Rainy Day Nachos

Day 24

There was frost on my tent when I got up. It was cold so I had a bar as I packed, saving my oats for later. After I took down my tent, I helped Martina with her stakes. My GoreTex outer mitts kept my gloves dry and it saved her hands from getting cold. Once I got on trail I came across lovely ice-coated pines.

Late in the morning, Karin and I stopped in a burn area to dry my tent fly and her sleeping bag. Clouds intermittently blocked the sun, but the chilly wind dried our gear in no time. Karin made peppermint tea and we chatted with a passing couple from Vancouver WA. Martina texted that she lost a trekking pole (it was stowed on her pack) and had backtracked to search for it.

At a seasonal stream, where a creative spout emerged from holes punched into a bucket, Martina caught up to Karin and I. Jared, the son of a trail angel, picked up new poles that she ordered from REI; she will get them tomorrow night when we arrive in Agua Dulce.

The afternoon went quickly. I started Skin Game, a Dresden Files audiobook. The trail descended into a valley, rose over 1,000 feet, and descended once again. Near the road to Green Valley, I got water from a fire station spigot. After dinner and bedtime chores, I sewed up a rip in my lower pant leg.

Day 25

I woke from a restorative sleep to the patter of rain on my tent. All was dry inside other than the underside of my Thermarest. While I ate my chocolate PB oatmeal, I packed critical gear into dry sacks or Ziplock bags, then into the trash compactor bag that lined the lower portion of my pack. Protected by my rain jacket, I took down my tent, rolling it, my Thermarest, and ground cloth into a giant burrito which I strapped on top of my pack.

It was a wet day. At one point, the rain let up for 30-45 minutes and I dug a cat-hole. For the first 3/4 of the day, the conditions were a great motivator to move through our longest day yet, 23.7 miles. I listened to my audiobook and my damp pants, socks, and gloves retained enough heat to keep those areas comfortable. Karin was always slightly behind or ahead of me.

Rounding the corner to ascend the last ridge before town, I hit a strong, rainy wind and became chilled. Then came a mile or so of tall, rain soaked grasses that utterly soaked my pants, the excess running into my shoes and socks. My hands & feet were uncomfortably cold and my body wanted to stiffen up, which made my joints ache on the downhill. It was among my colder moments so I practiced encouraging thoughts and promised Mexican food to come.

Eventually the wind lessened and the trail descended into a valley. The sun even came out and I began to dry a little. Karin & I chatted about the ordeal. Two miles later we were walking through the outskirts of Agua Dulce and 1.7 miles after that we were sitting down to dinner, where I ate a ton of chips & salsa followed by a large plate of nachos. Martina joined us shortly after our entrees arrived.

The trail angel who had Martina’s new poles let us stay in their 30 foot RV. We were also given access to a laundry room and shower. I am continually astounded by the kindness and generosity of people along this trail!

Day 26

We hoped to reunite with Debbie & Parker in Agua Dulce. Unfortunately, we pushed hard and they took a zero day due to the rain so we missed one another. Then Parker texted the news that he is getting off trail because his heart is not in it. He is taking an Amtrak train back home, which sounds fun! I am sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye to either him or Serendipity in person. Debbie is getting off trail for a wedding, but plans to return.

Our day started slow. We lounged around the RV, packing leisurely. While Martina and Karin shopped at the 2 Foot Adventures trailer, I got on trail. Immediately I was in a neat area called Vasquez Rocks, where a series of angled rocks reminded me of the Flatirons in Boulder. Then a long tunnel took me under the highway. I was excited to see colorful pink blossoms on a variety of cactus which were full of buds a couple weeks ago.

After eight miles of walking, I reached the Acton KOA. A friendly lady quickly found my resupply box. Martina had two boxes and Karin had a box as well. There was a large room with tables where we sorted through our food and other items. For over a week I’ve been craving a Snickers ice cream bar; Martina kindly treated me to one when she got a cold drink.

It was late afternoon when we returned to the trail. We decided to make it a short day and went four more miles to a protected camp site by Mattox Canyon Creek. There were no trees for Karin to hammock. Since her backup is cowboy camping and dark clouds threatened rain, we shared my tent.

Day 27

I got a great night’s sleep and realized that it didn’t rain after all. Double wall tents are the best! Where my rain fly collected all the condensation and kept our sleeping bags dry, Martina’s single wall tent did the reverse. At least she stayed warm in her damp bag.

Our first 11 miles were almost entirely uphill, gaining 4,300 feet. Two flat sections broke up the climb and at the end of the first was the North Fork Ranger Station. I stopped to dry my tent fly and ground cloth on the sunny asphalt. Ranger Todd offered me a coke, which I declined, and a gatorade which I accepted. I momentarily felt like a wild animal lured in by a treat, though I appreciated his kindness.

Despite having five days food, my pack didn’t feel heavy and I enjoyed the climb. My legs felt strong and not at all sore. I marveled at the strength I have observed in my body since feeling discouraged only five days ago. At the top of the climb, I came upon Karin having lunch and sat down to finish mine. Martina joined us a short time later, having stopped to dry her sleeping bag.

Tiny patches of snow dotted the trail and we met many NoBo’s who weathered snow while we were getting soaked with rain. By The Way, a man we met at the KOA the day prior, appeared looking much perkier. In the end, we went 11 more miles for a total of 22. Our campsite had a lot of road noise, not ideal, but it had a pit toilet.

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