Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 23 (6/9) Hiker Heaven - The Saufley's

Today was set to be a perfect day. 18 miles to town where I would take the rest of the day off. With that in mind, I got a late start, behind Positive ID but ahead of King Toot and Orbit. Those two passed me shortly into the hike through as I was struggling with the downhill sections and had to show down a bit. At mile 6 we found out that you could order pizza to be delivered at the next road crossing in 4 miles. We were tempted, but that lack of a cell signal ended those dreams. At the highway I lot on going, still chasing Positive ID, while the others went down to the gas station for lunch.

Across the highway was one of the oddest moments on the trail, as I came up to a densely wooded area, with a stream running down the middle. This 200 feet of forest was extremely humid and muggy, but once on the other side the hot and dry desert conditions resumed. Very strange. I also got to see the Golden Spike monument for the PCT, where they finished the last section of trail in the early 90's. That was after decades of hard work, and all of us today are blessed to have things as easy as they are with the full continuous trail.

Continuing on, I climbed a series of hills before dropping down to go under the highway and into Vasquez Rocks. This was an awesome area where a river had carved away at the rocks, leaving crazy formations behind. It reminded me of Starved Rick park back home, except with dessert vegetation. I filled up on a final liter of water from the horse spigot (my definition of drinkable water had changed drastically out here) and then pushed on into town.

The PCT actually goes straight up the main street, so I walked up past the grocery store and cafe, and pizza place, all with signs welcoming hikers. Cool! My destination was a mile west on a side street - the home of the Saufleys. This couple does an amazing job of hosting hikers in their home and it is a definite stop on the trail. As I was heading that way, a man pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride there. Well, since these were off-trail miles anyway, I agreed. His name was Ken, and he was volunteering at the Saufley's to help out with all the hikers.

The Saufley's home truly deserves the name Hiker Heaven. They have racks set up in the garage for boxes hikers mail to themselves, and when you walk in you are handed a mesh bag for dirty laundry, or more appropriately, that toxic waste we've all been wearing on the trail. They have two washers, one for the first run to get rid of the worst dirt, then a second to actually clean the clothes. They also supply everyone with loaner clothes so that everything can be washed at once. Next, you are shown to the shower, where I needed two rounds of scrubbing to get most, but not all, of the dirt off. Then its off to the backyard to grab a cot and meet the other hikers. The setup out there is something else. There are five white pavilion tents each with five cots, then marsh tents with more cots, then two trailers with rooms for couples. All said and done they can host FIFTY hikers at a time.

As this is a but behind the pack, there were only about two dozen hikers, and they weren't enforcing the normal two night limit. There were a ton of awesome people, including Phil who I first met months ago at Ned's snow course at Echo Lake. Also present was a guy named No-Pain who has hiked the Appalachian Trail 8 times, the Continental Divide Trail at least once, and this is his third troop on the Pacific Crest Trail. He was really interesting to talk to, and he said he really enjoys the PCT for the brutality of it. Of course, he also refers to it as 'this bitch' which makes his every comment sound hilarious.

The fact that the Saufley's are a mile out of town clearly wasn't going to deter me from heading back to the store for some hard-earned treats. Fortunately, there is a fleet of a dozen loaner bikes for just that purpose. I went down and picked up some iced tea, apples, oreos, and a half gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream. None of those lasted the night, and I proudly displayed my empty ice cream carton just two hours later. Dairy craving satisfied.

In the hiker lounge the tv was playing one of the PCT videos, Wizards the PCT, and it was awesome top nw able to look ahead to see what is coming. Makes you want to get up and keep walking right away! We all chilled and hung out around the fire for hours, before finally things died down around 1am. So much for an earthly exit tomorrow. Hikers talk about this place as a vortex that sucks you in and I can totally see how that happens now that I've spent a few hours here. Goal for tomorrow: get back on the trail!

Miles Today: 18
Trip Mileage: 454

1 comment:

  1. what is YOUR nickname on the trail?? I'm guessing if you didn't have it already, you got one after eating that half gallon of ice cream.