North Fork Ranger Station(436.1) to Hiker Heaven(454.5) 18.4 Miles
This was probably the earliest I have woken up yet. I was up at 4:45 and on trail by 5:30. My goal was to make it into Hiker Heaven by 2:30. I also wanted to stop by the KOA in Acton to get a Gatorade. I've been doing a great job with staying hydrated in the heat, but I haven't been maintaining my electrolytes very well. As I result I haven't felt very well the last few days.
Sunrise from the trail
I was glad to get an early start. By 7:30 it was already uncomfortably hot outside. The Acton KOA was only eight miles away and I made it there by eight o'clock. I found a place to rest in the shade and bought two Gatorades, a Starbucks coffee drink, a hostess cupcake, and a package of skittles. My new favorite Gatorade flavor is Lime Cucumber. It is delicious. Unfortunately the KOA didn't have that one. I had to settle for lemon lime strawberry. I thought it was hot outside, but sitting in the shade was almost cold. It is amazing how much heat is reflected back at me off of the desert sand.
I didn't get back on trail until almost ten o'clock. After rehydrating and topping off my electrolytes I felt much better. It is starting to get even hotter and I had 10.4 miles left to hike. After leaving the KOA I had a 1,300' climb to make. This section of trail is brutal because it is totally exposed. I can usually go 2-3 hours without taking a break, but today I had to stop almost every hour to cool down.
The highlight of the day was Vasquez Rocks State Park. When Hollywood needs to film desert scenes or anything from a different planet they come here. One of my favorite movies, Blazing Saddles, was filmed here.
After leaving Vasquez I only had a few miles to hike until I made it into Agua Dulce. Donna Saufley is an amazing trail angel who runs one of the best hiker hostels ever. I'm not sure hostel is even the right word. She has a few acres that have been turned into hiker trash heaven. She has a communications tent with six computers. Another tent holds two sewing machines to fix gear. A double wide trailer with a/c, tv, movies, and a shower. There are several RV's and campers or you can set your tent up. There are horse corrals for hikers traveling with pack animals. She also does your laundry for you. Last night there were close to 60 hikers here.
Small percentage of the yard
As soon as I arrived I put my name on the shower list. It took about three hours before I got in. My laundry was actually ready before I got out of the shower. I got a ride back into town and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The food was really good and the portions were gigantic.
I walked back to Hiker Heaven instead of taking the shuttle. I was stuffed and needed to walk off my food high. When I got back to my tent it was after dark. Hikers were sitting around the fire playing guitars, drinking beer, and swapping stories. I went to bed smelling good with freshly laundered clothes and a full belly. Once again life is good!
Never was so much owed by so many to so few - Winston Churchill