RV Parks and Big Balls

Day 4

Mileage: 22.8
Total distance: 91.2


Camp tonight is between two peaks on a ridge line running north. There is another dude down the way talking to someone on skype and when I passed by said, “waddup brah”. The sun set about an hour ago and the Stars have made an appearance for their nightly performance. Unfortunately my camp spot doesn’t have a sunset view, once again, but I will find out how to make that happen as much as possible. It looked like it was gorgeous tonight. Clouds are rolling in off the mountains opposite of mine and crawling down the sides. The wind has died down and the crickets are going to lull me to sleep. 


I woke up at 7 am and was exhausted. My eyes barely opened and my left leg ached beyond reason. I knew today wasn’t going to be a very long day so I laid there for a while, but my bladder was not cooperating. So, I just unzipped my bag and peed from my pad and threw sand over it. I sighed deeply and closed my eyes, but my mind was ready to go. After about a thirty minute battle I succumbed to the call and forced myself up with a deep, deep groan. I picked my things up, stretched, tipped my hat to the water tank for my five liters and took off. 
I left around 8:30 ish and immediately began descending down into the desert, but the way these trails work is that they scale along the side of the mountain rather than following the ridge, which makes the hiking so chill. Even though my left hamstring was screaming on every uphill, I couldn’t feel a thing going downhill or on level ground. The trail runs parallel to another chain of mountains off to the north and I knew at some point today I would be climbing up the monsters that towered over the desert. 

The trail drops you off in a straight away facing right at the mountain to the north and the sun just beats down on you without any mercy. Also, any cloud in sight just evaporates once it gets over the ridge and overhangs the desert floor so there is no hope for relief. My calves took a beating even though I applied sunscreen like it was my job and my face was once again met with that dumb ass wind from the west. I was unable to use my umbrella. 

I walked through the fire for about three miles and got to a road with a sign that promised showers and laundry for five dollars down the four mile road. I knew I would be going into town tomorrow so it wasn’t too appealing, but I only had two liters left and fifteen miles to go, with the climb up the new mountain, to a spot with possible water. I was conflicted on just chancing it or waiting it out for a hitch into town. I had no desire to walk the four miles, but cars were far and few between and everyone that came passed was a Lexus or Mercedes so there’s that. I decided to press on with my few liters, but immediately regretted my decision and turned back to eat lunch under a tree and wait for a car to come by. After about 20 minutes this rachet looking olds mobile came rolling down the street and immediately pulled over and my heart stopped with joy. In the car was an old woman named Kate who had some white hair left on her head and a belly that held her side down to tilt the car. She was insanely kind and I love her. In the drivers side was her husband Keith who was a soft spoken man with gnarly glasses, an American flag on his sleeve and a brace on his right hand. On the drive down to the rv park Kate asked me if I just wanted to get water from their place and of course I said yes. I got out of the car and was greeted by five dogs with massive balls and a girl dog with saggy tits. Ohhhhhhhh whose the baby daddy??? My money is on deputy. That dog is a boss. I went to fill my liters in the hose and Kate insisted I lay in the hammock under her pine trees she planted and relax a little. I looked at her car and all five doges were in the back seat where my pack was and fighting over something. Dammit. My food is going to be gone. Luckily, they were only chillin in there as it seemed to be their custom due to Kate’s dismal of the conflict. While Kate is filling my water she yells out to Keith, “baby fire up the grill” and he responds, “babe we already got some hiker left in the fridge”. 

After a minute this beautiful, old and busted up Toyota comes whipping in the drive way and driving the car is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. He had skin the color of a Cougars hide and long grey hair pulled back in a pony tail with a thick, trimmed beard. He had four front teeth missing and an unlit, half smoked cigarette resting in the left corner of his mouth. His eyes were ice blue and his attitude was joyful and playful like a young wobbly pup. His name was Rick. He started talking to Keith about riding atvs tomorrow and getting drunk, but they could find a designated driver. So Kate offered to strap herself down on the hood and drive them back when she needed too. I love Kate. Rick noticed Keith’s hand and asked what happened but Kate answered, “I told hem to punch me in the guht with all he got and he done broke his hand”. Isn’t she the best. Come to find out Keith missed a nail and whacked his finger and possibly broke it. Who knows if it’ll get checked out. 

Finally it was time to leave and deputy and Jacob were going to ride with us. Deputy insisted on sitting in my lap. As soon as we were about to take off, Kate tries starting the car but nothing happens. Keith takes a look under the hood for literally five seconds and asks Rick if he’ll drive me. I’m praying he says yes. I look to Rick and he is lighting the most epic joint I have ever laid eyes on in my life. Rick says, “huh?”. After asking him again he agrees to take me and spends about five minutes cleaning empty beer cans out of the passenger side. The door doesn’t open so I have to get in through Rick’s side and we take off. 

