Monday, May 26, 2014

Greetings from Hiker Heaven!

Leaving town is oftentimes the hardest part of the hike. It's interesting how the simple things like a hot shower, a bed, a greasy burger in a restaurant and the ability to wash your clothes can get you stuck in town. Drinking beer and jumping from bar to bar doesn't exactly make it easier, so I was glad when I found the courage not to take a Zero in Wrightwood, although the idea of doing so was very tempting.

I hiked out in the late afternoon and decided to do a Nero (near zero; those are the days when you only hike a few miles into or out of town). After about three to four miles I met Hugs, Pockets and Cracker Jack and decided to stay with them for the night. At first we cowboy camped (sleeping under the night sky without a tent), but at night a lot of condensation started dripping down from the trees because it got cloudy up there in the mountains. That made me get up at 3:00 a.m. to pitch my tent. Sleeping in a wet down bag is not really my idea of a comfortable night. The next morning I found out that I pounded one of my tent stakes into the ground a bit too hard. I tried to get it out for 20 minutes, dug a hole around it and pulled like a maniac; finally I just broke it off before I would lose my temper (well, yeah... to be perfectly honest: by that time I had already lost it, that's how I ended up breaking it in the first place).

So, five and a half tent stakes it is from now on. Shouldn't be much of a big deal as long as these giant pine cones around here don't fall down to rip a hole in my tent, giving me a skull fracture in my sleep.

Up, up and over! Mount Baden-Powell awaited me that morning. As a former boy scout this was an important landmark for me. Too bad it was all cloudy and I couldn't get a view from the summit. Unless you'd define heavy clouds with a visibility of 10 ft as a view. In the evening it started hailing about two minutes after I set up my tent. Talk about perfect timing, eh? The next morning I had to scratch a layer of ice from my tent. We got stuck in that weather for a couple of days. Yeah, it would've been too easy if California was sunny all the time, right? A couple of days later I learned that if it starts raining here, it pours. I got stuck in the worst hail and thunder storm ever. I was stupid enough not to put on my rain gear. The trail was overgrown with 7 ft high bushes, so after a while the water got into my boots until they were filled up to my ankles. On the Appalachian Trail I sometimes had to deal with rain that wouldn't stop for an entire week, but out here I wasn't prepared for it. That was the first rain I've seen since I left Idyllwild. At least the clouds disappeared in the evening and the next day everything was back to normal so we could dry out our soaked gear.

On April 25 I reached Hiker Heaven (a.k.a. The Saufley's) in Agua Dulce (milepoint 454.5) where I'm taking my first Zero since Idyllwild. I haven't seen all the hostels along the rest of the PCT yet, but if I had only one chance on the entire hike to take a day off, I would do it here. A large garden to hang around and camp, WiFi, computers, hot showers, laundry service, a TV with many DVDs (and VHS; yeah, that stuff still exists!), free bikes to ride into town (a fun ride of about a mile all downhill), shuttle service to REI and In-N-Out Burger, self-service post office, up to 50 hikers per night (all of 'em great companions, of course), and much more.

So please excuse me if I have to bring this blog post to an end, but I have to drink more beer. I only had about fifteen over the course of the day.

Happy Trails,


  1. Mr. Burger,

    I have to post a thank you to you or your parents or whomever is responsible. :-) It is a great pleasure to read a thru hiker blog that is well written. What I mean to say is your diction, grammar, punctuation and tone are astounding, compared to the average u.S. citizen's. (lowercase 'u' intended). Happy Trails!

  2. Hi Cheeseburger! My daughter (Dust Bunny) told me yours was a blog I should check out. I agree! Hers is pretty good too and mentions cheeseburgers ( I'm trying to narrow it down to 5 blogs I follow. Yours is on the list! Keep on truckin' and don't lose your awesome sense of humor!