I woke up to other hikers packing up nearby, quietly chatting about getting to Paradise Valley Cafe today. I did not plan to go to the cafe so I took my time. Mary, the woman who owns the property on which we were camping, came down to our hiker area with her dog Scout and the remaining hikers thanked her for her generosity. One hiker offered a donation which she immediately refused. She restocked the printed poetry in the library and put up a sun shade over the picnic table- it is amazing how she and so many others give so much to take care of us hikers.
The hike out of Mary’s Place was uphill for quite a ways and even at 7am, the heat was oppressive. After about an hour and a half of climbing, I was rewarded with an absolutely incredible view.
The trail dipped down to cross Hwy 74, where many hikers hitch or walk to Paradise Valley Cafe. It can become a vortex and pull hikers off trail for hours, sometimes a full day. I had enough food and didn’t want to waste the money or time so I pressed on. There was trail magic on the other side of the highway- water and snacks. I grabbed some bars, topped off my water and kept moving.
The terrain became very rocky, with huge boulders looming everywhere. The trail itself was mostly white sand and would have been quite lovely if it did not perpetually go UP for the entire rest of the day.
Late in the morning, Cyndi caught up to me and we trekked together a bit. I took a bad step on some sand-covered rock and immediately went down, as though I were trying to slide down the trail. Hopefully now I won’t be known as Road Rash.
We pressed on to the next marked water source, where we met Lucas/Leapfrog from Germany. He and Cindy had started the trail around the same time but he had rolled his ankle a few miles outside of Warner Springs and had a pretty big “rescue” and recovery. He had called Warner Springs to see if a trail angel could pick him up at the nearest trailhead, but they called 911 and sent helicopters. It was definitely overkill.
We all walked together for a bit, the slow one and the healing injured. The trail just kept going up all day and I kept having to stop to catch my breath, but at least I got to enjoy the views instead of blowing past them. I eventually caught back up with Lucas and he helped motivate me to keep moving. He is a pretty funny guy who seemed to be struggling as much as I was which really helped as we continued huffing and puffing uphill.
We were almost out of water. The next water source was a mile off trail and the split was another 1.7 miles away, but we plopped down in a lovely little campsite. We joked about staying there, stretched a bit and grumbled about the last stretch of trail. Suddenly a southbound hiker appeared, planning to get to Paradise Valley Cafe so he could sleep on their porch that night. It was 5pm and Paradise Valley was almost 15 miles away. Goals, sir, congratulations and good luck. We figured if he had that kind of goal, we could get up and keep moving too.
We were so excited to make it to the trail junction, we did a little dance, took a picture and chugged the rest of our water. The trail to the stream, however, was nothing to be trifled with. Steep and full of loose rocks, it took us almost 45 minutes to navigate a single mile of downhill trail but the reward was worth it.
Cyndi, Gazelle, Mad Scientist and three new people were already in the pine oasis, crystal clear stream trickling past, mini waterfalls throughout. The new hikers were Hannah (Lunchbox) and her parents (Tom and Mary) who were joining her on trail for a few days from Cincinnati. We all had dinner together, chatted for a bit and retired to our tents. I really like this group of people and wish them all them all the best.
Also, I can see the lights of Palm Springs from my tent.
Trail magic: 1
Hiked with: Cyndi, Lucas, mostly alone
Camped with: Cyndi, Lucas, Gazelle, Mad Scientist, Lunchbox, Tom and Mary