Day 8: Sunday, May 12

Cowboy camping south of Tule Spring (136.7), a 21.7 mile day, plus a mile or so of extras

Couldn't sleep well last night ... I had too much energy left over because I hadn't spent enough (by my new bodily standard) during the day. Vowed to get a full day's output today. Definitely succeeded.

Left camp around seven, bugs had woken me up early this time (we were by a stream). Trail had a little tooth this morning ...relatively cool and shady, but all uphill for the first 6 miles or so and at a little steeper grade than we're used to so far. Then when the uphill stopped, it passed through a burn area that was filled with white boulders ... Utterly shadeless and dazzlingly bright at 11am. Had to bust out the shades for the first time. These go well with my sun hat.

Early on I was hiking with Alex's friend Doran, who is sectioning. He was eating the yucca petals so I tried one too. Tasted planty. Don't see the appeal. After awhile I shot ahead of him and all the others who had been camping in the vicinity ... Legs were feeling strong. Same exact thing happened at the one-week mark on the AT, I felt like the wheelchair guy in Avatar when he realizes his avatar has legs and he goes running around like crazy. That was this morning, just like the first Sunday morning coming out of Hiawassee two years ago.

Talked with a pro trail crew taking lunch in the shade around noon. Soon after, got to the turnoff for the big attraction for today, the house of Trail Angel Mike. Didn't know much about this going into it except that a dude named Mike owns a house right by the trail, gives hikers water for free and sometimes lets them camp and cooks for them. As I soon learned, Mike is a businessman in L.A. and is rarely at this house. He lets other people run the show while he's out, and they're pretty weird. They are all nominally PCT hikers but none of them had hiked much lately for one reason or another. One lady just started living there with her dog when they made it there three weeks ago, one dude is a total wack job, one is a fat guy who claims to have hiked there a week ago, and the guy who seemed to be the most in charge was also half-baked the entire time and not exactly Mr. Congeniality. Then there was Judith, a nice older hiker lady who had a genuine complaint, an injured knee, and Pascal, the Frenchman whose two enormous donkeys were posted in the front yard. Pascal was the best ... He had just started on a "3-5 year" "way of life, not an adventure" whereby he and his two pack donkeys, Daisy and Jimmy, are going to hike up the PCT to Oregon, cross over to the Continental Divide, hike south to Mexico, and then continue to Chile, ending in, of all places, Puerto Montt, which I've actually been to ... It's an ugly seaport and thus a bizarre ending goal but he plans to sell the donkeys into good hands there and buy a sailboat and continue around the world. His plans have currently ground to a halt because Daisy is limping. He seemed patient and optimistic. He also knew a lot about donkeys, including the fact that bears will attack horses but not donkeys because donkeys "fight to kill." When it came time for me to leave, Jimmy the donkey was blocking the one exit from the property, back end facing toward me. No way I was approaching that thing from the back ... They fight to kill! Luckily Pascal was able to coax Jimmy out of the way for me. His blog, for those interested, is

When I first got to the house all these people except Judith, Pascal and presumably the donkeys were pretty well stoned and trippy music was blasting all over the house, but they had just fixed some rice and bean burritos and I was welcome to it. I waited out the mid-afternoon there on the porch as the others trickled in ... T-Cozy, Brandon, Doran, Alex, the Clintons, and an old Canuck named Greg, in that order. Vajazzle has been suggested as a trail name for Alex. He was tepid about it.

Hiked out around 4:30 and after about 3 miles crested a saddle to what I can honestly describe as one of the most beautiful views I've seen in my entire life. Hard to really describe what I was looking at, even geographically ... I think Lookout and Table Mountains may have featured, but there was more to it than just that, all made better by the late afternoon light. I took video, pictures wouldn't have done much. Afterward it was 7ish miles downhill to this spring, which was my goal. Backtracked a bit after getting the water because I was weirded out being close to a road, even a dirt one, alone. This all leaves me in position to get to the Paradise Cafe 15 miles away before they close at 3 tomorrow ... They have something legendary called the Jose Burger there. Idyllwild tomorrow night.