Not surprisingly we slept in till nearly 7am and were greeted to the sound of cooing pigeons that were waiting impatiently for us to exit our tents and drop food on the ground. Once up, we did not disappoint them. Several cups of coffee later, we were packed up and on our way (by 9ish).
Today was to be a “short” day, both in mileage and collective time on our feet. The map and sign said so…4.5 miles. Mostly up of course, followed by a sharp and steep down! It was a perfect morning for hiking though, as the air was cool and the skies were overcast. We passed several other thru-hikers heading in the opposite direction and exchanged information on each other’s routes. Just as we thought…uphill both ways, followed by corresponding downhills only a goat could love. Yea for us. This is not how we wanted to introduce our friends to “long trail” thru-hiking, but what can you do. My friend Jody is a great friend, with one exception, she continually fails to talk me out of hair brained adventures, and tends to join me no questions asked. (A marathon in Victoria – because they served beer at the halfway mark; a 3 day fly-fishing adventure in Bend Oregon – during the Bend BeerFest; Floating on inner-tubes (with fins) along the shoreline of Lake Shasta; Master’s Water Polo; Krav-Maga; and assorted other endeavors to include supporting us on the PCT) Now this, and in June Whitney via Cottonwood Pass is next. Hence, “SideKick” as she coins herself is a great trail name for her. (From now on she shall be referred to as “SideKick” .Today’s views made you feel like you were soaring above the island in a small plane. Shear rugged cliffs of soapstone and quartz stretched near vertical from the ocean’s floor. Dense fog toward the extreme West end of the island filled the deep coves like cotton batting, leaving the tops of each ridge exposed like tiny Islands floating in the sky.
As we made our way eastwards towards Little Harbor we follow the contours of the ridge line like a slow moving Chinese dragon in a parade. We take a snack break at a perfectly placed “hiker couch” (aka. Picnic table) and wait for a couple of hikers to finish their climb up the single track ridge route to our location, before we make our descent from whence they came.
We make sure to step carefully, and go into 4WD mode with our trekking poles, as a slip or fall here would prove disastrous. The trail is steep, flanked by pokey cactus, and the tread is filled with loose rocks that give way at the most inopportune times. SideKick, who is very sure footed slipped once and luckily landed on her butt… in the trail. I make it down unscathed, but can feel that a full blown blister has managed to form on the inside of my left heel despite my efforts to dissuade it from prospering.
Our days trek ended as we dropped into the campground at Little Harbor, complete with its own (for the most part), secluded beach. We set up camp and set out to explore, after first soaking our feet in the clear cool ocean water.
We watched as a marine biology survey team completed transect studies of the reefs exposed by the low tide in the neighboring cove. As we walk the beach, we find that we had to be careful to avoid globs of tar that littered the beach, most likely having slowly bubbled up from the ocean bottom and washed ashore. A petrified seal lies on the rocks and we joke, ‘Seal Jerky anyone’?
As we had finished “early”, the afternoon became a lounge fest that included a undeclared game of “musical chairs”. Brian and SideKick had each brought the new Helinox Chair One Mini pack chairs (Made by Big Agnes and they weigh a little over 1 pound), while we had our Z-pads. When anyone would get up to either get something to eat, walk on the beach, take a shower, whatever, it was ” move your meat…lose your seat”. Of course SideKick initially offered her seat up to me, as long as I wrote “nice things” about her in the blog. I was going to do that in the first place, but then those seats are sooo much more comfortable than the picnic table or my Z-pad to peck away on the blog, so I took her up on her offer. And Brian, not wanting to get bad reviews, then allowed SideKick to sit in his chair. Brian was of the opinion that if you didn’t carry it, you didn’t get to use it, which we were fine with considering we did give him some crap for bringing his own chair, and a backpack that was twice the size of Paul’s. When we started, we asked him if he weighed his pack. His reply was, “Don’t know. Don’t care! Does it really matter, cause I’m gonna bring the stuff I’m gonna bring and it weighs what it weighs”. Massive packs with lots of stuff, is not new for Brian who should be named “Mule Train”. Mainly, he has been known to double as a mule for another friend of ours who has perfected the art of “Glam-packing” (refusing to go without the creature comforts of fabulously prepared food no matter how far from “civilization” you plan to roam) to a whole new gourmet level the likes of which few have had the culinary pleasure of sampling. We however, were not Glam-packing this trip.
So, after piping hot Mountain House dinners and a shot or three of Scotch, courtesy of Brian, who brought a quart…and following more than a few rousing games of dice (if we were playing for money, I’d have enough to pay for the ferry ride home Friday), we crept off to our respective sylon castles and drifted off to sleep only to be awoken by a torrential downpour that was not supposed to happen till Friday night. Awesome!