Mile reached: 131.5 (+22.0)
High: Hanging around a wood fired oven with a new crew and cooking dinner.
Low: I walked into a tree that I couldn’t see under the brim of my hat.
It rained over night. Not a lot, but enough to get everything wet. I was camped at the Warner Springs Community Resource Center with a number of other hikers. Most everyone got a late start (read: after 7 am) to let their stuff dry out. I treated myself to breakfast from the hiker box. (Many locations that receive thru-hiker traffic have a pile of food and gear that is up for grabs because the owners no longer want to carry it.) I had my eye on some cool looking noodles a Korean guy left, but was slow on the draw and ended up with Top Ramen and peanut butter and jelly tortillas instead.
The most exciting news of the day was that the wind was gone. But, leave it to hiker trash to find something new to bitch about. Everyone talked about how hot it was and how they were running low on water all day. The terrain didn’t help either. From Warner Springs it quickly transitioned from grasslands to chaparral and at higher elevations the occasional pine tree appeared. Most of the day was sun exposed.
Everyone was excited to reach “Mike’s Place”, a dump of a ranch house out in the middle of nowhere. The owner, Mike, for years has had a water tank just off the trail for hikers to fill up at. He also allows them to stay on his property and often feeds then as well. Amusingly, Mike made his fortune in the industrial tortilla machine business. Every Frito-Lay tortilla chip comes off of one of his machines.
By evening about 10 of us had collected at Mike’s and the caretaker, “Off Trail”, had the outdoor pizza oven cooking. He asked for a volunteer to help with prep, and everyone quickly looked at their shoes. So, I volunteered to take one for the team. While “Off Trail” made pizza, I made pulled pork tacos using leftover pork shoulder topped with a tomato jalapeno salsa. Nothing tastes better than calories you don’t have to carry.
Everyone else was intending to spend the night at Mike’s and then go to a water tank the next day making for two back to back 17 mile days. However, I wanted to go further and end up at the Paradise Valley Care. So, I said my goodbyes and added 5 more miles in the dark.