Total Miles: 109.5
Happy Mother's Day! A special shout-out to my Mom (a.k.a. Mountain Mom).
XC rolled into our camp at Barrel Spring late last night, and we laughed until well after hiker bedtime, i.e. 9pm. I know, really letting ourselves go. It was great to see him and catch up on the news of where Gazelle, Beardoh, Sweet Pea and Lid were. It turns out they had all hitched into the town of Julian the day before, and so were now just behind us on the trail.
Morning came especially early for me when I realized that my sleeping pad had sprung a leak and completely deflated, leaving me on the cold ground. The lack of sleep wasn't the worst part—knowing how difficult it can be even to find the leak was what really kept me awake. Add to that the shin splint I started sprouting yesterday that gradually went from a hint of a nuisance to a significant pain and it seems the train of early-hike hiccups continues to roll. Collectively, it's been more frustrating than I'd hoped for in the first week, but I certainly expected there to be more than a few kinks to work through in the early going.
All of that was tempered by the fact that today was going to be a short day into the town of Warner Springs where a community center catering to hikers is staffed by volunteers. Everything from showers to a small resupply store, Epsom salt foot baths, home baked cookies, and even a hamburger cookout for dinner makes this place quite an oasis after the first 100 miles of trail.
The morning took us through terrain we'd not yet seen—rolling grasslands with golden hues punctuated by rocking outcroppings.
The most famous of the rock outcroppings is Eagle Rock, where XC, Proton, Ace and I stopped for a few photos before pressing on. Even having seen photos of it numerous times before, I was still amazed at how eagle-like the rock really is.
When we finally rolled into the Warner Springs community center just before 9:30am, I think all of us were in need of some motherly care. Between blisters and shin splits, I think we were pretty psyched to take full advantage of everything on offer. Not surprisingly, given the wealth of resources and the fact that it's Sunday—meaning we're all waiting for the post office to open in the morning to pick up food drops—by evening, we'd formed quite the little tent city in the grassy field behind the community center.
It's anyone's guess how much this will help my shin splint, but it seemed like it was worth a try anyway.
Over and above all of things available to us, and even the day of rest, was the reunion of the thru-hikers we've quickly grown to be friends with this first week—XC, Sweet Pea, Beardoh, Lid, Proton, X-man, and Gazelle. Kinship can form fast on the trail but I'm blown away by how fantastic all of these people are and how lucky we've been to meet them all so soon.