463.5 – 478.6 15.1 miles (+ 2 extra long extra ones)
Although every hiker lives and hikes by the HYOH tenet (Hike Your own Hike), there are a few places along the PCT at which one really should stop. One of these is Casa de Luna. It is the home of the Andersons, where you are greeted with beers and hawaiian shirts, you eat giant taco salad at night, you camp in a manzanita forest, you bond and make friends and you inevitably stay longer than you ever intended.
Today is Casa de luna day! I’m up and out before the rest of the gang. I was given strict instructions to wake a few as they are seeing the wisdom of my hike early, rest in the heat of the day, hike late daily routine. Seeing the wisdom and actually getting out of bed are two very different things and I can tell they won’t be getting up anytime soon!!
It’s already hot before the sun peeks it’s head over the mountain. I have “here comes the sun….it’s alright” in my head as I see it coming. I can handle a little heat, right? – it’s in my Perth blood 😉 I have to walk waving my poles in front of me as there are a tonne of spiderwebs criss-crossing the path between the bushes. You are welcome late getter-upperers!
Oohf it’s hot. And up. And dusty and red. It’s lovely hiking. Just a little less heat please. I dream again of cold things. Cold drinks. Cold anythings. I listen to TED talks to distract me. At the top of one of the climbs is a great little shaded cave created by curved over trees. The Andersons used to maintain a cache here for hikers for years, but some local snot-face made a complaint so they had to clear it out just a couple of weeks ago. Boo.
I rest as long as I can stand the bugs. I want to get to Casa de luna by lunch so I can chill out for the rest of the day. I’m not sure if I will stay the night – I might night hike out depending on the vibe and the crew hanging there.
Now I’m getting heat -grumpy as it nears midday. The trail is being deliberately long. It’s somehow extending itself just to annoy me. Finally finally finally I can see a road in the distance. I start running down the parts of the hill that are runnable, sign a register that is along the path and eventually make it to the road.
There is a road walk. There is a little hand-drawn map at the trail head showing how to get to Casa de Luna, but I don’t know how far down the road it is. I start walking. And stopping under every tree. And swearing. And basically being a grumpy little turd. And swearing some more. 2 very hot very long miles later I see the store on the corner of the road I need to walk down.
Cold things!!! All the cold things!!!
I choose a coconut water and an icey pole, then explode my giant pack everywhere trying to find money. It’s never in a convenient place because you don’t need money on trail, right? I apologise to the growing line behind me and the cashier. Their words say it’s ok, but their faces want to kick me.
Finally paid and packed up again I get back on the road towards the house. And drop my icey pole.
I consider picking it up and washing it off, but I ran out of water on the descent so I say a tearful goodbye to it and keep going.
Finally. Finally. Finally. I am there!
There are people, but no one I know. I wander about confused – what am I supposed to do? One girl tells me to find a campsite out the back in the forest. “I’m not sure if I’m staying”, I try to explain. She laughs and says “we’ll see”.
I just want water on me and in me. The shower is being used. Then it is impossible to figure out. Why is it all so hard? Finally I’m in there – it’s a strange shower and hard to get clean. I do my best with the strange little bits of soap and shampoo in there. It’s kind of open so my underwear stays on and I do a bad job rinsing my clothes to dry on the line.
Finally kinda cooler, kinda cleaner, I head back out the front and choose a hawaiian shirt- the Casa de Luna uniform. I feel a bit more settled. I’m offered a beer and a hammock to lie in. Magnificent. Now I can function.
There are new friends to be made! I meet Tara and Ceili! They are part of the Rat Water Gang that are friends with the crew I’ve been hanging with. I meet a whole big bunch of other people. Fun times and good people! Yay! Everyone is pretty subdued as it’s so hot. There’s music to listen to, rocks to paint, corn rows to braid into our hair. Tim turns up for a little bit but heads out as he has a package in the next town to pick up. The day fades away and finally Kyle and Rodrigo turn up. Rodrigo is in a grumpy-ass mood as he was hiking in the sun. I think the sun burns out the fun sometimes.
Sam and Cookie arrive. Then Chloe the third of the Rat Water Gang arrives having taken a few days off for a family event over east. Chicken fat arrives late.
There’s taco salad. It is goooood. There is more beer and cold drinks and icey poles. There is music, guitars, ukelele, singing, whistle, Irish dancing, laughing.
There are fun fun times. I feel peaceful and happy. I’m right where I belong. This trail attracts some good folk, I tell you.