Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 31 : Casa de Luna

25 miles today
2185 miles to go

I start early. I'm not the earliest. But it's dark when I walk out the gate of Hiker Heaven. My knee feels normal. No pain as I start down the road, past by commuters heading to work. This is my work. To walk, my weekend is over I have a week of work. It's supposed to be getting hotter than its been. More desert like. I pass through town, the PCT passes through town. It's the Main Street, not a trail. I walk on the left facing the oncoming traffic. I smile and wave at the commuters as they go by. Most wave back, some don't, they haven't had their coffee yet.

A giant dropped dusty drapes. The PCT crosses them from Agua Dulce to Green Valley. Bushes, very few trees; sage, manzanita; live oak. Very similar fauna to the foothills near home. Hot, HOT! The sun blazes away, no water for twenty four miles. Five liters, is it enough? I climb following the trail as it wraps around the folds in the giant’s dusty drapes. Climbing, climbing, slowly but inexorably climbing. 

A lizard sits in the trail in front of me. It takes off down the trail away from me when I get too close. It pauses, waiting for me to catch up. Then it tears off down the trail again. It seems to be trying to prove how fast it is. It leaps off the trail in time for another to take its place. This happens over and over again. One lizard replacing the previous in a ten lizard relay race. They all celebrated after I went past. They won, they probably did push-ups together in the hot sun. “Ha, we're faster than that old thru-hiker!”

I reach the top only to head down the other side of the drapes. I find the views less than satisfying. The heat continues to increase. I transition to my umbrella mode. Removing my hat and making my Buff into a headband. I know my hair sticks out the top all goofy, but it's a lot cooler. The trail is white gravel so it reflects the heat and light back up underneath my umbrella. At least I'm out of the direct sun. Time seems to slow down. It feels like I've been walking in this heat forever. The trail looks the same as it did an hour ago, or was it two, or four. Traveling in a maze of bushes that block the breezes the view doesn't change all that much. I begin to come across hikers swooning in the heat, trying to catch a little shade under some of the bigger bushes. I don't even consider stopping. I only have so much water, when it's gone I'm in trouble. By mid-afternoon I am down to a half a liter. There is a extra long stretch leading hopefully to the last pass of the day. It's miles and miles long. I take a swig of water and hold it in my mouth while trying to remember in what movie I saw that. It was a movie with a Native American Chief training his son to run a long ways and then having to spit the water into a container. I tell myself to hold out until the next turn, then the next. I end up using three swigs of water to get to the pass. It is such a wonderful refresher when I finally allow myself to swallow. 

Downhill goes fast, this is where my knee feels the worst. It's been good all day. Achy but solid. The ache may signify I need to stretch more. I always need to stretch more. Down, down, down, around twisty turns in the bushes. I go slow and favor my right knee. I really don't want to injure it again. I can see the ranger station that has the spigots mentioned in the water report. I drink the rest of my water, literally a single swig. Now I have no water and a half mile of hot walking to go. It's amazing the mental toll that places on me. I begin to really feel exhausted. “Water, water, I need water,” I see a Thru-hiker possibly filling a water container. It's Hatchet. “Is that where the water is?” I mouth the words, no sound comes out. He nods. I walk as quickly as I can and immediately fill my water bottle with cool clean water. I guzzle the entire bottle in a single chug. I refill it and another liter in my other water container, then I go sit with the other Thru-hikers under a pergola that shades a memorial. I rest for about a half hour before deciding to push on to the Casa de Luna. I start the walk but get picked up by a guy with a truckload of dirty thru-hikers. He careens down the highway like he's done this before. 

Some Thru-hikers have referred to Casa de Luna as ‘hippie daycare’ in their blogs. There is a sign hanging on the front of the house confirming it. There are scads of Thru-hikers sitting in the driveway and front yard of the place. Most of them I met at Hiker Heaven. Here they are sitting on old coaches, lounge chairs and metal folding chairs. They all yell greetings to us as we climb out of the bed of the pickup. I see Erin and Rachel who I haven't seen for hundreds of miles. Erin is now Bing. There is a magical manzanita forest in the back of the house. It's quiet there. I find a spot for my tent, set it up and unload the contents of my pack into it. I get cleaned up then don a Hawaiian shirt which is the mandatory attire for anyone choosing to stay here. I sit around talking with the other Thru-hikers until dinner is announced. All you can eat taco salad. I have two platefuls of taco salad and suddenly a deep exhaustion hits me. I am wiped out. I stumble back to the magic forest and crawl into my tent and lay there until it becomes cool enough to sleep.

No comments:

Post a Comment