Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 30, Casa de Luna

Daily mileage: 20
Mile 460-480

A quick word about cowboy camping. I've been cowboy camping for years, only I had no idea that's what it was called. According to PCT hikers cowboy camping is when you sleep out in the open with no tent. I am a huge fan of this. In fact of the 20 days I have been out here I have only set up my tent twice. One at kickoff when it was pouring and the night after scissors crossing when I thought it was going to rain. You really would think that someone from the bay area would know simple fog when they see it. Either way cowboy camping is great and you only need to find a very small spot for a sleeping bag rather than the large spot a tent may need. Now the way we have been hiking is to hike when it is coolest. Early start at about 5:15, hike until a good shady spot around 1 or 2. Which is usually about 16-18 miles already and then siesta until 5:30. So eat your big meal, nap and just hang out. Then any mileage after that is almost bonus, but we usually just hike for 2 hours and sleep wherever we stop.

So we had camped on the trail as we often do but for the first time ever we had people stumble over us, first around 9pm and then at 3:30 am, that one was a bit of a shocker.
Waking up we finished climbing and after spending a gorgeous breakfast on the top we started on down. We had all thought how cool it was that the trail actually went to the top since the PCT seems to avoid summits like the plague only to discover it wasn't the PCT. Oops.

And down we contoured. The pace was a little fast for me so I ended up wandering down the manzanita (and poison oak) forest happily singing to myself only to rediscover everyone at the Anderson's Oasis water cache. Only water when we got there but plenty of decorations and lawn chairs to keep us entertained.

Now even though we had just been to town and stayed with the amazing Saufleys we were planning another stop. There is another house of trail angels just 24 miles farther, the Anderson's. Now they are pretty much the opposite of the Saufleys. Nicknamed hippie daycare it's known as a vortex on the trail and has taco salad made nightly. Being the food motivated folks we are we figured it was worth visiting. Well everything aligned for us to somehow hit the road by 12:15, great grade, light breeze who knows but 18.5 miles by 12:15 was pretty ridiculous and amazing all in one. A great start to a fantastic day.

We stood around hoping to hitch while caveman wandered over to the ranger station and minutes later Joe Anderson popped up with a few other hikers and gave us a ride to his house, Casa de Luna. Lots of folks hanging around, mandatory Hawaiian shirts were put on, cold things from the cooler were grabbed and spots on the vortex couch were taken. It was amazing.

(left to right: Cajun, gray jay, squirrel, tank)

Managed to move enough to walk down to the local store for chips and salsa and then it was back to hours on the vortex couch.

Thank you gray jay, tank, and caveman for possibly one of the most amazing and melodramatic games of spades ever. I'm pretty sure everyone within a 5 mile radius now knows my name.
Music, cold drinks, and hours of people watching followed by taco salad. So good.
Now the Anderson's have a reputation for being hard to leave but no one really wanted a whole zero right after the Saufleys. An 8 hour siesta was pretty ridiculous even for our group. Plus the weather was saying increasing temperatures, we had a 20 plus stretch with no water coming up and we had a climb first thing out of the Andersons. The party was clearly not ending, so around 9:30 we started begging for a ride. It took awhile and a lot of convincing but we eventually were on our way. (With only one detour back because I am a genius and apparently want to lose all of my belongings). Terrie Anderson is an amazing woman and regardless of what you have heard about the atmosphere I think most will have a blast and it is a stop not worth missing.
So now at was 10 at night and with just a few miles to the top we set out on a fantastic night hike. No lights, just the glowing rocks and the trail like a white sandy beacon. Camped right on top, happy as can be. Although up way past all of our bedtimes :)
Yet another best day ever.

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