Day 34- Vasquez Rocks

I didn’t write on this day (or the next few days) so pardon the brevity and “photo-dump” feel of the next handful of posts…

Our night at the KOA was somewhat terrible, with screaming children in the pool until 9:30pm, the bright lights on all night, and the Amtrak train blowing its horn while flying past regularly. We were tired and a little crabby but got got moving before the sun was fully up.

Jailbreak led the way since his knee was still considerably painful and we moved slowly but enjoyed our time and our surroundings. We found a beautiful Rosy boa soaking up some sunshine and couldn’t resist getting a closer look. Less than a mile later, we found a little baby rattlesnake and used a twig to move him off trail. His tiny baby rattle buzzed at us and it was adorable.

We took turns asking “get to know you” questions and the miles flew by as we laughed and told stories. We got to a dark tunnel that reminded me of the rails-to-trails tunnels we encountered on the NCT in PA and I had fun singing notes and building echoing octaves. We passed the 450 mile mark and some interesting trailside art.

We soon found ourselves entering Vasquez Rocks, an incredible geologic area with huge rock formations. Bandaid has a degree in geology and Jailbreak and I thoroughly enjoyed getting a long, detailed geologic history lesson. We asked lots of questions and learned much more than we anticipated.

There were some vernal pools totally filled with large tadpoles. I got to give a bit of a biology lesson at this point, and the guys asked great questions. We questioned each other about the plants as well, but no one knew about the native flora. Fortunately there were a few signs to help us out.

We took a LOT of time getting through this area, truly enjoying the natural splendor, grateful that the trail builders decided to pass through here instead of bypassing it. We were hiking into Agua Dulce today and this area bordered the main road to town so we were not particularly concerned about time.

It began getting quite hot and we had completed the trail to the road but weren’t quite ready to leave this fascinating spot so we ducked into the small visitors center to learn more. It confirmed what we had learned from Bandaid about how the rock formations were created and also informed us of the area’s cinematic history. Any westerns and scifi shows and movies have used this area as a backdrop- I may have to watch some of these when I get home!

We eventually wandered into town, hot and tired, and were quickly greeted by an exuberant older gentleman in a pickup truck, ready to take us to Hiker Heaven. We jumped in and were on our way. We learned that our driver was a body double for a character on NCIS and was very excited to talk about it while also being very proud of his town.

Hiker Heaven is a private residence owned by the Saufley’s, a well-known trail angel couple. We were overwhelmed when we walked in, and were quickly wowed by how clean, well organized and well thought-out this place was. We were greeted by half a dozen dogs of varying size who just wanted us to THROW THE BALL! We were also greeted by a knowledgeable man named “Nobody”. He gave us a laminated map and a quick overview of the rules and services available, also inviting us to come back and ask any questions we may have because “Nobody knows everything.”

There were three simple yurts set up in the yard and we dumped our packs in an open one before exploring the rest of the amenities. The majority of the yard was open for tent camping with a large cactus garden running through the middle and horse pasture (complete with three horses) toward the back of the property. Two long lines of port-o-potties sat next to the pasture, adding to the aroma. A chicken coop was nestled in the corner and its feathered residents roamed the property, checking out tents and rooting through neglected food bags.

We were starving so we caught a ride back into town and went to a Mexican restaurant that had large, tasty portions but very poor, slow service. We grabbed some basics from the sparsely-stocked grocery store before catching the carefully-timed shuttle back to Hiker Heaven.

There were a lot of hikers there including Downsize, Techno Gazelle, Captain Hook, Gypsy, Gryllz, Splash, PITA, Songbird, Eva, Barbeque Chicken and many others both familiar and unknown. We invited Downsize and Techno Gazelle to share our yurt and caught up with them a bit. Bandaid thought Downsize’s name was “Dance Eyes”, so now we are using them both synonymously. Bandaid and I dug through our resupply boxes and got homesick from the sweet notes inside. Jailbreak got a bunch of new gear as well, so we felt a bit like kids on Christmas digging through all of our mystery boxes.We lounged around for the rest of the evening, catching up with friends and enjoying the amenities.

There was an indoor area with a full kitchen, living room with tv and a bathroom. We ended up watching some terrible movie purely because it was on. It is strange how easily television and media can suck you in, even when you’ve been out basking in nature’s glory for weeks.

Tomorrow we will zero here since we have business to tend to and could all use some time to heal. Everything is an adventure out here, including sleeping in a yurt!

Miles: 10.5

Trail magic: 0

Hiked with: Jailbreak, Bandaid

Camped with: Jailbreak, Bandaid, Downsize, Techno Gazelle, others at Hiker Heaven

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