September 29, 2017
Horsecamp – Casa de Luna
33.5 miles/11hrs (including the 2 miles EXTRA I did (yes, I did…) when I walked the WRONG WAY at the road junction to Casa de Luna…and then back to the trail to go the RIGHT WAY…)
We all creep out of our little dens or cowboy camping patches of earth early. Very early. The stirring begins at 3:30am (me). One by one, we rise up, pack up, head out. Except Carefree. She is…Carefree after all, and on her own time. Good for her. Headlamps bob up and down along the trail. I have no idea who these people are by the way they move because I haven’t walked hundreds (or thousands) of miles with them. When they speak and get closer (when they pass me) I can tell who it is. It’s a beautiful thing knowing someone other than your partner/spouse in the intimate way of subtle movement. I don’t have this on the trail but can see the others do.
We dip in and out of sight from each other. Pass and re-pass each other. We all search for water and share intel from tanks (or ‘guzzlers’ as they are sometimes referred to as. I love this word.). Per Bear and I were shut out of the peeing-water spring in the morning dark. There was nothing coming out of those holes. In my head, and out loud, I mentioned it’s probably because the cabin the pipe is going to shut off their water pup for the night, leaving no pressure for water to flow or wait to be flowed. It wouldn’t be until the next day I say this out loud at Casa de Luna, when Papa Joe looks at me and says straight faced ‘and who in the hell do you think has a cabin up in the middle of fucking nowhere Angeles National Forest, RedFeather?’ Uh, oh, ya. Duh. I have to laugh when I hear this because my city brain makes so much sense out of this situation with city logic.
But back to the no-water-in-the-morning-spring. Lesson learned. When you are at camp and CAN get water, get AS MUCH as you can (from a flowing source, that is. Caches, if they are there, are a different story).
Light comes to day as I walk the manzanita-lined trail and see a 500ml bottle of water in the bushes to the right. I poke my head in and find a sealed bottle, label faded by the sun. Bingo. What a score. A hiker must have dropped it some time ago because where I find it does not make sense for someone leaving this little gift for someone else. I am free to walk without water worries a little longer now. Sweet.
We pass another hiker named Irish Canuck. I’ve been reading his entries in the registers. I wonder if he’s Canadian or what the story is with the trail name. He is definitely not Canadian. He’s an Irish American New Englander who’s mom’s family was French Canadian. Thus, the name he gave himself. He’s been walking since I believe Ashland, Oregon, and seems shocked to be passed ‘I haven’t seen many hikers and definitely have not been passed by any. Then today all you folks come running my me like I’m standing still’. I tell him I’m not with this crew, I’m just tagging along for the day, but yes they are fast. What I’m doing is basically pretending I have that easy speed you get from walking so damn far. I am not slow but nor am I fast. Today, for awhile, I pretend I’m fast by keeping up with the guys and girl for a little bit. Then I say my quiet ‘uncle’ by stopping for a break for some food. I know if I try to walk with them even for this day I will be destroyed. But it is so much fun. But I know….
So I take that break then walk some more and am treated to a little soft bird lifting off from a low branch on a tree. Before it takes silent flight, I get to look right in its eyes: the Burrowing Owl. What a beauty. This brings a spring into my step that leads me to the seep we all hope has water. I round a turn and see all the awesome Hiker Trash I get to now call friends huddled in the shade, smiling and drinking sweet water that drips its way out of the moss covered rock on the side of the trail. The seep is crowded with ferns, crisp and cool sweet earth juice drip drip dripping into the bottles lined below. Sweet trail magic from the Mother of all Trail Angels: Mamma Nature, herself.
Everyone leaves except me and Irish Canuck who arrive last. Soon I pack my bottles and head south with the welcome load of liquid. Still not sure what I will do. Go to Casa de Luna, keep walking, camp after the road junction? I have no idea. I will know when I know. Go with the flow.
Irish Canuck walks with me and tells me stories about his life, his walk, himself. He’s pretty funny. Soon we begin to climb and I, by the osmosis of walking with the SOBO thru hikers and going faster than my current state of ability, begin to motor. I get into a tempo rhythm that reminds me of many a bike interval I did up mountains training for road cycling endurance racing events. I just start to hammer but am well within my limits. I now know I will be going to Casa de Luna. I also know I will most likely be taking a nero or zero the next day. With this decision, I hammer some more.
I reach the road junction with cars and trucks blowing by, ripping around turns, driving so fast I wonder how safe it is to walk this road. I walk a whole long way – about a mile – and realize I have gone the wrong fucking way. No. Yes, I have. I turn around and walk the mile back to the trail crossing of said highway, then continue along the correct way to Casa de Luna. I am so pissed at myself I don’t even try to hitch. I reach the convenience store and see two hikers getting out of a mini van. They are wearing hawaiian shirts and I wonder are these my new friends? One looks so clean I hardly recognize him. It’s Ohm Boy and Leafy. They smile and say ‘hey RedFeather, you decided to come after all’. I meet Papa Joe, the Patriarch of Casa de Luna, and he says ‘throw your bag in, get some grub, let’s go drink some beers.’ I tell them with a laugh I walked the wrong way and laugh some more at myself because here I am so happy now after this long day and it’s not even four o’clock in the afternoon.
