Water: 1L from jug at fire station; magic pepsi and rootbeer; KOA tap water; 1L Almond Breeze; bottle of Smartwater
The wind died down in the night and what must have been the lone mosquito at our dry camp found my face. I woke to buzzing in the dark and dug out my head net, but it must have been too little or too late. My cheek is swollen with mosquito love. But at least there is no sign of poodle fallout. Legs, hands, face are clear. And no bears in the night. All is good here. except I realize I have no idea where ‘here’ is. My phone gives me the local weather: for Los Angeles. Interesting. I check my maps to get more specific, and offer my curses to Mount Gleason, for yesterday’s late poodle-riddled climb.
It’s a town day again, always good motivation. 14 Miles to the KOA in Acton. I think we are all disappointed to see more PDB. There’s even bits at the campground (which technically is closed). I barely have energy to go around and between, having exhausted all my poodle cares yesterday. And there is poison oak too. As of the trail doubly does not want us here.Wonderful.
Next water is at a Fire Station, one that survived the burn thanks to a vigilant caretaker. It is incredibly hot again and we on the way we play “how much would you pay for a cold soda.” At the fire station, Cody yells “there’s soda and you don’t have to kill a baby for it.” Trail Angel Ron is here, helping to stock an icy cooler with soda and snickers. We sit at a picnic table in the shade where there are water jugs for hikers and hear some tales from the trail. Messenger flats, it turns out, is the only place Ron has seen cougars in multiple through hikes. You know, where I slept without tent, semi-alone with my food last night. “Their eyes were watching you” he taunts.
Water is a huge concern up in these dry isolated hills. The trail will take us to town faster than Ron can drive the semi-abandoned roads for logging trees that are no longer. They would offer showers if they could, but even keeping the five gallon jugs full for hikers is pushing it.
Fueled with a potent combination of ibuprofen and caffeine, I course over the sandy downhill stretch, making four miles in just over an our. Each step is hotter than the last. There is almost not shade. I stand on ridges to catch the odd trace of wind. Then four more miles, all down. But there is trail magic at the bottom too, Coppertone with root beer floats. He was just about to leave, following the herd up the trail to do more magic.
The thermometer at the KOA reads 101, though not fully in the shade. My box is here (thank you Barbara!) And the ETA, written more than a month ago, is for today. Nailed it.
There seem to be three crowds at the KOA: dirty PCTers with tents and tyvek grouped in the shade on one side of a field; families looking for a cheap vacation on the other; and a biker convention with live band in a side lot.
Washing poodle traces, dust and sweat from bodies and clothes is a priority. I dig through the hiker boxes looking for some temporary clothes to wear post shower while waiting for laundry. The boxes are rank. A mix of damp KOA lost and found, half exploded ziplocks of mystery food and ants. I manage a passable towel, t-shirt and boy scout shorts. Sniff at your own risk.
The shower is glorious. The popsicles are cheap. And I even get an enthusiastic hug from legendary trail angel Donna Suaffley, who though retired, is here dropping off boxes mailed to her house by mistake. A much needed day of magic and cleanliness after the poodle run.