Day 33: (10 miles)
mile 444.3 – 454.3 / 2275 ft – 2669 ft
Short quick day…no terrain photos as phone has been in a coma for two days now. We have been relying on Halfmile’s printed maps for direction. We passed by the “Golden Spike” (place with a mini monument where the PCT was dedicated upon its completion) as you exit Acton over the top of the railroad tracks and begin your 2000 ft climb over 3 miles. We crossed under Hwy 14 via a long and mysterious tunnel into the mouth of Vasquez Rocks recreation area. The area is Flintstone-esq and is the site for numerous movies and TV shows (Star Trek and an episode of Big Bang Theory come to mind). We are eager to reach Agua Dulce, home of Hiker Haven (the Saufley’s) for a Nero and possibly a Zero, and to get to a Verizon store to get my phone out of its coma and/or replaced. I am fearful I have lost all my contact and photos. As luck would have it, even before we reach the Saufley’s we are blessed with our own, what would be, personal trail angels, Bill and Kathy. We meet them on the trail near Vasquez rocks as their hiking route intersects with ours. Paul asks them which of the three paths we have before us gets us to town the easiest. They point us in the right direction and begin to walk and talk with us. Paul walks ahead with Bill, and Kathy and I stroll behind. Kathy is training for a half marathon she is going to do with her sister in San Diego, Bill and Paul talk about dogs and hunting. We talk about the PCT and some of our adventures. I ask Kathy if she knows where the nearest Verizon store is and why I need to go. She offers to take us there. I graciously accept the offer. Kathy asks when we want to go. I tell her, whatever is convenient for her, but she’ll probably want to let us clean up a bit at the Saufley’s before she let’s us in her car at close quarters due to our hiker trash aroma. By this time we are rounding the corner to Agua Dulce’s main street. It is still fairly early in the day and we are hungry and spy the rest of the hiker crew at the Sweetwater Cafe eating under a big banner welcoming the 2014 PCT hikers. Kathy and I catch up to Paul and Bill. Bill tells Kathy about us needing to go to a Verizon store and that they could take us. We laugh…funny you should mention that. Bill and Kathy further offer to let us shower at their home and even spend the night if we want as they have a spare bedroom. They explain that they only live a couple blocks away from the Saufley’s and they’d like to hear more about the PCT (Bill would like to hike it and is trying to convince Kathy that she would enjoy it as well). We heartily accept their offer to town and the shower as well. We are a little hesitant about the room as we are not sure what the set up is at the Saufley’s and do not want to inconvenience these wonderful people anymore than we probably already will. They insist it is no trouble for them, and leave us to get a bite to eat and think about what we want to do as they have a few things to do before they are ready to go into town (Santa Clarita). We drop our packs at the curb of the Sweetwater Cafe. We sign our names to the banner and enjoy one of the best meals we’ve had in awhile. Paul has an enormous breakfast burrito (that he initially wanted to share with me as he wasn’t that “hungry”) I decline and order chocolate milk and banana bread french toast…it was to die for! We practically lick our plates clean although, honestly we really weren’t that hungry. We don our packs and check the directions Bill gave us to his house. We walk admiring the neighborhood. We talk about how lucky we were to run into Bill and Kathy and think we must be doing something right for God to bless us with so much goodness. We are continually amazed by the kindness of strangers we meet along the way and marvel at their selflessness. We arrive at Bill and Kathy’s and are greeted by their champion hunting dogs. They welcome us into their home and have fresh towels ready for us to use. We leave our packs outside (no sense bringing in unnecessary grime). The shower is splendid, not only because the water is hot but also because the shower head is tall and we don’t have to duck or contort ourselves to get under the stream of piping hot water. Now that most of the grime and stench is gone, we are ready to go. They drop us at a Verizon store while they run some errands. The guy at the store is able to “wake” my phone from its coma, but cannot replace it or upload my info so as not to lose it. He directs us to the corporate store and begins to give us directions… We haven’t a clue where we are in southern California for the most part, and tell him verbal directions are useless to us, could we please just have the address. While we are waiting for Bill and Kathy, we get a soda and a snack at BevMo next door ( yes we only got a soda…thought it would be poor form to have a beer or two before our trail angels picked is up). We sit at an outdoor table and people watch. Paul accidentally drops one of the pretzels on the cement, we look at each other, the pretzel, and then make a conscious (although seemingly unnatural) decision NOT to pick it up off the ground. Hikers never waste food or water. If you drop food on the ground the five second rule never applies. Just pick it up, dust it off, and/or blow on it and eat it, no questions asked. Bill and Kathy arrive and agree to take us to the corporate Verizon. We are done in 30 minutes or so as my phone has a clean bill of health, but I cannot use the Bushnell solar charger for my phone as it appears to be what was affecting my phone. I buy a lightweight Motorola rechargeable battery pack as a replacement. On the ride back we talk about the trail and family, they again offer their spare bedroom. We can’t resist and accept the offer and the angels accept our offer to go out to dinner. Deal. We return to their home for laundry and a tour of the awesome garden, chickens, quail and the coolest outhouse we’ve ever seen. The outhouse had a flushing toilet made from a beer keg that actually flushed. Sorry we didn’t take a picture!
Kathy and Bill even lent us their car to pick up our resupply box from the Saufley’s. You should have seen the look on the other hikers faces when we arrived with a car. We were instantly inundated with questions, which we answered matter of fact like. Knowing full well we were the most fortunate hikers ever. We returned to our angel’s home for more socializing before going to the local French restaurant. We return stuffed to the gills and retire to a soft bed and the best nights sleep in a long time.
Day 34 (10 miles)
mile 454.3 – 464.3
In the morning we were treated to coffee, fresh egg omelet and toast before departing to the Saufley’s to prepare for an evening hike. We hope to have Kathy and Bill down to our home when we finish the hike in an attempt to return their hospitality.
At the Saufley’s we made plans with Imaginary Friend (aka. Gear Slut) to eat an early dinner and evening/night hike to beat the heat.
After dinner at the local Mexican restaurant and a few margaritas we knocked out ten miles, mostly in the dark and camped. Needless to say we went to sleep with big smiles on our faces thankful for how blessed we have been.