Leaving the Saufleys' is awfully difficult. They provide a large collection of cots, some within enclosed screen tents. There are also an old singlewide with a shower and kitchen for hiker use and a rack of thrift store bicycles to make it possible to resupply in the nearby town without hitching rides. In the center of the hiker area, there is a fire pit surrounded by hay bales which seems to attract young musicians with borrowed guitars. A few outmoded recreational vehicles on the edges are used as "couples rooms" on a first come, first served basis (so to speak), and a row of porta-potties form a southern wall at the edge of the sleeping space. Rescue dogs and cats roam the several acre property scavenging hiker leftovers; just below the hiker area, four or five horses wander around a large, clean enclosure. At around noon yesterday, a local women's hiking group appeared with cases of Top Ramen and danishes and other Costco-purchased hiker treats. We thanked them with our mouths full of their proffered cookies, crackers and donuts.
Today, we had to move on. Mermaid and Coyote took off early; Far Out and I lingered, fiddling with the contents of our bags, drawing out the inevitable. We had the volunteer drop us at the French bakery for late breakfast. Puff pastry and eggs scrambled with mushroom and asparagus. Amazing. Real coffee. Also amazing. Walking quietly past a familiar passed-out hiker who had fallen on hard times was the most difficult part of my day. Better he sleep it off on the porch of a restaurant, I reasoned, than risk exposure to the elements on the trail. Hope he's alright.
We road-walked a mile or so to the trailhead, stopping to help a sheriff's deputy look for a huge rattlesnake that had just moved off the road. He had been worried, legitimately, that it had made its way into the corral just up the embankment where a couple of horses stood quietly watching us. Though I could not find the snake for him, I answered plenty of reptile questions. It hadn't occurred to him that snakes are drawn to horses because mice are drawn to hay. He felt justified in trying to contact the property owners to warn them. Happy deputy. Perhaps he will go easy on our enebriated friend.
Seems like all trail angels are positioned just before some big godawful climb. This one was around 2500' over 3.5 miles, actually gentler than some of the others. At around mile two of the climb, the grey clouds couldn't hold it any longer. It rained for three and a half hours off and on, up until just a little before dusk. Far Out and I were cold and drenched when we started looking for a flat, somewhat protected camping spot. By the time we found one, we were both shivering in the mild downpour. I managed to set up my bivy, change clothes, hang my wet stuff on a manzanita, get out an entire meal and find a place to relieve myself all in about 15 minutes. The rain slowed and stopped soon thereafter. Hopefully my crap will dry tonight. At least my shoes. That would be nice. At present, I am dry but still shaking in my little waterproof coffin about 10 miles from the Saufleys'.
Ya, never rains in southern California.