Mile 100 and the Best Nero of All Time
Making the Decision to Nero
Sitting at the water cache and mile 91.2, I knew I had a decision to make. Warner Springs was still 18 miles away but I knew that I could push myself and make it there the next day. But it would only be my second day back on trail after two zero days to heal my ankle. I also knew that it was going to be 85 degrees and that the section would have little if any shade.
Everyone around me was planning on just carrying on into Warner Springs but starting really early in the morning to beat the heat. After a chat with my mom, I made my decision to take a nero or a near-zero to a place called Mountain Valley Retreat that was about a mile and a half off trail. I called the owner, a wonderful lady named Chery, and made a reservation. I really didn’t know what to expect.
The ten-mile hike on day ten was not insignificant. Most important was a milestone I had been waiting for for a long time. Mile 100. Before my trek I had told myself that if I could make it to mile 100, I could make it all the way. The first 100 would act as a break-in period for my mind, gear, and body. Standing there and mile 100, I felt no desire to quit. I felt elated.
Heading to Mountain Valley Retreat
From there it was an easy stroll to Barrel Springs, where Chery was around to pick me up and drive me to Mountain Valley Retreat, her home and yoga retreat that caters heavily to PCT hikers.
A fellow thru-hiker and I were given a tour of the place, seeing the float pool, laundry facilities, showers, bunkhouse, kitchenette, and basically every amenity a thru-hiker could want.
Once laundry was in, I immediately returned to one of the many hammocks that dot the large, fenced-in property. What an oasis! After over an hour in the hammock and a ice cold soda from the fridge, it was time for Epsom salt soaks, ice cream, and beer.
Throughout the day, more hikers began to show up. I was surprised when Groot showed up. He was even more surprised when I told him he was featured on PCT People Project on Instagram.
Dinner was phenomenal. An amazing salad, sausage and bean stew, and toasted bread. I was so hungry the only thing I got a picture of was the salad (complete with my hiking buddy, the hedgehog.) They even had dessert for us. Homemade chia pudding.
The festivities weren’t done for the evening, though. Chery took some of us over to her neighbor who owned a herd of sheep and several horses. They had a baby sheep that had been born the day before.
By the time we got back the the retreat, we were all ready to pass out. I slept in their hostel-style bunk room on a soft bed with clean sheets. What a wonderful feeling.
Woke up up to a nosebleed but wasn’t too upset by this after I was sitting with my feet in a warm Epsom salt bath and cup of hot tea in my hands. I had considered leaving early that morning and just walking the mile and a half road back to the trail. Breakfast, however, was a call I couldn’t ignore.
I wasn’t disappointed. We had toast with avocado and fried eggs with a fruit salad on the side. Plus good coffee, a hard find on the trail. Soon, though, it was time to head back to the trail.
Chery drove four of us back to Barrel Springs and hugged us all goodbye. Upon reaching the trail we found a cooler full of trail magic. My new friend Diceman and I had a second breakfast of doughnuts and cold drinks.
Mountain Valley Retreat was absolutely fantastic. I could not recommend this place enough.
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