Welcome to the Rock

Night two of night hiking was actually a very long road walking detour around the Powerhouse fire section of the trail. Twenty one miles of road walking, all the way to Hiker Town, which was rumored to be a strange place, but it was a sure source of water so we were headed there. The busy road leading away from Casa De Luna was not a fun place to walk, cars went whizzing by at high speeds and we walked as far over in the ditch as we could. Multiple people stopped to offer us a ride but we were stubborn and turned them all down. I felt pretty tired from the get go. I kept having unfair fantasies about the owners of the houses we were walking by coming out and inviting us inside to sleep on their couches. We called the ‘rents in order to pass some time.

Six miles in we went through a small “town” called Lake Hughes. There was a bar there called The Rock Inn and we had agreed ahead of time that if it was still open we would stop in for a drink and eat some snacks there. Even though the posted hours said it was closed it seemed very open when we arrived. A hundred or so twenty one year olds appeared to have taken it over, which was very strange because it really is in the middle of nowhere. Cameron went inside to assess the situation and came out looking puzzled, claiming he recognized someone inside. We ventured in, and sure enough, he knew not one but three people, all of whom he had gone to Gonzaga with. Talk about crazy. Basically everyone at the bar worked for the Painted Turtle, a camp we had passed a little while back and they were celebrating the end of orientation. Everyone was very interested in asking us about the trail, and someone said, “Well, welcome to the rock.” Which is another crazy coincidence considering we just watched The Rock, that terrible Nick Cage movie, and have been making jokes about it every since. We sat in the corner and sipped whiskey gingers and stared around, not quite grasping how strange the situation really was. After about an hour and a half we decided it was time to hit the road again and we headed back out into the cool night air.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful. We ended up on a quiet “mountain” road (I’m sure it was the same old desert but when you can’t see anything spaces take on utterly different feelings), where we didn’t see a single car for six or seven hours. We walked past houses that were dark, and everything took on a very apocalyptic feeling. The wind was ripping through the trees above us, but the road seemed to be down in a valley of sorts, so we only heard it. We stopped for breaks but skipped dinner because no one seemed to be hungry. We were tired but not like we had been the night before. When I started to feel a little woozy I got out the phone and switched on some music, which helped immensely. It was a road walk to be forgotten, but the whole time all we could think was: thank god we aren’t doing this in the heat of the day.

We got to Hiker Town at five in the morning and it was more of a ghost town than a hiker town. It really is a strange place. There is a main house but all around it are tiny little buildings that are styled after an old western town. Every one is labeled: hotel, town hall, doctor, feed store, saloon, etc. However, at this point most of them are filled with misshapen mattresses and when we arrived, passed out hikers. Chickens pecked around the yard and everywhere you looked, tents were blending in with the ramshackle landscape. No one was awake and so the place took on a bewitched feeling. We searched and searched for the bathroom but were unable to locate it. Finally we gave up and found a spot between some juniper trees and the backside of an RV that we figured would have good shade for most of the day. A strong wind was blowing through our tent and I was practically cold as I fell asleep. It was a rough day of sleeping. Our shade spot had mediocre shade and it was HOT. Cameron slept for nine hours while Kyle and I wandered around, dragging strange pillows over to lounge chairs and following the shade of one sad pine tree in the front yard. Other people were up now and sequestered around the property under other shade refuges. Piecing together a total of six hours of sleep the day seemed to take forever. Finally it was time to pack up and head out for a night of walking on the LA aqueduct.

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

3 thoughts on “Welcome to the Rock

  1. I really appreciate how down to earth your posts are. After doing the Appalachian trail, my husband and I like blogs that include the downs along with the ups. Thanks for taking the time to share your hike 🙂

  2. Thank you for another great read. I love following your journey. I love your writing. The night hiking comes across as very surreal. Is life a dream?

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