hitting our stride: days 26-29

Day 26: Mill Creek Fire Station to Acton KOA, 25 miles
Day 27: KOA to PCT mile 458.5, 14.5 miles
Day 28: PCT mile 458.5 to San Francisquito Canyon Road, 19.5 miles
Day 29: San Francisquito Canyon Road to Lake Hughes, 6 miles

Invigorated by our miles the day before, we hit the trail feeling like we’d really got into our hiking groove! The next water was 17.5 miles away, so we set out before 6am to try to escape some of the heat. There was also the promise of a cooler with soda & chocolate there, so we had that to motivate us, too! We got a big climb out of the way, and thought the rest of the day would be easy- until we hit “the poodle.”

All that green leafy stuff lining the trail is poodle dog brush, which apparently gives you a nasty poison ivy type rash. It also has an odor like marijuana, so at least you can smell it before you see it. We’d seen some of it the day before, but today it was all over the trail. Fortunately, we avoided it, and made it to the ranger station for water after a long afternoon nap. The cooler was stocked with snickers and soda, too! We overheard someone talking about the KOA campground 8 miles away, and were inspired to press on. We stopped for a quick dinner, and managed to make it to the campground just before 8pm. We took our first shower in over a week, which was much needed, as we looked like we’d be moonlighting as chimney sweepers. The habitat is getting much more deserty and dusty by the day.

The next day, we by the trail early again to cross the 10 totally exposed miles to Agua Dulce, which the PCT goes directly through. Just before town we hit the Vasquez Rocks Scenic Area, and enjoyed the dramatic rock walls.

We arrived in town by 10am, and spent the next 8 hours lounging in the shade outside the grocery store. There is no post office in town, so we didn’t have a mail drop to pick-up; instead, we resupplied at the store. It was nice to have a couple different meals and snacks! We had pizza for lunch, and chatted with other hikers, before heading out of town around 6pm when the heat finally broke. We made it 4 miles before it got dark, and called it a night.

The next day was all about escaping the heat again.  I was a little worried, but we were lucky in finding a few good shade spots along the way that made the heat bearable. We made our miles, and camped along the road.

On day 29, we woke-up excited for a day off. It’s been since mile 100 since we’ve really taken a day off, and this part of the trail detours right through Lake Hughes because of another fire closure. There is a small historic inn and restaurant in town, so we called ahead to reserve a room. 6 quick miles later, we found ourselves enjoying a well-earned beverage at the bar.

We hoped we’d be able to swim in the lake, but when we got to town we learned it had dried-up four years earlier. Despite that, we had a relaxing day eating yummy food from the inn, doing laundry and getting cleaned-up, and escaping the heat!