Today was a fun day. I got an early start again after camping without the tarp so I can watch the stars. I’m doing that again tonight and probably every night not forecast for rain. As I was stirring at about 4 am I noticed another light about 30 ft away from me. Apparently I had camped at a spot that already had a camper last night and didn’t even know it. I never saw him, he left about ten minutes before I did, but I’m pretty sure it was John from Arizona. I met him that morning and he can book. I’m certain that I’ll never see him again. [Post hike: Yes, it was John – he was known as Robocop and has apparently done the PCT several times. He normally does 40 mile days. I heard he injured himself before the Sierras and got off trail.]
The morning was warm but not unbearable. It went through very large Meadows where some cows were grazing and also San Ysidro creek, which was quite nice. There was a rock outcropping called Eagle Rock, which I did not stop for. [Post hike: – I wish I had, the rock formation looks like an eagle flying out of the ground. Next time, I’ll be sure to stop for more of these things that are close by. I was jealous of other hikers after seeing their pictures.] All this led me to Warner Springs where my first mail resupply was waiting.
I got there about 12:30 after a 16 mile morning. There is a community resources center just off the trail with a small store, showers, and laundry. They will even shuttle you a mile to the post office. Well as luck would have it, they closed for the season yesterday. And their idea of laundry or shower was using a bucket. The water was still on so I had a go at laundering my disgusting white shirt and khaki pants. The pants came out fair. It the shirt still isn’t white and probably never will be ever again. A quickie bucket bath and I’m ready for relaxing.
Someone was leaving the parking lot when I got there so I was able to get a ride to the post office and back, but did not have time to stop at the diner. As I was repacking my food bags, I noticed that if you left any food unattended for five seconds, that it would be attacked by crows. They got a bag of trail mix and one granola bar. No big loss as I have one or two days too much food.
I was able to charge my cell phone and headlamp. I’ve been hiking in the dark enough that it was getting dangerously low on power. I have started carrying spare batteries in my pocket when night hiking so I can make a quick swap of needed. I have a small squeeze light attached to the pack straps so I can see to change the batteries.
I started eating as much of my food as possible because I had too much and didn’t go to the diner. It’s hard to eat trail food when you know a diner is one mile away.
A thermometer on one of the buildings read 102 but I don’t think it’s accurate. The temperature is still supposed to go up each day peaking on Saturday. All of San Diego county is under a heatwave alert Friday thru Sunday. They advise not being outside. I’ll have to keep playing my off hour hiking strategy to beat the heat.
I mingled with a large group of hikers at the community center. This is the first time I have seen more than one or two other hikers. I must be slowly catching the bubble. There are about a dozen hikers here. One of them referred to me as “Dirty Gil” in an offhand comment and it seemed to amuse the other hikers. I think I have been transitioned from Gilligan to Dirty Gil. It may not be flattering, but at least it’s unique. [Post hike: Yes, indeed, the name Dirty Gil stuck and I stopped fighting it once I got to Kennedy Meadows and wrote it on my hat to make it official.]
A couple from Oregon said that a friend texted them about a beer festival at a town a few days away. Looking at the calendar, I just might be able to make it. Challenge accepted.
I left the center at 6 PM and hiked nearly four hours to 10 PM. The trail exited town across more Meadows then went up a canyon that had an actual flowing creek. Imagine that. I climbed up to the top of the ridge to be in cool air tonight and to not have to burn up all that energy first thing in the morning. I hope I am able to find a shade tree tomorrow about noon or its going to be another hot one. I saw about a third of the hikers from the center pass me while I was camping.