Day 25: Godforsaken ridge above Acton to stealth camp near Acton KOA
Trail miles 424.3-444.3
May 27, 2019
I opened my eyes to the sound of my 5:30 alarm. My breath fogged and hung in the still air between my tent walls, which glistened with beads of ice. Curling deeper into my quilt, I closed my eyes against the gray light.
An hour later, I peeled back the frozen door of my tent and peered upward at a blue sky. The sun had climbed over the ridge and was beginning to defrost our frozen camp. Reluctantly, I jammed my feet into my frosty shoes and walked down the hill in search of a place to dig a hole.
When I returned, I could hear T-Pain rustling his gear behind the cuben fiber walls of his tent. I poured some of my water, chunky with ice crystals, into my pot and lit my stove for some hot chocolate.
In the meantime, I packed my things, taking breaks from stuffing wet gear into my pack to warm my fingers on my neck or under my arms.
The previous night I had gone to bed without cooking dinner, opting to eat snacks instead, in order to avoid the hassle of cooking in my tent vestibule. Now I was ravenous. I finally left camp at 9am after devouring a bag of chex mix, a few heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter, and a quarter pound of salami.
The morning dragged on at an agonizing pace. I was tired from the previous day, but I took comfort in the good weather and in the gorgeous views surrounding me. Now that the storm had passed, vistas of distant mountains and low desert presented themselves at every turn.
I ran into Fire Socks, Bright Side and the Danes at a fire station. There, for a two dollar donation to the fire crew, we were treated to a hot dog, a bag of chips, a can of soda, and, the true highlight: a fresh, crunchy carrot.
I set up my tent so that it could dry out from the previous night, then sat on the asphalt driveway outside the station enjoying my first real hot dog lunch since grade school.
The final few miles of the day were all downhill, but I was so tired that I felt I had to drag myself down the trail. My pace was slowed further by the stunning scenery. As a layer of cotton ball clouds moved across the sky, it dappled the evening light across the mountainsides, highlighting rock outcrops and casting ridges and deep drainages into stark relief.
I finally caught up to the Danes, AK and Spartan at a stealth camping spot half a mile from the KOA. The Danes had already set up their tent, but had then decided to cowboy camp and were letting it stand empty until morning. When I struggled to find a clear spot to set up my tent, they offered to let me sleep inside theirs.
I gladly accepted the offer and was preparing myself for bed when T-Pain, true to form, arrived in the gathering darkness.
We all cheered, and he quickly accepted the Danes’ offer to sleep in their tent with me.
We drifted off, thinking about the walk through Vasquez Rocks to Hiker Heaven the following day.
The view from our campsite. The night before, our site was totally socked in.
Some residual snow near the top of the ridge
Abstract art or moss and lichen?
Some creative shade