May 23

Mountain Valley Retreat to Warner Springs Resource Center

8.3 miles

This morning I woke up in a tipi. A cat came to visit me in my bed. That’s right, a bed. Sleeping in a bed is something I should never take for granted. Or sleeping with a cat.

After some nice coffee, we had a lovely session of hiker yin yoga in the studio yurt. The foot stretches especially felt like something important. My body is taking a beating in these first weeks of the hike. My feet most of all. Chery talked about the importance of foot and ankle strength to prevent sprains on the trail. She also showed us a couple tent yoga moves that we could do to warm up in the morning.

I drank another cup of coffee and a huge breakfast from my food bag. Then I got a ride back to the trailhead, much as I hated to leave the land of yoga and cats and tipis. As I resumed my new regular life that is walking on the trail forever, I did feel stronger for the short day and major relaxation. The feeling of being clean and wearing clean clothes did not last as long. In an hour I was just as dusty and dirty as usual.

The trail went through pasture lands full of dry sticks and dried cow plops. It reminded me of being a kid, playing in the fields with my sister and our friends. We used to take off our shoes and socks, so they wouldn’t get full of foxtails. My feet were leather hard when I was a kid. Not anymore.

Eagle Rock is out in the middle of dried fields of grass. I’ve seen so many pictures of it, I recognized the shape of the surrounding hills. Day hikers materialized. I handed my phone to one and clambered up the rocks. Too fast, because I bashed my knee on a rock that was a cheese grater. Yup. I shed blood on Eagle Rock.

It was another two miles to Warner Springs and then another mile to the post office. When I came huffing in the door two minutes after the hour, I thanked the woman behind the counter for not closing right on time. “I saw you coming,”she told me.

I walked back to the community center. I washed my legs off in the bucket shower and rinsed out my socks. Two short days in a row. My feet better be healed up and leather in the morning. Hikers were scattered out in the field behind the community center. I found a decent spot next to some picnic tables. The field was also home to a large extended family of bunnies. Big bunnies and baby bunnies. Squirrels too. I bet all those cute fluffy animals are major thieves. The woman at the check in desk affirmed that. “Watch out for your food. We’ve got lots of clever little animals here. And don’t hang your wet laundry on the fence. The cows will pull it down and stomp it into the dirt.” Naughty cows!

This was the first night I’d camped with a crowd of hikers. I met a girl who told me she’d lost her phone during a hitch in the back of a truck. She’d used “find my phone” on her boyfriend’s phone, which led her back to a gravel road. She found her phone, obviously run over, and still working. 

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