In yet ANOTHER act of generosity and kindness, Melinda drives an hour and a half back to the Kick Off to take me and hikers Cheesemeyer and Twister Hair to Barrel Springs. I get to spend another night in the peaceful teepee and then head off to Warner Springs.
It’s a fantastic hike – the best section for me so far. Evidently, Warner Valley is usually lush with wildflowers, but because of the drought and the fact that the ground water is siphoned to supply a neighboring community, the valley is not quite as color full this year. I’m not disappointed. The lovely waving grasses, live oaks and Eagle Rock are a much needed break from the pokey, pointy desert.
I easily cover 10 miles. The Warner Springs Community Center has been transformed in to a hiker rest stop. Volunteers serve hamburgers, stock a small resupply store, let you soak your feet, and provide computers and WiFi.
Hikers are spread out on the lawn, drying their tents and sleeping bags still wet from the Kick Off storm. I stop for some food, write notes for blogs posts, and meet up with Nostradamus and (formerly known as) Hatchet from the water cache party.
I leave by 4pm and hike 5 more easy miles through live oak forests, past small streams and hummingbirds. I pitch my tent next to Otto, a hiker from Tennessee and make some pasta. Days like today make it all seem so easy.
The next day, I hike with Sunshine (a transplant from Holland) and her husband, Lost and Found (from somewhere on the east coast). It’s much warmer today and we hike through boulder gardens on sandy hillsides. Our motivation is Mike Carrera’s house. Mike is a trail angel notorious for hosting hikers in high style. At around mile 125, we see hand painted signs directing us to the house. Once there, things are mellow. Much more so than I was lead to believe.
Evidently, the hosts were waylaid by Kick Off, so paint your Paint Your Wagon and Mover are holding down the fort – just making sure hikers have water. There is nice smooth, cold cement circling the house and I take off my shoes and “soak” my feet on the surface. Other hikers arrive and people roll out their mats to nap, rearrange gear, refill water bottles, and chill out.
At 5pm, I head out. I want to make it to mile 132. I continue on – my first time night hiking. It’s warm and I can make out the city lights of Idyllwild in the distance. I feel excited and drawn to them.