Day 32 – Zero Day at the KOA

In trail lingo, a “zero” is a day you hike no PCT miles. A “nero” is when you hike just a few.

today was my third “zero” of the trip and it was gloriously relaxing. Heck, I didn’t even put my shoes on until after it was dark. Flip flopping in my sandals all day was quite a luxury and gave my feet a chance to dry out and heal.

I washed my laundry and even my shoes, “so fresh and so clean clean.” 

I discovered who was the lucky recipient of my mini water cache from day 2, it was my friends Lucky and Sweet Tea, the first two people I met on my first day of hiking. Wow, that was a month ago and Sweet Tea was super appreciative, saying he felt like he was dying of thirst when he found my bag of water.  

I caught up and played frisbee with them in the afternoon, here is Lucky eating off of the frisbee earlier in the day. 

Lucky is a survivor of a traumatic brain injury and he and Sweet Tea are raising money to help others in recovery. Check out their fundraising page here:

http://www.highhopes.ws/hikeforhighhopes

It was so good to see them again!

A guy named Dave was giving hikers rides into town in his stretch limo. I didn’t need to go anywhere but he still offered to drive me around the KOA to get a feel for limo riding.

Thanks Dave! 

Seriously. 

He treated us to Champaign and we toasted with styrofoam cups. 

Me, Clay, Poodle Lips, Lucky, Unicorn, and Dave. 
Me, Clay, Poodle Lips, Lucky, Unicorn, and Dave. 

At dinner time, it was announced that Shawn, Maverick’s roommate, had arrived with spaghetti and meatballs, several pizzas, a chocolate cake and a cooler full of beverages.

Hiker feed compliments of Shawn. 
Hiker feed compliments of Shawn. 
Shawn grew up in LA but his family is from Iowa and he spent many a summer there, familiar with all sorts of towns, even my hometown of Winterset. 
Shawn grew up in LA but his family is from Iowa and he spent many a summer there, familiar with all sorts of towns, even my hometown of Winterset. 

Speaking of Winterset, a grade school friend of mine arrived just after dark, and she and her friend Julio took me out to dinner at Sweetwater Cafe in Agua Dulce and then we all camped out at Vasquez Rocks, talking late into the night. I hadn’t seen her in over a decade and it was such a treat to be in her company after all these years.

Thanks Danila!!!

❤ Will

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Day 31 – Vasquez Rocks

I woke to commuter traffic on both the highway and railway that sandwich the Acton KOA and headed out early to explore the Vasquez Rocks. 

Hiker tents on the lawn. 
Hiker tents on the lawn. 

before I could get there, I had to cross the bog of eternal stench. 

Just up the hill from what is rumored to be the most polluted area of the trail is the “golden spike,” a monument in the place where the PCT was officially completed.

It was a beautiful morning and the temperature was rising quickly. 
It was a beautiful morning and the temperature was rising quickly. 

I took a break to contemplate the traffic along Highway 14 and the completion of my first month on the trail.

I crossed Highway 14 by way of a tunnel, and was soon treated to what appeared to be a whole new world. 

The rocks had a mysterious and familiar quality to them. 
The rocks had a mysterious and familiar quality to them. 
Someone mentioned they were the backdrop to the live action Flintstones movie that came out in the nineties. 
Someone mentioned they were the backdrop to the live action Flintstones movie that came out in the nineties. 
I met some equestrian folks who volunteer with the local parks and recreation department to keep the trail and the people on it happy and healthy, offering food and water to hikers passing by.
I met some equestrian folks who volunteer with the local parks and recreation department to keep the trail and the people on it happy and healthy, offering food and water to hikers passing by.
Such a unique and beautiful place. 
Such a unique and beautiful place. 

I reached the tiny village of Agua Dulce and breaked for lunch and ice cream and then hitched back to the KOA to spend the night with some friends who had just arrived.

❤ Will

Day 30 – Acton, CA

After facing our last poodle dog bush gauntlet, we were treated to a flower covered trail. 

Eek! 
Eek! 
Much better. 
Much better. 

The terrain switched back to desert and we could see for miles and miles.

There was a water station set up at a ranger station and this kind fellow was manning it, also offering us red delicious apples. 

iPod, the man behind the magic. 
iPod, the man behind the magic. 

iPod has completed 3 thru hikes of the PCT and is also the person who owns the Ziggy and The Bear house near mile 200. He has spent years volunteering at the various trail angel houses and has played a large role in building the community around the trail. He only revealed this info after I asked him about his story.  “Pay it Forward,” he says. 

I said goodbye to my dear friends Moon Burned and GT Cookie, they were leaving the trail for a day or two and I needed to race down the mountain to reach the Acton post office before 5 pm. 

My hiking buddies this past week. 
My hiking buddies this past week. 

I raced the 9ish miles down the mountain, and reached the highway by 4 pm. At 4:50 I was beginning to wonder if I was going to make it in time. 

perhaps the 50th car to pass by, Johnny saved the day and we sped into town. I reached the post office at 4:57. Thanks Johnny!!! 

Pony Express? !
Pony Express? !

