(Casa de Luna – Lake Hughes Road) mile 478 – mile 486
I woke up in my forest nook and wandered down for the pancake breakfast. Casa de Luna is like an enchanted hippie forest. I had to have a big explore looking for my favorite painted rocks hidden like Easter eggs in the Manzanita forest.
I’m going to try this night hike thing again. This time without forgetting crucial gear. I sat on the couches and listened to peoples’ plans and worries about water and heat. The word around the forest is that people are going to start skipping ahead to get out of the desert. I don’t think I’ll do that. My brother is sending some stuff to Hiker Town. I need those shoes. And socks. All my socks are getting holes. On the ball of my right foot. Maybe I like to grind that one spot.
There’s an outdoor shower at Casa de Luna. I love an outdoor shower. I went back to Heart N Soul to have more milkshakes and coffee. Around 7, a trail angel named Nancy was ready to take hikers back out to the trailhead. We had to wait for the dramatic separation of a trail family. Some members were skipping ahead to Kennedy. Only a few would keep marching through the desert.
Nancy had a nice dog that likes laying on top of hikers. It’s only two miles back to the trailhead. Nancy passed around her hiker book and took pictures and gave us all beef jerky and gummy bears. As soon as I started hiking again I was ravenous. I couldn’t get those gummies in my mouth fast enough.
I’d had coffee mixed with a coffee energy drink before leaving. (I know, gross) It was still hot and a little windy. For awhile my caffeine and sugar bomb worked. I chugged up the hills and got back into the rhythm. The sun set and an almost full moon lit up the path. Just after it was dark enough that I put on my headlamp, I came around a corner to find a bushy black and white tail about 20 feet ahead in the path. A skunk, involved in some skunky business, and I did not want to alarm it in any way at all. I turned off my light and backed off. Pretty soon I could see the tail bustling away down the hillside. When I inspected the spot where it had been, I found a dug-out hole. Maybe it was after a lizard or some other little creature.
The other animal I saw was a kangaroo rat. I really love seeing all the animals. It’s a little scary being out at night. The wind makes creepy howling noises. Parts of the trail were overgrown with sharp bushes that I had to push through. Parts of the trail went along cliff sides. It’s better, I learned, not to shine the headlamp down to see how far I could tumble. Just focus on the path at my feet.
I could tell when my caffeine buzz started to crash. My eyeballs went blurry, more than my usual post-40 crap night vision. I felt like I’d been walking for hours. Of course, not a flat bit of land to be found. In the distance I could see scattered lights. Road crossings usually have good camp spots. I stumbled down to the sand of a long dried river bed. Another tent glowed in the shrubs nearby. The guys I’d come with in the car were camped there. I tried to find a spot far enough away that they wouldn’t overhear my trumpeting beef jerky farts.