  • Some sweet rattlesnake skin. 

On the drive back, Rick begins explaining to me how much he hates people who fill up helium balloons and let them go. “Every one of them damn things ends up right here in this desert. You wouldn’t believe how many damn balloons I’ve found just walking to get the mail.” I laugh hard and repent for all the balloons I’ve let go. Rick doesn’t respond. I leave Rick with a knuckle pound, his choice, and begin my walk up the mountain. It’s around 3 pm. 


Things go well until around 6:30 and my energy tanks again. The walk had been beautiful and I rested a lot to drink my five liters of water and once sat right on a baby cactus and spent twenty minutes trying to pull the tiny needles out of my ass. They are still in there and I’m pissed. The sun begins to get low in the sky and the colors are just extraordinary. The shade from the mountain creeps along the desert floor and slowly swallows up the valley. By the time I got to camp I was beyond exhausted and sat for five minutes before doing any nightly chores. Finally I set up my shelter and made dinner and slowly began to feel better. My left leg is still jacked up, but tomorrow is chill. Hopefully this nights sleep restores my body to make the 19 miles to Warner springs. A moth is flying in my face due to the light from my screen and I’m getting pissed. 

  • The baby cactus that got my butt. 

Thought of the day: 

I wonder if any helium balloons I’ve let go have made it to Rick’s desert. 

Wind Blows

Day 3
Mileage: 25.8

Total distance: 68.4

Camp tonight is my favorite. EXCEPT THE WIND!!! It never stops! Constant cold air blowing over your back and numbing your hands to where typing is impossible. I swear this will take five hours. Camp is gorgeous though. An amazing sun lit mountain that has been painted with pinks and purples stands off in the distance as my backdrop and the birds are going off. 

I slept great last night and woke up naturally around 6, but was lazy again in the process of getting out of my fart bag. Immediately the wind was on and would dominate my day. I got hiking around 8 am and slowly got my legs working beginning the descent off Laguna Mountain. The pines were gorgeous and the wind made them dance, but shortly after appreciating them I came to the edge of the mountain, which drops straight down into the desert. 
The trail skirted along the eastern face of this ridge line and the wind just blasted over the peaks. For about 15 miles it was nothing but beautiful mountainous views to the east and gorgeous pone forest on my left, but the wind. just. dominated. everything! I tuned out most of my thoughts and tried my best to laugh off the ridiculous pummeling my body took from this wind. The clouds hazed the sun off and on and those brief moments of warmth and stillness were like entering nirvana. There were beautiful rock formations that would drip along the sides of the bluffs like icicles on a barn. When the clouds would drift over the valley and hang above the desert floor they disperse like cotton candy in a stream. 

Around 3 pm I was about 22 miles in and nearing the end of the descent and my daily low sunk in hard. I’m not sure if it was a lack of food or water or sleep or all three, but my mental and physical energy was shot. I took a twenty minute break and tried to shake it off, but this time it was here to stay and it would dominate me for the last 4 miles into camp. It’s like a deep soreness that feels like you’ve got the flu and breathing feels like a major effort in itself. This seems to be my biggest issue out here so far, but a good nights sleep always does the trick.

My energy started to come back as I got closer to the campsite and was so excited to have a water source and stretch and get to bed early, but of course nothing is easy. I got to camp around 4:15 pm and saw a sign that said, “Hikers, there is water in the tank. Bring a rope and a cup and ingenuity”. I was not inspired by this person’s whit. The tank had about two inches of water in it along with some old bottles and medical tape. The next source potentially could be 32 miles away and I was in no shape to do another 20 feet. Luckily a new friend named Neil Bob showed up to give me some company, but would be pressing on to a town 11 miles off trail to the west. My friend from last night showed up and busted out his pot so together we crafted a device to scoop water and then filter it and pray for health. He bleached his without filtering. Wtf? There were floaties all up in that shiz. Not me man. Not me. We sat for a while and relaxed until deciding to pack it in for the evening, but was met with a new face. An older man with a single pole and no gear. Supposedly this guy is on the trail, but has been taking a few days off from and busted knee. He also really wanted me to know that he has been traveling around for the past 7 years and every time he said that he looked right into my as if to say, “What? You don’t believe me?” Chill dude though. Doing his thing now. Also he said he only ate three crackes and drank half a liter of water today and did 28 miles. Pshhhhhhhhhhhh… Wacko
I got my tent set up and enjoyed the last bit of the sun painting the sky and just as I was about to turn in for the night a kite flew up in front on me and displayed it’s glory for a solid ten minutes. I was dumbfounded. I love that bird. Tried to get a picture but it dove as soon as i got my phone out. So, suck it. That was for me. 

