October 25th, 2018
Warner Springs Community Center mm 109.5 to mm 75.5
Distance: 34 miles
0800 – 2000
My tent was mostly dry in the morning, despite the sprinklers. It was such a nice area that I took my time packing up. I regretted dragging my feet later in the day but at the time felt no rush. Stellar and Snowman had to wait on the post office to open for their packages and Zappy left just after me.
I was in a very good mood starting out on my own and enjoyed hiking up a river valley and then through open plains on a beautiful morning. I came to eagle rock, a series of boulders that have a pretty distinct figure.
Can you see the eagle?
I spent the rest of the day hiking along the San Felipe hills. The trail sidled in and out of every groove and it became a bit monotonous after about 5 hours of it. I passed the 100 mile mark…just a walk in the park left to go!
I came to a water cache for a late lunch and rested in the tiny amount of shade. I did more weaving in and out of the hills the rest of the day but at least the trail was in good shape and the views were great. I came to a spot that had a bunch of compass barrel cactus that were cool.
It was getting dark just as I came to scissors crossing and the road to Julian. I hadn’t planned on going to town but it depended on if I could find water at the junction. There was supposed to be about 8 gallons but all I could find was trash. I hated that it had just gotten dark, as it made it hard to search. I couldn’t even see where the trail went after it came to the road. If only I had left just a bit earlier that morning.
I texted Stellar for more info and meanwhile, decided to try to beg some water from a passing RV. There were 2 pulled over and I went to the first one. I think the family was making dinner and it must have scared the hell out of them to see a person just appear out of the desert in the dark. They gave me about a liter anyways and I figured that was better than nothing. I had one bottle of my own left but needed enough to make dinner and last me 24 miles to the next source the following day.
Stellar had written back something about an overpass and I suddenly noticed a bridge in the road. Generally such places should be avoided in the dark but I needed more water. I went off to the side and down, still no sign of a trail. Sure enough, I found a huge cache with at least 30 gallons. A trail angel named Grumpy had just been there that day and also left fruit, chips, and candy.
There was a creepy feeling about the place, like I was being watched, so I grabbed all I needed and left. Stellar later told me that he had seen a woman hanging out at 7 am the next morning, so I had probably been right about not being alone. It may be that other people besides PCT hikers take advantage of free water and food in the middle of nowhere. Who knows what else they might take advantage of.
I walked as far as it took to get away from the highway, which was a couple miles. I don’t carry weapons but what I do have is a brain and dependable feet to get me away from situations I don’t like. I kept my headlamp off most of the way, in stealth mode, relying on the moonlight. The white desert sand on the path was lit up like a beacon. Finally I felt good vibes about my location and set up among some bushes and cacti. I heard some coyotes start to yip and howl really close, so I took that as a good sign that other humans weren’t about in force. I also saw a kangaroo rat. The desert becomes quite alive at night and I have enjoyed seeing some different things while walking in the dark.
About an hour after I stopped, I heard footsteps. Because the person was walking without a headlamp, I was fairly confident it was Zappy. I quietly said “hey Zappy” and the footsteps stopped, then he replied. He was creeped out too and hearing a talking bush didn’t help. He told me that he had nearly stepped on a rattlesnake earlier. I felt better knowing he was camped just up the trail and slept quite well. The desert can be a bit unsettling sometimes.