Day 18 – the unexpected 

April 21, 2016

Mission Creek Stonehouse to Arrastre Trail Camp (mile 256.2)

Miles: enough (mission creek fire road + burns canyon rd + FS 2N01) + .8 PCT mile = 12 hours of adventure

We woke up inside the stonehouse. We were sheltered from the wind but neither of us slept well thinking each creak or crack of the wood was someone coming in.

We gathered our belongings and enjoyed the luxury of having a picnic table to house our things while packing our backpacks.

We set out around 7 am. The heat was already intense with no wind but it was still early. We walked about 4 miles to a junction. We were using a route Andy devised from suggestions from others on the PCT Facebook page in addition to google maps. The road we wanted to take had 3 No Trespassing signs. We hesitantly took it anyway.

We walked about a quarter of a mile and saw more No Trespassing signs. At this point we both got nervous. Google maps is great at showing roads but does not distinguish between private property and public land.

Nervously we continued walking. Laurie thought that if she kept her head down and couldn’t see anyone- that meant they couldn’t see her. Obviously this logic doesn’t make sense but it felt better to believe it is so.

As we neared highway 62, the road approached a house. We got within a 100 yards of the house when 3 dogs started barking and running towards us. That was enough to make us quickly turn around and speed walk in the direction we had come.

“Well that won’t work. I guess we try plan B.”

We found a spot of shade and sat down to come up with plan B.

We walked the longer road out to the highway to hitch to Pioneertown. On Hwy 62 Andy was making a bigger sign when Laurie excitingly said “we got one!”

Our first hitchhiking success story! It took less than 5 minutes to get a ride 20 miles up the highway. Andrew dropped us off at a gas station and as we discussed where to stand next to hitch a guy approached and asked us where we were going. He offered to give us a ride.

David dropped us off at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown – a famous live music venue. We searched for a water spigot since this was the last form of civilization for who knew how long before we met up with PCT.

An employee let us use the faucet to get water while another employee named Jason came up and introduced himself. He hopes to hike the PCT in the next few years. He knew the exact road we were planning on hiking, which again reassured Laurie.

After more conversation he offered to drive us to his house for extra water and then up the road past some sketchy house with agressive dogs.

We happily took him up in his offer.

The unexpected kindness and generosity of people continues to leave us in awe.

About 5 miles up the road we saw another hiker. We can spot hiker trash from a distance now.

Jason dropped us off and we continued on together- 3 dirty and stinky hikers walking through the desert. Shortly after we ran into Florent- a Swiss hiker we met at Ziggy and the Bear’s enjoying a break in the shade. It was only 11 am and thanks to 3 generous motorists we had made it to a point that would have taken 20 unpleasant hours to walk.

We hiked on as a family of 4- Silver (Andy), Saver (Laurie), Nemo (Dave) and Tony Two Sole (Florent).

We walked through a magical forest of Joshua trees. Laurie had never seen a Joshua tree and was giddy with excitement.

We took frequent breaks in the shade to rest our feet and traded stories from the last few days and our experiences on and before the trail. It was nice getting to know other hikers beyond superficial small talk. Hiking with people for 8 hours offers a great opportunity to get to know one another.

Dave’s feet were hurting badly from three back to back 25 mile days. Today Andy’s left foot started bothering him too. His tight calf muscles and ligaments are probably the source of his discomfort.

During breaks, Laurie massaged Andy’s leg and he stretched his calf muscles frequently. We are hoping continued stretching and massaging resolve his discomfort.

We appreciate that when one of us is hurting so far the other has been in good spirits and able to help out. It is nice to be undertaking this adventure as a team!

Tony two-sole had a paper map but had no idea about mileage. Andy became the guide. We were using google maps offline so we could follow our blue dot on the fire road but really had no clue about distance. Both Nemo and Tony were low on water and greatly appreciated the extra jug that Andy was carrying. (Thanks again Jason!)

Although apprehensive at first, Laurie found it reassuring to know that Andy we the most prepared. He had researched more and played it safer by carrying more water to ensure our success.

Much to all our surprise, quite a few off road vehicles passed us going in both directions. This also put Laurie at ease.

As the road climbed the Joshua trees gave way to pine trees. We passed some old mines (apparently gold has been found in this area) before we turned onto forest service road 2N01 that would take us to the PCT.

Eventually, after what felt like forever, we intersected our trail. We hiked 0.8 miles to a designated camp only to find 2 picnic tables but no water. This camp is supposed to be a reliable water source but the river is dry and so too the faucet.

Tony two soles was hiking ahead of us and wasn’t at camp when we arrived. We figured he must have hiked on to find water. After about 10 minutes he approached hiking southbound towards us, his bottles full of water for everyone. Thanks Tony two soles!

We set up camp, made dinner and shared our dinners and bars with the others. We had food for another 2 days but because we left Los Angeles with leftovers and our successful hitching- we are once again ahead of schedule.

It felt good to be back on the PCT. It was like seeing an old friend- predictable and familiar.

We were pleasantly surprised by the unexpected ease of hitchhiking, the reassurance of having extra water, the unexpected companionship of Dave and Florent and lastly the unwelcomed and unexpected pain in Andy’s calf and ankle.

It is chilly tonight. We are camped at 7608 ft -a nice change from the hot and sticky desert. Tomorrow we have a 10 mile hike to Highway 18, where Andy’s friend is graciously hosting us for the night in Big Bear.

Tonight we are grateful for sufficient water and kind people.

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