Food. Beer. A hug from Terry that warms me through each cell of my body. Chips. Water. Oranges. More food. More beer. Finally, camping in the backyard at Casa de Luna, a hiker refuge along the Pacific Crest Trail that is first and foremost the home of Terry and Joe Anderson, two wonderful, real and tough as nails humans with the warmth of the morning sunshine pulsing through their veins. I feel lucky to be here within such goodness. Happy. Tired. So very alive.
September 30, 2017
Casa de Luna
I am immersed in the vortex of Casa de Luna. Happily sucked into this place. This morning Terry Anderson piloted four of us to the trailhead: me, Ohm Boy, Kirby and Per Bear. The latter two had already begun to drink into the ’24 Challenge’ and thus were committed to walk. The 24 Challenge, you ask? Doesn’t everybody know what this is?? Ok I admit I didn’t so will explain: 24 miles walked drinking 24 beers in 24 hours. How Kirby that small woman who kicks walking ass did this I have no idea. But she is determined and I know she’ll make it. We sit in the car with Terry, wonderful warm and welcoming Terry, saying ‘you know, we’re BBQ-ing today…it’s a good time to zero…no need to leave…You know…you can stay as long as you want….’ and so on and so forth. To which I begin to wonder, why the heck am I leaving? I’m not on a plan, a schedule, I have no limit as to how long I can walk. It’s another realization that the walking is just part of the hiking experience. It’s times like these and people like Terry and Joe and their Casa de Luna experience that make up for the substance of the hike.
I have enrolled for a day at the ‘Hippie Daycare’.
The wonderful Terry (back middle) and Joe (front waving) Anderson of Casa de Luna (beside me is Righteous, Terry, Ohm Boy, Kirby, Per Bear; beside Joe is Leafy. And yes, we all wear the requisite hawaiian shirts)
Kirby, Per Bear and the ’24 Challenge’. Yes, we did send them into the wilds alone.
To which Ohm Boy says, ‘ya, me too.’
As simple as that. We leave Kirby and Per Bear loaded with beer and smiles and get back in the car with a beaming Terry. She just loves sucking people into the CDL vortex. From her heart she really wanted us to stay. Fun.
We pull into the convenience store and see Righteous and Leafy getting out of Joe’s mini-van. ‘You guys staying?’.
And so a zero (for me) and not even a nero (for Leafy, Righteous and Ohm Boy) begins. Those guys get antsy at about 11am and have to get back on the trail. I’d be the same way if I was walking like them. They’re on a roll and a morning-mid afternoon off is plenty for their massive capacity. By 4pm Joe shuttles them to the trailhead. I discover the next day by the entries that (a) Kirby and Per Bear succeed in the 24 and (b) the other 3 guys hike well into the night and catch up to their two drunk friends, walking 24 miles to Agua Dulce.
I say goodbye to these wonderful young people I’m grateful to have walked some miles with. Even if I wanted to tag along with them (which I could not…there is a BIG difference having walked as far as they have compared to my yet-to-be even 1000 miles of walking…you earn the rhythm and capacity of endurance they have by walking. Far. I would be soon destroyed if I tried to keep up), I know how special a hiking family is. I know you can’t force your way in. In some ways, I know I’m on a different kind of walk. So are they. But damn, am I gonna miss this SOBO hiker trash. Can’t believe I only met them two days prior.
For my part, I hang out, drink a few beers, eat some BBQ, paint a rock, hang out some more, eat some more, meet an awesome lady named ‘Super Classy’ and her boyfriend Mike who is a mystery but from what I gather is retired marine, purple heart, MMA fighter and much much more. They are beyond cool on Mike’s motorbike. Joe has been around thousands of hikers and doesn’t walk with just anyone. Super Classy is Papa Joe’s hiking partner, and has hiked the PCT and more but takes time from hiking now to fight for public land in this strange and frightening time of American politics. She’s a legend as Joe puts it because she and her friends hitch-hiked into Casa de Luna with a bottle of tequila for Cinqo de Mayo, then finished their NOBO thru hike, came back the next year on halloween to walk that 24 mile stretch from Casa de Luna – Agua Dulce in halloween costumes with candy. Something like that. Anyway, I am nowhere near as cool as any and all of these people (Terry, Joe, Super Classy, Mike…) so just hang out and listen. It’s an entertaining day that trickles along in doses of experience. A perfect zero.
My painted rock. Art therapy for the zero.
Oh, and just to mention, anyone who stays at Casa de Luna, the donation should be honoured. Per day. It’s an incredible thing these folks are doing. Do the right thing.