Sitting here at the Saufley’s house it’s easy to forget that you’re hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. So easy, that people sometimes stay here for weeks. The Saufley’s are the hosts of Hiker Heaven. The greatest trail stop so far and likely the greatest on the whole trip. This place is absolutely incredible. As hosts, Jeff and L-Rod have opened their house to almost two thousand strangers in the past few years. And no one is treated as anything but kings and queens.
The back yard, center of activity for Agua Dulce, is abuzz with hikers. We sleep in the guest house (a full sized trailer home), an RV, large camping tents, the lawn, around the fire ring, down by the corral or on one of the 24 cots in one of the six large catering tents. There is TV, music, computers, books, magazines, a kitchen, bathrooms, the works. We get sucked in. Since it’s been Memorial Day weekend, they’ve also been feeding about 40 of us a night.
Right now I’m on my second zero. I’m waiting for the mail delivery to come in as my battery resupply package is not here. If it doesn’t arrive, I’ll probably borrow the car (“Big Red”) and head back to LA to purchase the thrity or so lithium batteries my GPS needs. Yesterday’s zero was an LA day already. I drove seven of us around to Adventure 16, REI, Office Depot and the supermarket in Northridge. Boy was I glad to get through that ordeal. A hiker already totaled one of the Saufley cars this year. We all are so greatful for the Saufley’s. Everyone uses this as a base for figuring out the next major section. The Sierra Nevada requires extras like bear cans, ice axes, warmer clothes and other things that people purchasing and sending from here. I have a new pair of shoes, bug goop, maps, zinc and other stuff being sent from here and will call in a few days for my parents to send my bear can filled with food and my ice axe and crampons. I’ve also ordered a pair of Dirty Girl Gaiters and will hopefully arrive when I get to Kennedy Meadows.
As I said, it’s easy to forget that we’re actually hiking when we’re here. My past week was superb though. I hiked from Wrightwood across the rest of the San Gabrial Mountains. It was about 90 miles and took five days. Through that time I was between packs, hiking alone and sharing the trail with only two other hikers (Snail and Rob). It was really great being out with so few others and then catching up with everyone in Agua Dulce. I had a great short first day where I topped out on Baden Powell and then camped alone high up on the ridge. My second, third and fourth days were 20 miles but they were a breeze. I hiked my own pace, breaked when I felt like, even slept in a few days. It was SO great. I met more people because I could stop and talk to them instead of pushing on to get miles. Plus, since I was on a high ridge above LA most of the week, my radio had good reception. I listened to a lot of NPR and it was really, really enjoyable. Stimulating thoughts with stimulating steps.
I met some cool old dudes while hanging out at the picnic area with Snail. They hooked us up with some great trail magic. I also met a burned out plumber with some great advice about life. We sat and talked next to a pathetic Forest Service bathroom. And right before Agua Dulce at the Vasquez Rocks formation (which looks like it belongs in Southwest Utah) a great family gave Snail and I cold drinks, shade and food.
If I don’t head out this afternoon, I’ll leave tomorrow morning. Ahead I’m looking at a 14 mile road walk, the Mojave, a long walk along the LA aqueduct and the increasing heat. But not before I get to Casa De Luna, another trail angel house (and trail party central, I hear).