Jailbreak and I were up early, ready to hike at 5am. We didn’t see Bandaid so we waited. And waited. And waited. 45 minutes later, we decided we should go see if he was ok, so we hiked back the quarter of a mile and he was gone without a trace.
We had no idea whether he had gone forward and somehow passed us or gone back to town, but we didn’t have cell signal so had no real option but to push forward. We moved swiftly in the quickly-warming morning air. Our goal was Casa de Luna, the home of another reknowned trail angel who hosts hikers on her property.
We filtered water from a spring and carried as much as we could, not knowing if the next few water sources were reliable. Bandaid had had a bit of a panic moment at Hiker Heaven regarding water availability in this section, and Jailbreak and I heard this anxiety but weren’t terribly worried.
Somewhere along the way, we saw the sign above and followed the side trail to a small parking area where we met Forklift, a trail angel. He welcomed us enthusiastically and offered us a buffet of goodies. He said he had been doing this every day for around a week and told us his story as we tried to determine the appropriate amount of trail magic to take. Ice water, Gatorade, coconut water, cold Snickers bars, organic fruit snacks, bananas and egg mcmuffins…. we were in heaven. We stayed and chatted for a while then, feeling refreshed, headed back to the hot desert in search of Bandaid.
We knew that Casa de Luna served dinner but had no idea what time. Jailbreak’s knee was still hurting a little so we weren’t going incredibly fast, although we did catch up to Siren and Pep Talks and continued leapfrogging with them for most of the day. The four of us stopped for lunch in a little cove of manzanita bushes and were soon joined by Dad Jokes. It was still too hot to hike after we ate, so everyone took an hour-long siesta before continuing on. This really is the only way to deal with the midday heat- just find some shade, wait it out, nap if you can. Frustrating but necessary.
Four or five miles from the turnoff to Casa de Luna, Jailbreak paused in a precious shady spot. It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was pounding down on us. Siren, Pep Talks and Dad Jokes had passed us long ago as our pace gradually slowed. Between the heat-induced swelling and the knee-induced limping, Jailbreak had developed some nasty blisters. He told me to go on without him, find Bandaid and get dinner from Casa de Luna.
I pushed on in the heat, alone. I still love hiking by myself and though I felt bad leaving Jailbreak behind, it was great to be able to go at my own pace. By the time I got to the trail register by the road, I was completely exhausted and mentally drained from the heat. I looked through the register looking for Bandaid’s sign-in, but the pages were all full and jumbled, out of order and scribbled. I didn’t see his name but saw a few others I recognized. I started walking down the road toward Casa de Luna, putting my thumb out with every passing vehicle but having zero luck. I was less than an half mile away and literally felt as though I would collapse when FINALLY a pickup truck pulled over. There were already hikers in the back and I hauled myself in as well.
I almost fell out of truck when we got to Casa de Luna from total exhaustion. I didn’t see Bandaid but saw other familiar faces, including Downsize and Techno Gazelle, who told me to go inside and hug Terrie. Like a zombie, I dropped my pack and followed instructions. In the house was Terrie Anderson, the owner of Casa de Luna, preparing dinner with -you guessed it- Bandaid. FINALLY.
I hugged them both and thanked her for her hospitality. Places like this really help the hikers, especially through these hot, dry sections. Bandaid had gotten us beers from the corner store and he told me his experience of the day over a cold one. Somehow he had woken up at 3am and was full of energy. He passed us in the dark, but thinking we were still ahead of him, he pushed hard all the way here and arrived in the early afternoon.
Jailbreak limped in just in time for dinner: nachos with refried beans, cheese (none for me), olives, salsa, onions, jalepenos, etc. You could take as much as you wanted and we all stuffed ourselves. The driveway has a carport/tent over it packed with old couches where hikers lounge, eat, whatever. There are a few port-o-potties along the road, many trash/recycle cans, a messy hiker box and another popup tent for serving food.
The Anderson’s property has a manzanita forest in the back, which many hikers say is “magical”. This is where everyone camps, and Terrie warned us of thieving squirrels, so we put our food in the garage before cowboy camping. The mosquitoes were persistent but after our long day, we were too tired to do much about them other than cheer on the occasional bat flying overhead.
(Sorry for the lack of pictures today! That one is the ONLY one I took all day- I guess I was too hot to think of it. More pics tomorrow, I promise!)
Trail magic: 0
Hiked with: Jailbreak
Camped with: Jailbreak, Bandaid, others at Casa de Luna