Day 28: Agua Dulce to Camp outside Green Valley
Trail miles 454.5-471.3
May 30, 2019
After we’d packed up and climbed into her old diesel pickup, L-Rod (Donna Saufley) drove a group of us back to downtown Agua Dulce. We thanked her for her incomparable generosity and headed up Agua Dulce Canyon Road toward the distant hills.
The trail follows the road out of town for roughly three miles, and I walked with T-Pain, who, at one point, spotted a kangaroo rat hopping in the dust. “I told you they lived around here!” he shouted.
After weeks of cool weather, the promised heat finally arrived. I sweated my way up, up, up into the hills through small-leaved shrubs and prickly chaparral. But when I crested the ridge and crossed from the south-facing to the north-facing slopes of the mountains, the vegetation changed entirely. I descended to Bear Spring through shady oak groves, stopping to pick a few leaves of Miner’s Lettuce for a snack.
At the spring I found most of my friends, who had hiked out earlier than T-Pain and I had. They were in siesta mode, and again I found it difficult to sit still, though the shade and abundant water were enticing. I compromised by taking an hour break, eating lunch and filtering water while talking with Hot Hands and Bright Side before setting off again into the sun.
Shortly after leaving lunch, I was descending a sunny slope when I noticed a dark cylinder lying across the trail. I stopped short and realized the cylinder was a thick rattlesnake. It appeared not to see me, but I gave it ample time to glide into the bushes and then gave those bushes a wide berth as I made my way around them and down the trail.
The rest of the afternoon involved steep uphills on exposed slopes, and I utilized my sun umbrella for only the second time this trip. It proved an invaluable asset as I sweated my way up and over another major ridge towards Casa de Luna, another popular stop for hikers that is run by the Andersons (trail angels in Green Valley).
In the evening, I stumbled upon a few campsites nestled in some small trees. Eager for shade, I decided to set up camp and wrote until Spartan, the Danes, T-Pain, and Foot Juice showed up. The women in our group had camped a few miles away, so it was a night for the boys. We cooked dinner while making jokes and talking about the snow in the Sierra (a common theme, if you haven’t been following along).
It was a perfect evening for cowboy camping, except for the mosquitoes, who had made themselves known by humming around my ears and taking stabs at my legs during dinner. Danish, Hiccups, and T-Pain braved the onslaught, but I set up my tent and unzipped the rain fly for a view of the sky through the bug mesh, hoping for a rare night of undisturbed sleep.
My favorite edible plant on trail so far.
North-facing slope covered with trees
Campsite in the “enchanted forest”