occasionally raining. More spitting than raining. I slide out of my sleeping bag. The predawn darkness is initially chilly in comparison to my bag. I change out of my sleep clothes, the cleanest clothes I own, and into my disgustingly filthy hiking clothes they are still damp and clingy from yesterday's sweat. I know, right? It makes my skin crawl. I wander a ways up the trail and take care of my immediate need. Returning to camp I pass the dark silhouettes of tents filled with sleeping hikers and breakfast. I am out of breakfast now, there is more waiting for me at the Post Office in Warner Springs.

I pack my things quickly in a lull between showers. The trail north from here is lower. Crossing fields where cattle often graze. I see no cattle today. Eagle Rock in the rain is more of a drive-by venue, actually walk-by venue today. The rain becomes consistent and insistent as the hours pass. I've been on this trail before and it's hard to not let my mind run on ahead. Stay in the present what is happening right now? I'm cold and wet. When will this end? I meet up with Chips. He's hiding under a tree adjusting the straps of his pack. “I hope they have breakfast sandwiches,” he says. “Any type of breakfast would do for me,” I say. I'm pretty sure there won't be breakfast waiting for us. 

At long last we reach the community resource center. Alas, no breakfast. But there is coffee. There is also the sheriff’s car idling by the door. I grab a cup of coffee and hop in the front seat of the sheriff’s vehicle. He gives me and three other hikers a ride to the Post Office. Back forth he drives while I stand in line. He should have a taxi light rather than sheriff lights. Warner Springs is a friendly hiker town. At least based on the actions of the local sheriff.

I got two of the three packages I expected and a ride back to the resource center. Thank you Mr. Sheriff. Opening my resupply boxes was like Christmas. So much new food! Food I still look forward to eating! Hikers are sitting around in the warm resource center waiting. Rain, rain, more rain. Sitting and sitting. I decide the sitting is boring and will ship my maps and errant spork home. No need to carry the useless extra weight, and besides, sitting is boring. 

This time the sheriff was gone on some more important task than driving dirty, wet, smelly Thru-hikers to the post office. I walk with my rain poncho, wind breaker, and fleece pullover. It was about three-quarters of a mile into my mile long walk that I realized, I have too many articles of clothing on. I'm sweating! Uck! Yuck! Eeew! Nothing to do but keep walking. I walk, and walk, oh I am so uncomfortable, sweat dripping down my back and rain drops down and off my nose. I walk into the front door of the Post Office for the second time and immediately begin undressing tossing in wanted articles of clothing onto the floor. What have I become? Have I no shame?

I walk to the counter and ask the cheapest way to ship my stuff home and the postmaster weighs my things and then hands me the correct container. I ask if she could check one more time on an item that I should have received. Yes she can, she does, no more items. After checking further I find that the item was FedEx’ed. I ask try clerk if they receive FedEx’ed items and gave her the tracking number. She looked it up and said it was delivered but not to the Post Office, check the resource center. A friendly community member asked me if I needed a ride back. Awesome! I collect my discard clothing from the floor and follow him to his car.

The resource center has my final package. I only had to ask for it. I also asked for an ice cream sandwich based on the advertisement posted on the wall. I walk back to Braveheart and say, “every day’s a good day for ice cream.” Thru-hikers heads pop up all over the room at the magic words, “Ice cream.” About seven people immediately got up and stood in line to buy their own ice cream. I thought about going back to the counter and suggest that mine should be free since I sold seven more for them, but I didn't. It was worth a dollar fifty, besides just like the sheriff we all have different things we do to provide good to the community.

Sitting is boring! I leave. I walk away from the crowds and back on to the trail. I leave by myself. Braveheart’s battery was still charging on her phone. I walk into the rain, I don't wear my fleece or my windbreaker, they are safely stowed in my pack. It's comfortable. After about thirty minutes the rain stops. My umbrella comes down and my poncho comes off. I'm slowly walking though thick manzanita thickets. I remember this being so hot and dusty now it's cool and pleasant. I meander down the trail without concern or worry. I ponder the fact that I did the exact same thing last time I was at Warner Springs. Something about the crowded room and the noise. It was like being in a ski lodge. With people tromping in and out with all kinds of weather gear on. I had to leave. I'm not sure exactly why, but I felt more peaceful and relaxed the moment I walked away. 

Braveheart caught up to me just as we approached the place we planned to meet. Overcast but no rain. We choose our spots to camp. I choose the sand out in the open she chooses a spot under a big tree. It's supposed to rain a lot. Perhaps she was wiser in her spot. The creek flows merrily on the canyon here. The noise is joyful and pleasant. I wash my socks, gaiters, and zip off pant legs in the creek. Joy of joys, I am finally able to remove the five days layered on gunk from them as well as my feet! 

Feeling somewhat refreshed, I start on dinner. I don't really have enough water, that shouldn't matter… It matters! When your cooking process involves rehydrating food. Water matters! Unfortunately I had used all the clean water I had, without waiting for more water to be cleaned or burning more fuel, there was nothing to do but choke it down. Which I did! I sure would love a pizza right now. 

Clean, fed, in the tent by five. I situate and orient everything and drift off for a nap. I awaken to the sound of rain as the darkness settles on us. I hear voices of other hikers as they set up camp in the descending darkness and rain. I am warm, dry, and glad to be alive. Sure miss eating pizza though.


  1. Enjoying your trek and the way you bring us into every detail.
    Sue Batz

  2. I'll have done thin crust pizza for you Scott!

    Enjoyed the read.