Tuesday, May 30
Start: mile 407.36
Stop: Santa Clarita Travelodge
I awake absolutely exhausted. I slept ok but my body is tired. And the only way to get out of here is to hike. I’m climbing by 6am and our camp must have been a cool pocket of air because I very soon cross into warm air and I’m sweating. My underboob heat rash/chafe is already hurting. Luckily there are clouds threading through the horizon and they help block the eary rays. Every now and then I pass through a cool pocket of air and I soak it in.
I collect water from a spring and then continue on the climb. As soon as I crest the mountain, I text Aunt Mare that we won’t be in until tomorrow, Wednesday. I take a break in a nice cool draw under a pine tree. It’s heavenly and I don’t want to leave. I only allow myself 30 minutes before pushing back out onto the hot, burnt trail. It’s 5.6 miles until the Mill Creek Fire Station and I put my head down and go. I pass two hikers taking a cigarette break on the side of the trail. Uggg. The trail is hot, bright, waterless and burnt. In case you haven’t caught my drift, this scenery is weighing on me and I’m over it. In the distance I can see a paved road that passes the MCFS and I imagine that it goes to Acton. I figure that here’s my chance to escape this misery.
About 5 miles out I get a text from Lil’ Buddha and now it seems that he’s taken a road and is ahead of me. I’m kinda ticked because he told me he was going to take the PCT. I waited for him a while at the spring thinking he might need my water purification drops (his sawyer filter is broken). And I’m surprised when he doesn’t come by during my cool break. Sure enough, he’s there at the Mill Creek Fire Station when I get there at nearly noon but there’s blessed trail magic of powerade and beer to ease my annoyance.
“Soooo, Acton is an amazing resort where we can relax and Dope Joe (trail magic provider) can take us there. I really don’t want to hike through this burnt, waterless section coming up. I’m over it. You want to go to Acton?” asks Lil’ Buddha.
All the other hikers under the semi-shaded pavilion look on as contemplate this idea for a split second. “Acton? Resort? Haha. But, YES, let’s go.”
Dope Joe gives a few other hikers a ride and then comes back for us, a group of five. The other hikers waiting with us are injured and need some rest time. We cram into Joe’s Nissan and zip into Agua Dulce. He drops us at Sweetwater Farms before continuing onto Hiker Heaven. I text my Aunt Mare to say we’re in town a day early. She’s got plans so we uber into Santa Clarita and get a cheap hotel.
It’s like a moment of perfection when I can get my greasy, sweat-starched clothing off my body and step into a shower. With beer in hand of course! And no trail abort day would be complete without a picture like this in your hotel room.
AND Get caught up on the Unogwaja Challenge recap videos! See the beauty of team work as well as the spectacular landscape of South Africa! Become a part of the Unogwaja movement by donating to the Light Fund (in Jess Kavonic’s name) on the Unogwaja website. Cherub (Jess Kavonic), you are such a Light for South Africa!
You can find more pictures and videos on the Unogwaja Challenge Facebook Page too!