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Day 29: A Magical Trail

Posted by on June 1, 2015

May 29, 2015
Tentsite near Vasquez Rocks (452.3) to Casa de Luna (478.6)
26.3 PCT miles today
494.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 6,698 ft, – 5,203 ft


Before Pickles and I started this hike, I would hear hikers talk about how magical the PCT was, and how it always ended up providing exactly what you needed, exactly when you needed it. For the last few weeks I had started to doubt this claim, instead insisting that it was really more about just being in the right place at the right time. In fact, it was starting to feel like the trail couldn’t have cared less for us humans, and would toss us to the wolves if it got the chance. But then today happened. A magical day on the trail where so many of our needs were met and where, looking back, the PCT seemed to have been watching our back all along.

It started this morning when we walked a short 2 miles from our campsite into the tiny town of Agua Dulce. We stopped at the Sweetwater Cafe for breakfast (our plan all along since we were one breakfast short in our ration and we thought a big tasty breakfast would be fun). We weren’t the only hikers there. In this tiny town, about 6 of us hikers (all new people we had met in the last 12 hours) had congregated at the restaurant, pleasing the owner greatly, I’m sure, with our ravenous appetites. Our meals were fantastic; better than we expected. As we started to make our next moves (we needed to fill up waters, run across the street to the grocery store, and grab our devices which were charging in various outlets) we asked the waitress for our bill, at which point she told us that it had been paid for by the nice local couple who had just left. Amazing!! We had only talked for a short bit with these kind folks, sharing a little about the trail and our experience, and in turn, they had treated us to a free meal, something that no one can appreciate better than a thru-hiker. We were blown away by the kindness, and chalked it up to some great karma, when the next magic rolled around.

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In every town there is always a “hiker box” which is a place for hikers to leave behind weight they don’t want to carry, and other hikers to find products that they might have been needing. Basically, it is a box of magic just waiting to happen. Over the past couple weeks, my feet were in so much pain by the end of the day it was almost unbearable. I wasn’t sure what exactly to do about it, besides stretch and rest and elevate, but I did know that if I could get a pair of Superfeet insoles I would feel a whole lot better. I had been walking on worn-out soft soles without arch support for too long and my feet ached for support. Mama Bear had picked some up for me, but I was going to have to hike 3 more long days before receiving them. But then, in the hiker box in Agua Dulce, there they were. A pair of green Superfeet insoles that perfectly fit my shoes. Could it be that the trail was more magical than we thought?

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Other small improvements also had us feeling great today. I finally got more allergy medicine, we were once again grateful for our sun umbrellas as we hiked through an incredibly hot, completely exposed section of trail, and, contrary to peoples’ earlier reports, a water source that was supposed to be dry was flowing great and we were treated to unlimited ice cold water right at the hottest point of our day.

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But all the magic culminated in this evening’s find. This morning in town we made the plan to try and hike a full 26 miles to get to a famous trail angel’s house in time to camp. The Anderson’s host hikers at their “Casa de Luna” and we had heard this was a stop not to be missed. It was a long, hot, challenging day of hiking, with more elevation gain than we had bargained for, but we made it to our intersection before 8pm. Now all we had to do was get to their house…2 more miles off trail. We contemplated just camping there and giving up the idea of more trail magic, but thought first to stick out our thumbs, and lo and behold, the first truck to drive by stopped and drove us all the way to this wonderful home. Upon arrival we received welcoming smiles from about 20 happy hikers, our own Hawaiian shirts to wear the rest of the night, and yes, you guessed it, huge plates of food with ice cold soda. Oh, and showers and a soft, private place to set up our tent. We couldn’t have been more pleased if the President himself had been here to greet us.

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We know that there will continue to be plenty of challenging moments and days on trail, but we look forward to more opportunities to see the trail as a magical place, ready to meet our needs when we need it most.

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