Miles: 20ish
Camping: Some old abandoned orchard on the side of the road (off the PCT)
Hikers seen on trail: 0

Waking up from the best night of sleep in weeks, I immediately felt all of my new blisters rearing their ugly heads. One was even presenting itself on a previously healed toe. “This is getting old,” I thought, but I was so well rested I hardly cared. We weren’t planning on hitting the trail until evening, so I figured I’d just let them be for a while and enjoy the day.

The Anderson’s is like the Yin to the Saufley’s Yang (or the other way around, I can’t be sure). It’s an anything goes atmosphere where Terrie and Joe Anderson rule the roost. Terrie grabs a ruler to smack the rear of any unsuspecting hiker not following rules, and Joe diligently slaves over a griddle all morning, turning out stacks of cinnamon pancakes for all.

There is a giant sheet hanging from the garage where everyone grabs sharpies and leaves their mark, with a sign reading, “hippie day care,” hanging above. Everyone is required to wear a Hawaiian shirt, and beer is the standard. I couldn’t find a soda in any of the coolers, so I was stuck hydrating with plain old water. Probably for the best after 4 pancakes and 4 cups of coffee.

Everyone was in debate over the next section of trail. There is a 40 mile closure due to the Powerhouse fire last year, with 3 options to get around it. There is an aqueduct walk, a road walk or yellow blazing (hitch hiking). Ninja was determined to walk the road, but I was trepidatious. Pavement jars my body, creating a vast array of aches and pains, but skipping sections feels like cheating.

I opted to let #1 shake down my pack and lighten my load before deciding. A shakedown is when someone goes through every item in your pack and tells you what you can get rid of to make your pack lighter. The idea makes me feel vulnerable, but my shoulders have been feeling the weight lately, and I know I have some unnecessary ounces and pounds riding me low. He managed to get at least 3 pounds of stuff off of my back, and I agreed to walk the road with my buddy Ninja. There is apparently a dirt shoulder and a restaurant 8 miles in. I figured my thumb could grab me a ride if I was feeling miserable, but I’m here to walk from Mexico to Canada, not hitchhike.

We left around 5 after a shady nap under a tree. We were both woken by fire ant bites, OUCH!! I see why they are called that, as it felt like a match head being pressed on my skin. A welt began to form, and I became ready to get marching on. The walk was long, but bearable. We stopped to eat at the historic Rock Inn, where I had a big chicken salad and we split a brownie sundae. I even convinced the waitress to mail my shaken down gear ahead for me, as my shoulder pain was beginning to feel like a knife in my back. When we shook down, I had neglected to see if there was a post office to deal with the excess weight. Bless the sweet waitress for her kind deed!

My shoulders felt great for the next 14.5 miles, and we walked through the night. Ninja is pretty fond of walking with headphones in, so I called up a couple of friends and caught up while walking the desert road under the stars. The side of the road was unpaved, and the air cool. I got real drowsy around 1am, but we needed to get farther up the road to make the night hike worth it. A rough endeavor for those who usually retire at 9pm. It’s the way of the desert though, time to flip our clocks.

We passed the 500 mile mark on the side of the road at 2am, and the Proclaimers instantly got stuck in my head. That song annoys me so.

We ended up finding a deserted orchard at 2:30 and I could hardly walk another step. I was deliriously tired. We found a spot not ridden with giant creature holes and cowboy camped beneath the old trees. Just a few hours of sleep before 3.5 miles to finish the road in the morning. My blisters had me hobbling for the last few miles and it is a big pain…but, blisters aren’t injuries and I will survive. Cheers to sleeping under the stars!

Morning pile of hikers at the Anderson’s
Terri Anderson and I