Day 8: Through Polarized Sunglasses

Mile reached: 155.7 (+24.2 + 2 off-trail)

High: Reaching “South Muir Woods” and its water tank

Low: Running out of cheese

Liters of water carried: 4

Days cheese lasts in desert without refrigeration: 1, 2, the world may never know

The section of the trail between Mike’s and Highway 74 is brutal. It’s over 20 miles though east-side desert and loses 2,000 feet only to gain it again on the other side of the canyon. To add too this there are only a few water sources and they all have contamination problems with numerous reports of people getting sick aftering drinking from them.

Fortunately, I had done 4 miles the night before. I woke up early and got started by 7, the plan being to knock out as many miles as I could before it got too hot. I did a few miles, but it heated up quickly. So, I spent most of the day being cooked in the sun.

I forget at times that I’m wearing polarized glasses. By filtering out much of the scattered light, they make colors of the desert so intense, and I’m always surprised how different things look when I take them off.

Attempted to take this photo though my glasses. The green of those trees was intense!

Very purple cactus flowers. Others were yellow or green.

By far the most entertaining part of the day was meeting “K-pop” and “Poko”. I was cruising across a canyon traverse when I heard a bunch of shouting, but couldn’t place it’s origin. Within a few minutes I ran into two Asian hikers, who had spotted me across the way. They are from South Korea and Hong Kong respectively. They both speak pretty broken English and can only communicate with each other that way. I would later learn that “K-pop” is carrying a keyboard and does karaoke in his tent every night well past hiker midnight. Someone tried to explain to him that he needs to keep it down, but he didn’t understand.

Regardless, they exude an intoxicating enthusiasm! When I met them they were shouting, “Paradise! Paradise! You go Paradise?!” (The Paradise Valley Cafe is a significant destination that signifies the end of this stretch.) I indicated that I was, and they erupted in cheers. You can’t help but smile.

“K-pop” and “Poko” as enthusiastic as ever. We had to help them order the Jose burger with a confused waitress.

By early afternoon I was tight on water, but made it to “South Muir Woods” run by a trail angel named Mary. I was just expecting a water tank, but she had built a picnic area, a privy, a shower, and even a library. I didn’t want to leave the shade, but eventually I trudged on to the highway, where I discovered that the trail angels “Oak” and “Cypress” had been there. I found a bag of their tangelos and enjoyed one.

A much needed oasis!
Mary is kind of a hippie. She has life sized cutouts of Whitman and Muir adjacent to a library.
Definitely not sauntering, though I met a trail angel who did last year. He spent a week off trail bowling in South Lake Tahoe…

It was a two mile round trip along the highway to Paradise. Someone tried to name me, unclear if it will actually stick. I was amused that someone else was named “The Fuzz” right as I showed up. Apparently, he was giving an English couple a hard time about skipping trail.

Dusk is awesome. I did four more miles before calling it a night. I think I’m done hiking in the midday heat of the desert.

Best part of dusk until I start kicking rocks.

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