Twig Adventures

Day 100: The Race to the Finish Line

October 13th, 2018
Agua Dulce mm 454.5 to North Fork Station mm 436
Distance: 18.5
1145 – 1830

This 100th day was a great one! The title will make more sense later. But first, there were a couple details I left out from yesterday. I didn’t describe my encounter with Cornelius. Readers will recall from previous blogs, I have a thing for catching chickens (and ducks, geese, peacocks, and… lots of birds). But especially roosters.

Well, the Saufleys had a flock and so I asked Donna if I could catch one. Her reply was ‘good luck, you’ll have to get past Cornelius first.’ Ah, I thought, even better that they have a sassy rooster. To preface, she did warn me profusely about how mean he was.

When I saw him, I immediately started having second thoughts. He was a big, tough looking rooster with 2 inch spurs. I was on his home turf and he felt very protective of his hens. Just as predicted, he started coming after me and I had to hold my foot out to check his advances. I tried to distract him with one hand while I reached around with the other to grab him, but he was too wise for my tricks. A minute into it, I realized it wasn’t worth the battle. I began to back away when he made one last attack and this time he managed to make contact on my foot with his spur. He punched a hole right through my shoe, sock and into my foot. Ouch!

This is not Cornelius but he was this size and color. This was a friendly Kiwi rooster that I caught in New Zealand (who didn’t have spurs).

I’d finally met my match and Cornelius came out the clear winner. To be sure, I asked for it. Luckily, the cut on my foot was superficial and the damaged shoe was from my old pair. But later that night, my foot was throbbing and I wondered if I would be the first person ever to have to quit the trail because of a rooster-induced injury. It also rained all night, which was unexpected. I haven’t been checking the forecast, assuming it’s all sunshine down here. Good timing to be under a roof.

My foot felt better in the morning. I was slow in leaving Hiker Heaven, taking advantage of the computer to download some podcasts. Finally I headed off towards town (after flipping Cornelius the bird) and was lucky to score a ride. We were both heading for the cafe, where I got strawberry crepes…yum! I ate this (second) breakfast with a bunch of the other hikers, then hit the grocery store for resupplies.

The small town center was hopping with people. I overheard that there was a 5k, 10k and half-marathon race taking place at the nearby Vasquez Rocks state park. The rocks have been featured in many movie sets, most notoriously Star Trek. Thus, the race was called Spacerock and had an alien theme.

Luckily I arrived after most of the runners had gone through the course. I was glad that I left town so late, otherwise I would have been caught up in the frenzy. I came over a hill and saw the finish line. The trail went right past it so I couldn’t resist crashing the party. I ran down the hill and entered the course in the last 5 meters to cross the finish line (there were no actual runners at the time). Another hiker joined me and the announcer played along, calling us in. Everyone was a good sport about it…that or they were just confused.

I didn’t get a finisher medal but was given water, energy drinks, and bananas, which was far better. The organizers were enthralled with the story of walking from Canada to Mexico. Since there wouldn’t be a finish line at the border, this was a good substitute. But I still had 453 miles to go…only.

After this nice distraction, it was time to get down to the business of walking. The rest of the day passed quickly. I took a break at a trailhead and watched as a couple of Fish and Wildlife officers inspected some hunters’ trucks. Then I met a couple on horses with a mule train and they warned me that it was the first day of rifle season. I was immediately glad for my bright orange rain jacket. The riders were understandably nervous, given that they were on the backs of brown, four-legged animals in a herd. They were hauling out equipment for a trail crew. I later met the crew and thanked them for their hard work. I also saw lots of hunters.

I made it to a ranger station just as it was getting dark. The caretaker, Todd, had been maintaining a supply of water jugs there. Jeff Saufley had already called to say that lots of hikers would be coming through. I love how everyone looks out for the hikers in this area, even us SOBOs. There were nice tent sites and a pit toilet there. I settled in for what we knew would be a damp night. It was still very humid and partly cloudy from the rain the night before.

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