Total Miles: 465.4
Weather dictates all manner of things out here—moods, miles hiked, the amount of water needed and thus pack weight. In exchange for the cold of the last few nights, moving down the trail during the day has been unseasonably comfortable. In truth, I continue to win the weather lottery. Despite the intense heat of the sun on many days, temperatures could have been hotter still, and although the cold nights weren't necessarily toasty, they could have been much more uncomfortable. Not too hot, not too cold, Goldilocks approved.
We stayed last night at a KOA campground just a quarter mile off the trail where it crossed a small highway. Between a shower, laundry, and camping on the grass in much warmer temperatures, spirits were high all the way around.
Just as we headed out this morning, XC decided to get in a quick ride on a discarded plastic bicycle...
Moments later, we passed a small monument which appeared to commemorate the completion of trail construction in 1993.
The trail rolled along and eventually tunneled under a highway before entering the unique formations of Vasquez Rocks, twisted and contorted heaps of stone ribbons that look as though they'd been extruded from the earth below in some massive upheaval.
Just 10 miles into the day, the four of us found ourselves on a short road walk directly through the hamlet of Agua Dulce. A one stoplight sort of town without the stoplight, Agua Dulce is actually quite charming, complete with everything a hiker could want—a grocery store, restaurant, hardware store, and a famous family-run hostel called Hiker Heaven. Although we'd be pushing on after eating and resupplying, most of the other hikers were planning to stay at Hiker Heaven tonight.
Three hours after arriving this morning, we said our goodbyes to Beardoh and Sweet Pea, who will be taking a day or two off to visit with family, and continued on the trail as it followed the road a few miles out of town. It's always sad to part ways with great people, but we're all hopeful that we'll reconnect before we reach the Sierra.
As Agua Dulce drifted behind us and we began to climb the grassy mountains that awaited, my mind began to wander. I marveled at how perspective out here expands and collapses so rapidly. One minute you gaze in wonderment at both the beauty and immensity of the world you find yourself surrounded by and the next you're focused on the pain in your feet or shin or knee. And moments later, the cycle repeats itself. I can think of no better way of appreciating both the scale of the world and your place in it.