Day 26 - Mike's Place!Mile 115.4 to 127.3 (11.9 miles hiked)
I had set the alarm for 4:00am, but warned Sits that I'm a persistant snoozer and that I'd likely roll out of bed around 4:30am. He snipped at me like that was idiocracy and stated that 4:00am was 4:00am. Then, I asked him, "Is it?"
Around 4:30am I started to organize myself and my tent innards. This means getting as much of my pack and day organized as was possible, without ever leaving the warm comfort of my sleeping quilt.
This means I take my daily medication and vitamins. I pour electolyte powders into my water bottles. I pull out food and snacks for the day, consolidating and organizing as much of my foodstuffs as possible. I unplug all my various electrical doodads from my battery backup, tie up all the cords and pack them all in their baggies and containers. I wipe down and sanitize those things which need wiped down and sanitized. I change my clothes. I pack all my clothes into their baggies. I spend some time looking at maps and water reports to strategize the day. Then, I deflate my mattress, roll it up and put it in its bag.
I finally emerge from the tent, where I usually wander off to water a tree and take a photo of my tent (if I remember [It was too dark on this particular morning]). Typically, around this time, I find a good sitting rock and put on my shoe system (toe sock liners, wool socks, trail runners and gaitors [sock protectors]). Then, I remove everything from the tent, break down the tent and jam everything into my pack. Finally, I just sit on a rock for a few minutes, listening to my breath. This part is very important to me.This
morning was like most mornings, except that it was dark and my headlamp was running very low on batteries. So low, in fact, that it would randomly shut off, from time to time. Around 5:30am Sits and I were packed up and ready to go. There was just
enough ambiant light that I was able to start walking without my headlamp.
We walked about 1/4 mile when Sits started jumping up and down and swearing a lot, just randomly and out of the blue. "What?! What's going on? All well!?!" I shouted.
"Damn it! My water is leaking. My ass is all wet!"
I cracked an inappropriate joke, then took off my pack and waited for him to figure out what was happening. As light as I was trying to make the situation, having a leaky or broken water container can be bad, especially if you're 12 miles away from the next water source, it's going to be hot and you're hiking all uphill. That's a sticky situation, indeed!
"Don't worry. Worst case scenario, I have 4 extra unused liters you can take. If we have to, we can go back down to the stream and fill them up. You'll be fine.", I offered.
Sits pulled everything out of his pack and piled it up on the trail. He pushed and pulled his water bladder, looking for leaks. He couldn't find any, but his primary bladder and inside of his pack was undeniably wet. He unscrewed the lid and screwed it back on. He continued to squeeze on it, looking for cracks, leaks, holes, punctures, etc. He was unable to find one, finally deciding he'd simply not screwed the lid tight enough, in the first place. He put everything back in his pack and we kept walking.
Starting early is a great way to get some miles in, without direct sunlight. It's not as hot, which means less sweat, which means water goes much further.
Getting higher up the mountain.
Yet another gorgeous valley view!
Well before the sun hits hard, I'm already drenched.
Drenched or not, it's important to stop and smell the flowers. ...
We popped up over a saddle into the Valley of the Boulders. Some of them were as big as houses. Most as big as cars. I felt like I'd landed in Bedrock!
Yabba Dabba Doo!
I call thing one "Geriatric Jaws".
This was a long and hard day. The first 7 miles were relentless uphill. Thankfully, we'd started early. We were able to knock out the first 7 miles by about 11:30 and really only had 5 more miles. .. and most of it was downhill. Sits and I were both fried, though.
We decided to keep going. We walked downhill for about a mile, where we were at the base of another uphill swing. While uphill is hard on lungs and muscles, downhill is punishing for bones, knees, feet and ankles. After 7 miles uphill and 1 mile down, we were both done. I noticed a little trail off to the left veering into the manzanita. I beckoned to Sits who followed. I removed my back, crawled up onto a shaded rock and shut down. Sits climbed deeper into the manzanita, found a shady spot, pulled out his fancy reclining chair, sat in it and quickly fell asleep. We both languished in that manzanita grove for a good hour. Finally, the sun had moved enough such that we were both lying in direct sunlight and were forced to get up.
We had about 4 miles to go, about half uphill and half downhill. We were both absolutely dragging, but without water to sustain us, we could do nothing but push forth. Up and down and all around, we slogged forward.
Finally, after 4 more hours, we saw a sign pointing through the trees. It said, "Mike's Place" and it had an arrow pointing up a small trail. Sits headed up the small steep trail. I somewhat followed.
We came over a hill onto a road. We followed the road for about 500 feet and saw a giant water tank with graffiti all over it. Across from the tank was a row of hikers sitting in a row of beach chairs. They all jumped and cheered as we approached. They said we should follow the road down to Mike's where "treats" await!
We finally arrived at Mike's Place. .. A famous stop along the PCT. It's known for being a little weird. I didn't know what to expect.The best I can muster is. ..
I'm sure we all know what a "Man Cave" is, right? In much the same way, this was a "Man House
". There were muscle car parts everywhere. Weight lifting equipment. Beer bottles and cans all over the place. All manner of kitchen equipment and more. ..
Sits echo'ing my feelings, exactly. In front of him is Radio Rob.
The Spaniards everyone calls "Peter, Paul and Mary."
Taking my shoes off at the end of the day is the best feeling ever. Who likes my tan?!
Crazy outdoor kitchen area. Mike's caretaker is in there prepping. He goes by the name "Off Trail".
More hikers, sitting around. ... Probably taking about food or poop.
Wood fired oven.
A mural some past hiker must have painted.
Shitphone, Scott and Sky all making pizza.
No description necessary.
If you follow the above sign through the trees, you'll end up, here. I was told that the idea here was that hikers could bond over shared experiences. ..
The view from that very special place.
Mike's Place was definitely unique. I met Mike. He was roughly 60 years old, balding and had a very relaxed demeanor. He was rolling what appeared to a large cigarette, loaded with some kind of fuzzy green sticky-icky. He offered it to me, but I politely declined and wandered back off to the pizzas, where I showed off my pizza skills.
Mike, I'm told, is a successful guy in Long Beach. He owns this property to "get away" and absolutely LOVES hikers. It really felt like the entire place was geared towards hikers in one way or another. I was also told about the one time his wife visited the place. She's never returned. The place was fun, strange and absolutely disgusting. Great pull apart bread, though!
I suppose I should mention one other tidbit, before I set my tent up for the night. Trail names. Thru-hikers all gain trail names, somewhere along the trail. Sitsonrocks, for example, is my hiking buddy's name. That said, his name is somewhat illegal, in that he named himself. You're supposed to be named by someone else. Sits, I think, was in a hurry to get one. I tend to think "Tripsonrocks" or "Hobble" is more apt for the guy, but Sits seems to be sticking.
In a chat with some friendly hikers, one of them said, "You know what you guys are called, don't you?" ...
"No, I don't. Do tell!"
"Everyone refers to you guys as Redford and Nolte."
"Ouch!!", I winced. "I wonder which of us is Redford? I mean, I'm
the spectacular slice of man meat with the glorious mane of golden hair. I must
be Redford. Right, Nolte? You're the kantakerous one!"
Cute movie about the Appalachian Trail, for anyone who hasn't seen it. ..