The Acton KOA is right on the PCT, so the morning commute was easy. David walked with me to the trail. Down a small decline we encountered a still swollen stream. The stepping stones and sticks crossing it, were inadequate to prevent wet feet. David in his ever gallant style hefted a large log for me to cross.
This section of the PCT has many and frequent interactions with civilization and the local community; rail lines, road walks, parks and walking right through a town. Crossing the first rail line I encountered the “Golden Spike” monument, documenting the completion of the PCT on June 5, 1993.
One thing this desert allows you to do is to fully appreciate the rock formations of the mountains. Here, there are some small mountains coming out of the hills into Acton that I called the Warty Mountains. Leaving Acton, I passed close to some of these warty protuberances.
The real surprise came shortly after when I descended into a small lush valley. The greenery taller than I am and almost competely covering the path. Almost obscured until you actully reach it, is a highway underpass. This underpass is at least 50 feet below the highway level and at least 50 feet long somplete with a stream of algae covered water flowing down the center.
Emerging from the dark, dank underpass the valley continues , now with amazing rock formations. These are the Vasquez Rocks I had heard so much about. I was approaching the town of Agua Dulce (Sweet Water).
In some cases the trail takes you right alongside these natural sculptures and it is clear that birds and other animals use the many hollows for home.
Formations this beautiful cannot exist exclusively for those hikers on the PCT. The trail winds through a park with many picnic tables, outhouses, much signage, and even signage designating the types of rock formations.
All this comes with many additional trails winding and intertwining with the PCT. In this maze of trails and intersections the small, suble PCT posts become lost, as did I. Close attention to the Halfmile PCT app, once again saved me much time, although even when I thought I was being attentive I would suddenly see that I was 172 feet west of the PCT!
The actual town is reached by a road walk and it is really cute, nicely kept with quaint, attractive buildings and shops. interestingly I recall seeing no one as I walked through. I do not even recall seeing cars, it seems looking back that it was a movie set, although I know this cannot be true.
I was nearly through town when I heard my name, “Runningbird!”
“Tomato!” I called back, seeing the young German man I had met coming into Acton a couple of days back.
“I was in ‘Hiker Heaven’ the last two nights,” he replied. “I just ate my fill of Mexican food and am heading to Casa de Luna. How about you? Shall we do the road walk together”. He asked.
“Great! Company on a road walk is wonderful!”
We hiked together for the rest of the day as Tomato confided issues with relationships and changing thoughts regarding his future. Heading off the road and back into the hills we passed what Tomato explained was a movie staging area complete with part of an airplane.
We passed another thru hiker, Mark and then encountered Nate, on the morning of his first day of a section hike. He had lost his way and was walking back and forth on top of a knoll. He had also already lost his sunglasses.
Nate followed along with us to Bear Spring, a piped spring with clean water. The Northbound Journey equestrian team were there, this time I met the riders rather than the tenders. A brother, sister team, Fire Mane, a tall, handsome young woman with a mass of long thick shining red hair, and Mountain Man, a young man who fit his name perfectly. Following a brief rest and easy going discussion of weapons of the woods (Mountain Man won with, among other things a foot long knife that looked as though it could do serious damage to a Great White Shark).
Tomato and I headed out together, inviting Nate, who said he would follow. Tomato went over the route with him, but we never saw him again.
David gave a us a surprise visit at the next Highway – meeting Tomato and giving us Gatorade.
I followed Tomato to Casa de Luna at Mile 478. Casa de Luna is a hiker refuge operated on donations. A husband and wife have turned their yard into a rest and rejuvenation spot for thru hikers. They provide taco salad at night, pancakes and coffee in the morning. They also provide Hawaiian clothes to wear allowing you to rinse or air out your hiking clothes. In addition there is free access to their garden hose and many bars of soap – even a scrub brush!
I chose a little Hawaiian dress, allowing me to wash my legs and arms. I met several other hikers there, some recovering from injuries and some just on their way out.
My tent pitched on a thick bed of manzanita leaves made a soft bed for the night.
I left too early the next morning for coffee or pancakes but was grateful for the resting spot.