  • Tank water ain’t dank water. 

Thought of the day: 

When will lemonade be available on Spotify?

Companion!!

Day 2Mileage: 25.2

Total distance: 42.6


Camp is in a magical pine forest on top of Laguna Mountain with heavy winds and a wonderfully colorful sky. I got into camp around 6:30 and immediately made a fire in the pits scattered throughout the campground and was filled with excitement to feel like a thru-hiker again with my nightly ritual of having a fire. About 4 miles back I met a dude named Roadhouse and flip flopped with him until we both realized we were headed to the same place and started talking. Come to find out this dude lives in Austin, grew up in Bowling Green, KY, where my dearest friends live and an hour from where I went to college, works in outdoor Ed, and hiked the AT in 2012. My mind repeatedly was blown and joy spread throughout my body. The sad thing is, however, he has less of a time crunch and within the next few days we will most likely part ways, but we have the next day figured out and plan to hike most of it together. Having a companion literally changes everything. I love it. 


I woke up at 5:30 this morning off my pad and freezing on the soil beneath me. I didn’t want to get up smade up a million excuses to sleep in, but my body was ready to go. Finally, around 7, I got up and packed things to start the day. The sky was overcast and there was a chill in the air, but off in the distance I could see the clouds breaking apart and hoped the sun would shine through. 


As soon as I started hiking I felt amazing and filled with energy, which is surprising because I don’t think I slept that great. I hauled ass 3 miles to a campground and plugged my almost dead phone in and began to clean some wounds and tend to some gear issues. I ended up spending two hours at this camp ground just stretching and lounging and watching great blue herons soar and land in some oaks with their lengthy bodies and clumsy demeanor. I chugged water and brushed my teeth and pooped in a bathroom and felt entirely rested before ascending Laguna Mountain. 

  • (Yucca plant?) Weird pumpkin-watermelon fruit. 

I left the campground around 10 am and started walking through the Cleveland National Forest and was blown away with the color of the sage brush contrasted with the clouded mountains in the distance. Walking was flat and smooth and I passed a snake along the way. A snake that yet again scared the piss out of me. 


My body felt amazing all day climbing up the 15 mile mountain approach, until 3:30. I stopped to breathe for a minute and my energy tanked immediately. My thoughts got low and I felt the loneliness creep in and those negative thoughts I’m trying to fight off to stay motivated and engaged. I spent some time reflecting on a conversation I had with a friend recently about how we are made to work hard at things and how good it feels to go to sleep exhausted and feeling accomplished. I wonder if violence and wars exist because humans aren’t working hard enough in their day to day lives and that energy goes misplaced and aggression becomes its identity. Like there is a need within mankind to work and push themselves and complacency allows for this desire to be manipulated into a million things that often become aggressive or egotistic. Something to think about at least. This got me excited to push myself and spend these three months exerting my energy so I feel fulfilled and validated in myself. 


My energy came back and I hiked the next 10 miles faster than I had all day. I was blasting up Laguna Mountain and scaring the shit out of lizards left and right. It was as if every step I took rattled the earth as the reptiles scurried along the fallen leaves. Off to both my sides were drops off the ridge and the mountains swarmed the valley like an army of orcs raiding a village. I was filled with wonder and my mind was sharp and focused on all that was around me. It feels so good to be out here and on my own schedule with no one to tell me what to do or when to do it, but to exist for myself and to survive alone in the wilderness. If only that emotion could stay permanently. I know the negative thoughts will return and that I’ll have extremely difficult times out here, but it’s necessary to count your blessing and take a moment to rest in the awareness of the beauty you exist within. 

Thought of the day:

Should I grab this snake right now?

What’s Left Behind

What’s Left Behind
Day 1Mileage: 17.4

Total distance: 17.4

Camp is under a manzanita tree on top of some soft soil right off the trail. It’s 9:15 pm when I finally decide I’ve had enough for the day and pull off to set things up. It has been an insanely long day and I’m dying to shut my eyes, but feel guilty for not taking a moment to write something. Considering so much has happened in the past twenty four hours. 