I received my first care packages of the trip and my goodness what a treat!!! My friend Jenny and her family sent me a weeks worth of incredibly delicious food and my parents sent me maps and some tasty treats for the next couple hundred miles. I love you all, thank you so very much! 

Thanks mom and dad! 
Thanks mom and dad! 
Thank you Jenny, Scott, and family!!! 
Thank you Jenny, Scott, and family!!! 

I met Jenny and her family at Land Of The Sky UCC and we connected over music. I feel so blessed to know her and her family.

Thank you mom and dad for always supporting me and loving me more than I can imagine. 

I ate some pizza with my friends Apollo and Starbuck and hitched back to the trail to spend the last few hours of the day soaking in a hot tub at the Acton KOA. 

❤ Will

 

Day 29 – Burn Zone

Today we hiked trough a section of trail that had been badly burned in a forest fire. 

Some sections were spared.
Some sections were spared.
And others will take years to recover.
And others will take years to recover.

Interestingly, half way through the section was a fire station. They graciously offered us water and a place to rest. 

There were lots of flowers along this recuperating section of trail. 

And a TON of poodle dog bush. 

It looks innocent enough but is REALLY harmful to humans. 
It looks innocent enough but is REALLY harmful to humans. 

Several of us camped out together and we were treated to the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in a long time. 

Wait for it... 
Wait for it… 
Ooh
Ooh
Ahh
Ahh
Yeah. 
Yeah. 

❤ Will

Day 28 – 400 miles!!!

Today started with a road walk detour around a 4 mile section of the trail that is closed due to being the habitat for an endangered species, the Arroyo Toad.

Thankfully there was not much traffic on Highway 2.
Thankfully there was not much traffic on Highway 2.
It felt a bit like playing Frogger. 
It felt a bit like playing Frogger. 

We finished the road walk intact and were greeted at the nearby campground by a kindhearted couple that offered us water, fruit, granola bars, and almonds.

Guy and Elisabeth, check out their license plate! 
Guy and Elisabeth, check out their license plate! 

Here is a closer look. 

We met back up with the PCT and soon approached the 400 mile mark. 

Woo hoo!
Woo hoo!

I also saw a curiously burned pine tree. 

And had to get a closer look. 

Yep, DEFINITELY a portal. Good thing I kept my pack on. 
Yep, DEFINITELY a portal. Good thing I kept my pack on. 

We breaked at a Boy Scout Camp and filled up on orange tinted water. 

It tasted good though. 
It tasted good though. 

We hiked on a few more miles and camped upon a nice flat spot on a low peak. 

On our way up, I took a picture of this rather striking individual. 

Once we were settled in, Moon Burned taught me how to play rummy as I ate my Mac and Cheese and snack pack pudding cup for dinner. 

It feels so good to be hiking and camping with friends. 

❤ Will

Day 27 – Mount Baden-Powell

We woke up to a foggy mountain but luckily took our time getting to the top so it had all burned off by the time we were there. 

We had a snow ball fight on the way up and did some lounging in the snow. 

Near the summit was a sign indicating the estimated age of a rather strikingly gnarley tree. 

Estimated age? 1,500 years. Wow! 
Estimated age? 1,500 years. Wow! 

Here’s the sign. 

May or may not be legible but I promise that is what it said. 
May or may not be legible but I promise that is what it said. 

At the top was a monument to the man himself, I posed next to it in what seemed to be the most appropriate fashion. 

Robert Baden-Powell, I salute you!
Robert Baden-Powell, I salute you!

We hiked through quite a few patches of snow.

And couldn’t resist making one of these. 

So much snow! 
So much snow! 
All along the trail. 
All along the trail. 

We descended back into the forest and I even met eyes with a very cute little black bear that was cutting through some switchbacks just up from me. 

It was a very fun, scenic,
It was a very fun, scenic,
And bee-utiful day.
And bee-utiful day.

❤ Will

Day 26 – Wrightwood, CA

I spent the morning with my host family, they fed us generously with pancakes, sausages, eggs, and potatoes, the works! 

Mike and Sue, and fellow hikers Irene and Jorge. 
Mike and Sue, and fellow hikers Irene and Jorge. 

We sang some songs and I picked out a couple on their daughter-in-law’s ukulele. They really enjoy hymns, too, and introduced me to some new and old ones. 

It felt so good to be in the company of such a loving family. I left by mid afternoon and said hi to some friends in town before getting a ride with Pattern Seeker and his step dad, a really cool dude. Check out his license plate!

Paytern Seeker's family were in town for his birthday and treated us hikers to cake and fruit smoothies, yum! 
Paytern Seeker’s family were in town for his birthday and treated us hikers to cake and fruit smoothies, yum! 

I returned to the trail feeling inspired and touched by all of the forms of generosity and kindness that were shared with me. 

I hiked on through the cool mist, with pleasant thoughts floating through my mind.

I met up with my friend Moon Burned who was taking a nap along the trail. 

We hiked on into the twilight and found a nice flat spot to cowboy camp on Mount Baden-Powell.

The softly setting sun. 
The softly setting sun. 

