Day 7: Saturday, May 11

Cowboy camping at one of the Agua Caliente stream crossings (115.0), a 13.9 mile day.

Woke up with the sun straight in my face for second day in a row, 6:45 this time. Lots of activity already at the campsite ... Clintons and T-Cozy had maildrops to catch at the Warner Springs PO ten miles away by 1:30, at which point it closes for the weekend. Cleaned up a bunch of the empties from the night before and left. Could find no way to dispose of the unused eggs and bacon that had been purchased for some reason on the second store run. Another warm morning, a lot of it through cow pastures with the sun coming down pretty hard. 80 degrees maybe, and very little wind for a change. I really liked the open-plain walking, which made me think I should do the North Country Trail someday, although Kristin would probably leave me if I did that, so maybe not. After 6 miles I saw the completely absurd Eagle Rock (pic below) ... all I could do was laugh.

Caught up with T-Cozy right at the town, he was busy being harangued by a sketchy ass fat dude that charges lots of money to run shuttles, resupplies and water caches (none of which are necessary) for hikers ... He was just hanging out on the trail within a hundred yards of the road flagging down anyone who walks by. "If you see an old Ford Explorer with a bunch of PCT stickers and the back window busted out, that's me!" He actually said that. Then he told me, scoffingly, that "the phone thing doesn't work on the trail." So fuck that guy.

Wasn't sure what there was exactly in Warner Springs. It's on the trail, essentially, and up until two years ago had a bumpin resort that pretty much every hiker used as their first town stop. Then the resort closed and it's basically just a post office now. However, it turns out that people volunteer at the town community center and run a little hiker aid station during day hours in April and May. They charge pretty modest fees, considering their location and the cornered market, for showers, laundry, hamburgers, hiker-specific groceries, etc. I had heard this place existed but it wasn't in any printed source so I wasn't sure what to believe til I got there. It was pretty damn plush. Ended up spending about 5 hours there, 11-4, waiting out the heat of the day, chilling with the crowd of hikers that has finally formed near me, and eating burgers. Had so much energy that I wanted to leave around noon but at the same time knew that wouldn't be bright ... I would hike too much too fast, get sunburnt and would more or less guarantee that I'd lose all my new friends for a few days or more. So I took it easy, still got almost 14 miles in regardless.

Last 5 miles was another pasture walk, in which I had a kind of scary standoff/retreat with some territorial horses and had to make a 200-yard arc off the trail to avoid them, followed by a climb up into the San Jacinto range. Camped by the crick with Alex and his section-hiking friends Doran (son of Drain?) and Brandon. Tomorrow might actually be a full day of walking.