At 4:30 am I woke up to pee and looked up at the moon when I stepped outside and took a moment to appreciate the comfort of a bed and a home and warmth and relaxation. I knew that in a few hours I would be stripped of luxury and would be finding ways to convince myself that I’m happy and doing what I love, while feeling alone, afraid and exhausted. I peed for a long time. 

At 7:30 am my alarm went off and I felt extremely apathetic. I didn’t want to think that I was leaving this home and my girlfriend and all that life has become for me in the past nine months, but this feeling was short lived. Molly and I got our things together in a blast and before I knew it were headed to the airport. Leaving her at that airport will be etched into my memory and those last few moments with her I will hold onto for the many lonely nights to come. 


At 11:30 am I landed in San Diego and was greeted by a friend’s sister and her extremely invasive labrador-golden retriever mix. This dog jumped right into the front seat with me and concealed my vision for nearly the entire trip, but at least I don’t have allergies. I took my terminus pictures and said my goodbyes to the couple after a few jokes about walking to Canada, of course. 


I started hiking at 1:45 pm, but there are literally a million different trails right at the trailhead with zero signs saying which is the pct. So immediately off the bat, I can’t figure out where to go. After walking in a small circle a car drives by and I embarrassingly ask the driver where to go and he responds, “Are you kidding? Mexico is right there. Go the other way”. His sarcasm was unappreciated and my ego was shot in every way. He offered to get out and point to the path, but while he drove to park I ran away in shame and thankfully found the trail. Not off to the best start. 

  • An encouraging sign early in the day. 

Things felt good for most of the day. The wildlife was insane. I saw a hawk (red shoulder?) and a raven fighting, tons of lizards like western fence lizards and alligator lizards, a garter snake that scared the piss out of me (not looking forward to a rattler), a skunk that didn’t give a damn about me, rabbits and a ton of ground squirrels. I mean like a million ground squirrels. So many ground squirrels if I wanted to I could have punted one into the air. 



I had planned to hike to a small creek 15 miles in, but the creek was dry and I was met by two cracked out women who asked me to stay with them for the night because they were scared and had left their tents three miles behind while they searched for water. Nothing like meeting people on the trail. After I kindly declined their offer I bolted down a side road that promised water, but what they considered a water source 2 miles off trail was a stagnate bog with weird insects and algae living in it. The forest was drenched in oils from poison oak and I probably looked like a drunk frog dodging the obstacles in pursuit of my water. So I drank two liters of that and we’ll see what happens. I started feeling low and sad and lonely so I tuned into some podcasts and tried to hype myself up for the adventure. I blasted through four miles in search of signal to call Molly, but to no avail. It is now 10:30 pm and after patching up my freshly popped new pad, I’m going to sleep and remember that thru-hiking is a constant lesson and you must be brought low to stand on the mountains. 

  • My makeshift spoon because I left mine. 

Thought of the day:

I wonder how much it costs to keep the helicopters in the air all day patrolling the boarder. 

Opening

My setting for the past eight months has included wood stoves, books, cards, redwoods, spliffs, Christmas lights, melting a moonlit hot tub behind a lighthouse, warm beds, kerosene lamps, sheep skin rugs and coconut oil. Things have been rather lax you could say. By day I educate fifth and sixth graders on local ecology and mentor high school students, but by night I live a life suited for a Zen Guru. I haven’t been affected by my past too much and don’t put too much stress on the future as I have done before, but I’m still itching for a renewal; a restart from acquiring those filthy patterns that always seem to find their way back into our lives. I am deeply in love with a woman who has spent an insurmountable amount of energy in supporting me and stepping into my reality while pulling me out of my own masochistic and manipulative nature. I feel hazed in a realm of euphoria. Life is so precious in these days that are marked by finitude and closure. Soon I will be treading through the scorch of southern California, plastered with dirt around my calves and holding my self for warmth, alone in my swamp stenched bag. I try to make it a point to have these moments of realization that open me up to my surrounding to be aware of what life is. Rarely do others I find around me pull me into that atmosphere, but luckily my thoughts wander into those circles of perception. There is a desperate need for me to be stretched in my views and thinking so I set out for yet another step into the void of isolation in hopes of renewal and restoration to further my understanding of those patterns and cages I find myself in when my path begins to normalize and balance out. My first long distance trail eradicated massive constructs that have barricaded my ability to accept love and be good to myself, but there are many deeper-rooted lessons to learn that have caused those ruts to be formed in the first place and my hope is that through this experience and solitude I will see life in a new light and regard my existence in higher esteem. Life is an infinite awakening spurred on by experiences and effort. For myself, I want fulfillment and depth and in five days I begin another journey that fosters so much potential for both.

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