Days 12 & 13: Miles 96.5 – 114.8 (Ranchita, CA)

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re highly motivated.

Miles 96.5 – 101.4

I awakened from my slumber just before sunrise. There was a cold bite in the air. Everything around me felt cold and damp. The walls of my tent were saturated with rain from the night before. On top of my backpack lay all my wet clothes from the day before. I felt uncomfortable; the thought of a dry, warm place seemed really nice.

Rachael, Bird and I did not waste any time getting packed up and back on trail. We knew we were only a handful of miles away from a warm shelter.

Our plan was to jet down the trail toward the Ranchita Bodega as quick as possible. We were only 4.9 miles away from the dirt parking lot where we would later call for a ride. The trail was wet from the rain that fell throughout the night. Rain drops from the plants that lined the trail quickly transferred to our clothing as we jetted down the path.

The three of us were on hot pursuit. We crushed the first three miles in just under an hour; our goal was to be at the parking lot in another thirty minutes. In a close formation, we continued down the path – still collecting rain drops.

We were a mile from our goal location when we approached a very important mile marker and a significant trail achievement. As we rounded a corner… on the ground, written in small rocks was the number “100.” We had just hit the 100 mile marker for the Pacific Crest Trail!

100 Miles!!

Over the past week and a half, I’ve heard the same trail fact repeated time and time again. One-third of all hikers that attempt this journey will drop out before they hit the 100 miles. I am now part of a smaller group of people who make it this far. I’m truly proud of how well all three of us have adapted to the trail life.

We rounded the last corner of the trail leading into the day use area and where we would meet our ride into the Ranchita Bodega. As we approached, we could see the spring where people could refill their water bottles. Next to the stream was a styrofoam cooler filled with fresh bananas and oranges. Our first trail magic!! Even though I knew we were minutes from the bodega, I couldn’t help myself from enjoying some fresh fruit.

Our first trail magic. 😁

Ranchita Bodega

It was about 9:30 a.m. when we sent the text request for a ride to the Ranchita Bodega. Within a few minutes, a little beat-up SUV showed up at our location. The driver, Kim introduced herself and let us know she would be our host for the day.

Kim goes by the trail name “Wonder Woman.” Wonder Woman suits her very well as she wears many hats at the Bodega. She is the cashier, the chauffeur, the concierge, and the accommodations specialist. From the time we arrived at the bodega, to the ride back to the trail, Wonder Woman flew around making sure all us hikers were well taken care of.

The accommodations at the Ranchita Bodega are perfect for hikers. Everything is perfectly imperfect in a way that gives it a unique charm that suits hikers just right. It’s a work in progress for sure, but you can see the passion being put into this project and the care these wonderful trail angels have for the hikers.

Ranchita Bodega

The bodega has multiple housing options and includes the use of a communal house where people can hang out, watch TV, and even cook a meal in the fully stocked kitchen.

I made dinner for Rachael, Bird, and me. “Gas Station Spaghetti” is what I called it. The bodega had a few ingredients to offer that I turned into a delicious meal. Who would have thought hot links would taste so good with a jar of marinara?

From Left to Right: Bird, Packrat, Smiley, Kayla, Big Dill

Miles 101.4 – 114.8

We woke up at the crack of dawn, ready for another day of hiking. It was nice getting to sleep on an actual bed and not in a rain-soaked tent. And, thanks to the Ranchita Bodega for having laundry facilities, we had dry clothes and gear. Yes, our spirits were high!

Wonder Woman drove us back out the parking lot where she had first picked us up. Rachael, Bird, and I set off yet again on trail, hoping to squeeze in at least 12 miles.

The three of us set off on trail, super stoked for the day! Today, we were heading toward Eagle Rock, a major highlight along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Our hike was absolutely glorious. We spend a good part of our morning hiking through a gorgeous meadow. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and our hike reminded me a lot of the green hills of Ireland or Scotland. It was a fitting hike with fitting scenery for the day.

South of Eagle Rock

Five miles into our day, we made it to Eagle Rock. As an avid follower of previous years hikers, I’ve seen pictures of Eagle Rock hundreds of times. Well… it did not disappoint! I’m amazed how alike this rock structure has to an eagle with its wings spread out. The three of us took tons of pictures. With the help of a day hikers, we also scored some group photos with the three of us. Eagle Rock is definitely worth a day hike if you’re even in the area.

Eagle Rock

Rachael read that we could order food from Punker’s Cafe in Warner Springs and have delivered to us. So, without hesitation, we all put an order in with an estimated ETA of one hour. No problem, three miles in… one hour!?! I guess hikers will do anything for a delicious hamburger.

With an ambitious goal ahead of us, we set off from Eagle Rock, heading into Warner Springs. It was a beautiful hike, full of day hikers heading in the direction we just left. I’m sure we looked like a pack of crazed persons as we zoomed past everyone we came in contact with.

We soon make it to the Warner Springs recreation center where we soon met our lunch delivery. The Warner Springs Rec Center is an amazingly well managed center that has gone above and beyond in support of the hiker community. They have a huge area with picnic tables, access to power, bucket showers, bucket laundry, and full bathrooms. The center also sells sodas, snacks, and some hikers meals for those a bit short on food.

I’m really learning to appreciate these small community stops along the trail where citizens have become part of the trail family. It really warms the heart knowing there is such a level of support cheering us on.

Rachael and I met Jessica, aka Burrito Lady, who dropped off our lunch at the rec center. She works at Punker’s Cafe and is another wonderful human and part of the PCT family. Thank you, Burrito Lady. Our lunch was awesome and much needed.

Bacon Cheese Burger from Punky’s Cafe

After a much-needed rest, we headed back to the trail for a few more miles. The trail continued across another meadow for a few miles before ending at forested area. We hiked a couple more miles into a forest full of oak trees that followed a river.

We decided to setup camp at mile marker 114.8. We camped that night under three gigantic okay trees and listened to the river navigate its way down the basin. We also were very pleased to share our campsite with our new friend, “Big Dill.”

Camp: Mile Marker 114.8

The day was filled with killer adventures, we met some truly amazing people, and the weather was phenomenal. This journey continues to get better by the day. I very much look forward to sharing it with you.

Cheers, Smiley

One Step at a Time

“The Crew” at Eagle Rock

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Comments 4

  • Bob : Mar 20th

    Great job writing!
    I can never do this, but your blog is the next best thing!

    Reply
  • Chris : Mar 21st

    “This journey continues to get better by the day.” So do your posts! Congrats on passing 100 miles!

    Reply
  • Jeff Z : Mar 21st

    Great job Smiley!! One step at a time

    Reply
  • Ranchita BODEGA : Mar 23rd

    Love that phrase. “Perfectly imperfect” Everything is a work in progress. Thank you for the support, the article, and your service.
    – Kemi &Mike

    Reply

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