May 30, 2015
Casa de Luna (478.6) to Sawmill Campground (498.5)
4.7 PCT miles today, 12.5 Alternate (Powerhouse fire closure) miles today
511.5 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown
Today was completely unlike all our other days on trail so far. There are a few places on the PCT where the trail is officially closed, either due to habitat protection (as in the case of the Endangered Species Detour) or because of a fire (like today’s Powerhouse Fire Closure). These closures have people coming up with all sorts of excuses to skip a few (or a lot) of miles, but we have decided to make every effort to walk continuous footsteps from Mexico to Canada, and to walk every open mile of PCT that we can. This can lead to some long and interesting days.
We woke up this morning to big, fluffy pancakes and fresh coffee. Terrie Anderson knows how to trail angel. We took our time getting ready and hitched a ride back to where we left the trail by about 10am. From that point, mile 478.6, the trail is closed for about 15.2 miles, so we were forced to walk the road for about 11 miles. The road walk was horrible. I was convinced that Pickles had snuck rocks into my pack, it felt so unusually heavy. There was no shade and very little in the way of views…and the temperature rose into the high 80’s as the morning went on. We were quite miserable when we got 7 miles in, so we stopped at Lake Hughes’ town drinking hole, Lucky’s, because we heard a rumor that there was a chili cook-off going on. We got there around noon, just as the day was reaching its hottest point, and saw a couple of other hikers already waiting at the bar, cold beers in hand. They told us that the FREE chili wouldn’t be available for over another hour, but there were drink specials, air conditioning, and a great juke box, so we hid our packs in a corner, and pulled ourselves up to the bar.
It turned out to be a regular party at Lucky’s today. As chili-time got closer, more and more hikers strolled in, most having hitched from Casa de Luna or Hikertown, and it seemed the whole town of Lake Hughes showed up too. A live band played music outside under a tent, and when the man in charge said go, we all began filling our bowls with endless amounts of 14 different chili options. There were also toppings and cornbread available! The more us hikers are and drank the happier we got. We were dancing, socializing, and waiting out the heat in style. Pickles and I both knew we still had about 14 miles to hike, but we had decided that tonight would just be a late one, and we forced ourselves to stick around until almost 4, at which point we knew we finally had to move on.
The next 4 road miles were simply terrible, and nothing can describe our relief when we got to the little shaded side trail that would take us back to the PCT. We hiked well into the evening, listening to some music and watching the sun set to help pass the time. It felt weird to get to camp after dark, and didn’t allow us our normal at-camp routine, but at least we had dodged a good amount of the heat, and we wouldn’t have missed our midday party at Lucky’s with our new hiker friends for any amount of tent time.