Tuesday, April 25
Start: Southern Terminus
Stop: Lake Morena
Multiple alarms go off at 430am, followed by the rustle of backpacks being loaded with gear. The Scout and Frodo breakfast promptly starts at 530am and hikers gobble down fritatta, fresh fruit, muffins and coffee. I decide to call Lil’ Buddha for a bear update. His voice is tired and he’s just had a tramatic evening dispatching the bear and protecting the chickens. The bear came back last night with force, making the chicken pen his playpen. Upon finding its first entrance industriously blocked, it tried a new entrance at the manure door. Lil’ Buddha even drove a car down to the cage, bright lights shining and the bear climbed on top on the wire pen into a tree. Who makes the next move? The bear scampers down and bluff rushes the car before sauntering off. Its attempts to get in were futile and no more chickens lost their life. I end the call abruptly because it’s 5:50am and time to load up for our ride to the Pacific Crest Trail Southern Terminus.
The ride is about an hour and there’s good conversation with our angel driver Bob. (Dang, was that his name?) We all do the customary southern terminus pictures and then point ourselves north under gray skies. The trail gods are looking out for me today and have ordered up the cool hiking weather. After the 1 mile mark, I call Lil’ Buddha again and we chat through the progress he’s made with Fish & Wildlife. I’m literally hiking down the PCT talking on my cell phone doing the most un-nature thing there is. Next are calls to Ukiah High School and Bobby Taylor because I’m trying to rally the bear troops for Lil’ Buddha. While I’m at it, I leave Cherub a WhatsApp message.
I’m literally like 5 miles down the trail until I finally start to notice my surroundings. I’ve been in a bear vacuum and not present to my surroundings. It’s like some kind of warp where my feet move me down the trail but I’m not really here.
All day, water is plentiful and flowing and I never imagined that the trail could look like this. The miles pass slowly but regardless, I take a nice lunch break at mile 9 and a five minute nap. I finally find my speed and push into Hauser Creek about 330pm. The caffeinated crack cocaine electrolyte makes me feel loopy but after some water, a probar and another five minute nap I’m ready for the climb out of Hauser. I power through like a champ, surprised by my energy. Thanks Nuun electrolytes! There’s a brief moment of cell service and I get more bear updates from Lil’ Buddha. The culvert trap is in place and armed with irrestiable treats. I drop into Lake Morena, grab some burgers and resupply at the malt shop and head back to the campground. There are a lot of hikers here but everyone is exhausted and to bed early.
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