April 29, 2018
We were awake and packing our tent at 6:30 a.m., surrounded by many other hikers engaged in the same activity. Weeks on the trail had conditioned us to rise with the sun, even when camping at a hiker hostel.
Two early morning hours passed quickly at Hiker Heaven. We recharged our phones and talked with other hikers. I introduced one hiker, Special K, to the delights of eating corn chips spread with butter. “Oh, if my friends could see me now!” she exclaimed. “Hiker health food!”
The 8:30 a.m. shuttle carried us to the well stocked Agua Dulce General Store, where we bought breakfast and supplies for the next few days. To make up for my pre-breakfast “health food” snack, our morning town meal was the epitome of healthy; a salad of spinach, goat cheese, boiled eggs, and avocado, with blueberry yogurt for desert.
We sat at tables on the porch of the general store while we ate and organized our food, talking with locals and other hikers. Time flew by as we shared hiker stories until, at 1:00 p.m., the sun, at its zenith, began signaling that it was more than past time for us to get hiking!
Accompanied by a cool mid-day breeze, we set off through 2.5 miles of town, heading for the hills. Two miles later, still surrounded by civilization, I found myself in desperate need of a toilet. Frantically, I scanned the surrounding houses and buildings. I knew I wasn’t going to last another half mile to the relative privacy of trailside bushes. Fortunately, the Shepherd of the Hills Church had open doors and friendly people who gladly let us use their restrooms. I am forever grateful to these cordial and gracious people, and their open door policy!
Once out of town, we enjoyed views of clouds, hills, and bushes while the trail gained altitude.
The trail gained the ridge top, but kept on climbing. The cool wind, so welcome in Agua Dulce, became a bit insistent, prompting me to wear warm hat and coat.
After climbing 2,300 feet, we finally dropped over the ridge edge, meeting a few welcoming groves of live oak trees. Many old cow patties attested to the shelter provided by these trees. The view was spectacular, miles of bushes and oaks, with not another tent in sight. Gratefully, we pitched our own tent and turned in for the night, a nearby screech owl sending us to sleep with an unusual lullaby.
April 30, 2018
Gray sky put a definite tinge of humidity in the cold, early morning breeze. The trail wound around the sides of hills, occasionally crossing a ridge top, sometimes diving through an oak grove. Poodle dog bush and poison oak abounded, slowing our progress often as we stepped carefully to avoid these plants.
6:00 p.m. brought us near San Francisquito Canyon Road. Beyond it, the trail headed uphill again, with no feasible campsites for several miles. A hiker hostel named Casa de la Luna offered shelter and companionship just a couple of miles down the road. But after 15 miles of hiking, all I truly wanted was a flat spot out of the wind. Hiker Heaven and Agua Dulce had given us plenty of companionship, and we were still enjoying our solitude. We found a flat bit of dry creek bed at the bottom of a very short sandy draw and quickly put up the tent, appreciative of the shelter from ever present gusts of chilled air.