In the middle of the night we woke up in the clouds. The condensation was horrible and everything was drenched. Today would be the first day that we would be compelled to set up our tent at lunch so that it could dry out.
Moving soon after sunrise, the clouds had settled a bit lower in the valley, which made for some surreal hiking as we descended through them. I kept picturing every cheesy horror movie scenario, as we could only see the tread in front of us, nothing to either side and hearing only the occasional bird call.
Queue the flying dinosaurs.
The clouds lay thick in the valley, but occasionally a break would spotlight the rock formations that we would be walking towards this morning.
By late morning we had reached a side trail that took hikers to the KOA campground in Acton. Most hikers stopped there, but we would continue north.
Honestly, the next several hours were glorious, as it was the first time in the last six weeks we were truly alone on the trail. We did not see another hiker until we got to Agua Dulce, our destination.
But first, we crossed under a highway and popped into the back side of Vasquez Rocks County Park. A stretch that should have taken us 30 minutes took us 90. Our jaws were on the ground, surrounded by fantastic rock formations created by uplifting.
It’s no wonder that it’s a popular place to film movies and TV shows.
Once we finally made it through the park, it was a short road walk into Agua Dulce. Agua Dulce is one of only three towns where the PCT actually passes through. We had our taste buds set on Mexican food and margaritas. Which we got.
We were still trying to figure out where to sleep. There weren’t any motels in town, so we needed to figure out where to stealth camp. We didn’t want to run afoul of the law, so we knew we would have to get outside town limits. A bit of research showed no specific regulations forbidding it amongst the rocks, so we headed that way.
But we barely made it into the parking lot when a lady approached, asking if we were hikers. Turns out she had given a hiker a ride to the rocks and his cell phone fell out in the bed of her truck, which she didn’t discover until she got home 30 minutes later. She was sincerely worried about the young man.
We didn’t know who he was or whether we would run across him, so she arranged with a local store to hold it. Once that was secure, I put the word out on social media on where he could find it if he was still in the area.
Then she gave us a ride to the rocks, where we found a nice spot to set up in the dark.
Post-script: Overnight, the hiker got word about his phone and posted a thanks on Facebook. We crossed paths with him a few days later and found out that one of the other Yama Mountain Gear sponsored hikers, Cat Beckers, was the one that notified him. We were jealous, because Cat is the only other Yama hiker that we’ve yet to meet in person. Check out her blog here. She’s quite an interesting person.
Day 40 – 18 / 454
An early morning alarm on a cloudy, cool morning, but we were amongst the rocks. Today was going to be an easy day – breakfast at the town café, resupply at the grocery store, lunch at the café, then head out.
Which is what we did.
It was 24 miles to our next stop, which is too far for us to push a full day, much less half, so we aimed for a solid half-day hike fueled by town food.
Weighed down by lunch and resupply, we started a long climb out of the valley. It was windy and cool, perfect conditions for me to just grind out the miles. Jen doesn’t like the climbs so much, but she puts her nose to the grindstone and gets it done. That meant a fast descent to camp, which happened to be next to a road. With Friday night Memorial Day Weekend traffic.
That’s what earplugs are for.
But not before – “I bet you never thought when I’d say that I’d give you the world that it included sleeping in a ravine next to a highway”.
Day 41 – 11 / 465
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