tiffany's pct journal

California Section D: Agua Dulce to Interstate 15 (Cajon Pass) - Part I.

Days: 124 - 126.
Dates: November 4 - 6.
Trail mileage: 2198.6 - 2267.0.
Distance: 68.4 miles.

Leaving Hiker Heaven was tough. Most of us stuck around until late morning, then went down the road to get brunch in Agua Dulce. It was a beautiful day, so the 6 of us ate outside and took our sweet time.

For some reason, the waitress wasn't coming out to give us the bill, so I went inside. But when I went in to pay my bill so I could head out, the waitress told me our whole bill had been paid already! I couldn't believe it. We still have no idea who it was, but we all left a note behind with the waitress (each of us left a small message and signed it) to say thank you. I hope they received it.

leaving Agua Dulce
Finally leaving Agua Dulce

Soon after leaving Agua Dulce was a walk through the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, well-known for being the setting for several Star Trek episodes. I'm not a fan myself, but I could see why you'd use this spot to film a scene taking place on another planet.

Vasquez Rocks
Vasquez Rocks

Yahtzee and I ended up hiking together for most of the day, and we stopped at the Acton KOA for an hour for a snack (yay for Sun Chips). On our way to camp, we passed by a guy who had set up camp, and was bikepacking across the country. He had been all over the place, and it was cool to talk to someone who was doing something similar, yet quite different, from us.

Daylight savings had thrown everything off a few days ago, so the days were feeling particularly long because I was hiking several hours into the night now. The next morning began with a 10-mile climb, with a lot of uphill throughout the day. I was still somehow able to pull 30 miles. I could see city lights everywhere that night, and figured I must have been really close to a city, although I wasn't sure at the time what city it was.

The countdown was happening fast, and I hit the 400-mile marker for NOBOs that next day.

400-mile marker for NOBOs
400 miles left

I had to take an alternate on the trail that day because there was a section of the trail closed to protect an endangered frog species there. That section was also apparently pretty washed out because it hadn't been maintained for the same reason. The alternate was a steep uphill climb to Highway 2, then a 2- or 3-mile road walk on a really narrow shoulder on the winding highway. I was glad it wasn't heavily trafficked, because I admit it didn't feel like the safest place to walk at times, especially around some of the bends.

After the road walk was one of the biggest climbs I'd had in awhile in the desert, climbing up Mount Williamson. It was steep. I realized afterward that I probably could have just walked along Highway 2 around the mountain and ended up back on the trail because once you're over Williamson, you cross the highway again, but that did feel just a tiny bit like cheating. Plus, I was proud I made it up that thing.

sunset on Mount Williamson
Desert sunset from Mount Williamson

I was planning to hike longer that day, but when I hit another crossing with Highway 2 (we crossed the same highway multiple times that day), there was a van pulling into the parking lot. They rolled down their window and asked if I was a PCT hiker. Turns out the people in the van were a couple who hiked NOBO on the PCT in 2015 named Poptart and Slug! They had met on trail, and were still together when I ran into them.

I talked to them outside of their live-in van for quite some time. As I was coming down the mountain to the parking lot, I saw 2 headlamps coming down a little ways behind me, and thought it'd likely be people I knew, given that there weren't so many people out on trail anymore. It was Ctrl+Z and Katie! They joined Poptart, Slug, and me to stay and talk for a bit.

Well, "stay and talk for a bit" turned into a 2-hour long conversation with them next to their van. At one point, Slug even brought out camp chairs for us to sit on. They gave us snacks (honey Dijon chips and cucumbers, mmmm) and kombucha. It was so random, but awesome.

I had originally hoped to start the Mount Baden-Powell climb and have less uphill the next day, but I realized I'd remember these moments so much more than an extra 5-mile push at the end of the day. I also was nearly out of food and now had more miles to do the next day, but I was lucky Ctrl+Z and Katie had stopped because they had extra food I could have. Katie coined the term "trail-endipity" to describe that night. It's the perfect word for it.

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