April 28 to May 4
On day 35, we saw 3 snakes but none being rattlesnakes. However, I think we interrupted one of them having lunch because after it disappeared with a rustle, a black squirming lizard’s tail was left on the trail. I found the dismembered tail unnerving to see. That night we camped at the North Fork ranger’s station under the power lines which buzzed and crackled throughout the quiet night.
On day 36, we woke up to mist and drizzle. Hiking out in our rain gear, we quickly grew hot but luckily the grey weather burned out. In the afternoon, we hiked through the famous Vasquez rocks to get to Agua Dulce. We were famished by the time we hiked into town and had a late lunch at the local Mexican restaurant where we bumped into other hiker friends. Whilst Andrew walked the last 1 mile to Hiker Heaven (a trail angel’s house), another female hiker and I hitched a ride (in less than 5 minutes!) because non-PCT miles don’t count!
We had a zero mile day on our 37th day at Hiker Heaven. The Saufleys were incredibly generous hosts, providing free camping in their yard, laundry services, showers, kitchen facilities and shuttles into town. They also had a RV which served as a common area with a TV. In the afternoon, about 20 or so hikers crammed onto the couches to catch up with the latest episode of Game of Thrones.We left Hiker Heaven mid morning on day 38. The next trail angel’s house, Casa de Luna was only 24 miles away – we only aimed to hike half way so there was no rush. Many other hikers had the same idea so that night when we camped in Bouquet Canyon, there were about 10 tents crammed in 6 spaces – some hikers were even forced to cowboy camp because of the lack of tent real estate available!
Since we had camped in a canyon next to a flowing creek, we woke up to lots of condensation in day 39. We briefly dried out our sleeping bags before hiking out because we wanted to stay ahead of the massive hiker bubble we found ourselves part of. As the sun started shining on the mountain ridge, especially on the manzanita flower bushes, painted lady butterflies appeared. As we walked passed the manzanitas, the orange butterflies would burst out onto the trail in front of us. It was like this for most of the trail and I had to drag myself away from staring at the butterflies. After a short hitch from the trail we arrived at Casa de Luna.
Casa de Luna is the house of trail angels Terry and Jo Anderson. Previously this was known to be a party place but these days things were more chill. Hikers camp in the manzanita forest which is the backyard. Rocks painted by hikers coming through esch year decorate the forest. “Forest” is not an exaggeration because the manzanita trees are quite dense and the forest is very shadowy even during the day. At night, the forest is a bit spooky and it’s easy to get lost trying to find your tent!
On our 40th day, we continued on our hike after eating 4 pancakes each for breakfast made by Jo. We all felt a bit lethargic after several short days of hiking and struggled to make miles in the hot afternoon. We camped by a concrete cistern that night which made me thankful for our water filters. The water we gathered from the cistern definitely had an algae tinge!
For most of our 41st day, we hiked through forests. I loved hiking through the dappled sunlit groves where the ground was covered with vibrant green miner’s lettuce with delicate white flowers left and right. There was so much life in the desert! On the top of the ridge before we descended into the desert, we could see our next challenges ahead of of us – the arid Mojave desert and LA aquaduct. That night we also saw a grey fox with a bushy tail which stared at us inquisitively only about 8 metres away. We made sure to store our food properly even though the fox didn’t seem use to humans or interested in human food.