❤ Will

Sunday Serenade #4

Hello friends! 

This week’s song is a really beautiful old school gospel hymn called “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

I feel like it has been easier to trust my intuition this week and I have been guided towards the most beautiful, interesting, and loving people. 

This song reminds me of how wonderous life is when we exist in a state of trust.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/bns348smaz01c38/great%20is%20your%20faithfullness.mp3?dl=0

Wishing you the heart of trust this week and for unexpected joys to find their way to you in the coming week. 

❤ Will

Day 25 – Wintry Walk into Wrightwood

Whoa nelly was it chilly this morning. I had 8 miles to go until I reached the road to Wrightwood so I bundled up the best I could and took off before eating breakfast, waiting to eat until I’d warmed up a bit.

I stared the day with a climb and things got icier the further up I went. 
I stared the day with a climb and things got icier the further up I went. 
Time seemed to have stopped, the world frozen around me. 
Time seemed to have stopped, the world frozen around me. 

I wore my wool socks as mittens. They were a little funky but well worth the warmth 🙂 

I occasionally broke out into little fits of laughter and tears, astounded by the beauty around me and in complete awe of my surroundings.

There were moments where I wondered, “Where am I?” 
And moments where I was comfortingly reminded that I was still on the right path. 
And moments where I was comfortingly reminded that I was still on the right path. 

This past winter I longed for the transformative beauty of ice and snow.  

To experience it in such a profound way, today, brought joy to my heart. 
To experience it in such a profound way, today, brought joy to my heart. 

The trees seemed suspended, bent from persistent and powerful gusts of wind.

Still they held on, roots firm and strong. 
Still they held on, roots firm and strong. 

I reached highway 2 and was immediately picked up by some locals who were heading back into town. 

There was a directory of hiker helpers at the local hardware store and I got in touch with Sue, who welcomed me and 3 other hikers into her and her husband Mike’s home.

We had a delightful time together. I felt deeply connected to these kind hearted and generous people that welcomed us “wayfaring strangers” as family.

❤ Will

Day 24 – Cajon Pass

I woke up in my skylit canyon “cabin,” ready for some “real” food.

Crowder canyon, where I laid my head to rest for the night. 
Crowder canyon, where I laid my head to rest for the night. 

In less than a half mile, I was introduced to the roar of interstate highway rush hour traffic. 

Everyone seemed to be in a hurry, at least they appeared to be driving very fast, compared to my steady 2.5 mph pace.
Everyone seemed to be in a hurry, at least they appeared to be driving very fast, compared to my steady 2.5 mph pace.

I soon approached the mythic McDonalds sign and it pointed the way to those much spoken of golden arches.

 We geek out over some funny things out here.
 We geek out over some funny things out here.

I paid my respects to this trusted American institution and received my 1,300+ calorie reward. 

This was most but not all of the meal. The hash browns disappeared...
This was most but not all of the meal. The hash browns disappeared…

The novelty of eating fast food reminded me of the post soccer game meet ups of my youth, back when Michael Jordan was still peddling hamburgers.

Those calories carried me quite a ways. I climbed over 5,000 feet in elevation during the course of the day, covering about 20 miles in the process. 

Overlooking Cajon Pass, a crossroads for automobile and locomotive traffic. 
Overlooking Cajon Pass, a crossroads for automobile and locomotive traffic. 

The pass was visible during most of the climb, the cars and trains shrinking by the mile. 

The most challenging part of the day may have been avoiding this pernicious plant. 

Poodle Dog Bush. It looks friendly and smells kind, but brushing up against it will land you in the hospital. 
Poodle Dog Bush. It looks friendly and smells kind, but brushing up against it will land you in the hospital. 

This stuff was all over a section of the trail. It pops up in areas that have recently burned and may be mother nature’s way of tell us to leave the land alone so it can heal. 

It was reaching out over the trail from both sides and felt like a gauntlet.

Much to our thirst quenching surprise, immediately after this section was over, Ed was waiting to give us some treats and reassure us that the worst was over, at least for today. 

Ed lives in Wrightwood and has been giving hikers treats for 15 years. He picks this spot because he views it as the most rewarding place for refreshment along this 27 mile waterless stretch of trail. Thanks for the Cheetos and Gatorade, Ed, they really hit the spot! 
Ed lives in Wrightwood and has been giving hikers treats for 15 years. He picks this spot because he views it as the most rewarding place for refreshment along this 27 mile waterless stretch of trail. Thanks for the Cheetos and Gatorade, Ed, they really hit the spot! 

We climbed for several more miles and I stopped for the day when I started seeing snow.

I just can't get enough of this stuff.
I just can’t get enough of this stuff.

I threw a snow ball at some friends that were breaking for dinner and then joined them in savoring the view of the now cloud covered pass below. 

The sea of clouds made the far off mountain look like it was an island floating in the sky. 

The chilly fog was starting to roll in further up the mountain, so I decided to hunker down for the night and tackle the summit in the morning.

It was cold down there at 8,100 feet, but as I later discovered, there were far more wintry conditions awaiting hikers at the campground near the summit. 

❤ Will