Agua Dulce was just 10 miles from Acton, so I booked it in a little over three hours of hiking to arrive in time to chat/say goodbye to Loon, resupply, and consume vast amounts of pizza. In the pizza place an elderly local was going on about how “there are so many homosexual men on the PCT,” and how he’s really good at telling that kind of stuff. News to me, since I hadn’t met any openly gay male hikers in my month on the trail at that point. I just kind of stood there and stared in fascination at their bizarre, misinformed conversation while I filled up my water bottles. He didn’t notice me.
I waited until after dark to hike out of Agua Dulce, which was a big mistake. It was around an hour of roadwalking on a dangerous highway. It was the only time on the PCT I felt unsafe while hiking because of cars. I couldn’t camp on the highway shoulder, though, so I just trucked on and survived. I ended up setting up my tent in a semi-flat piece of land right next to the trail.
The next day was a mad dash to The Andersons, also known as Hippie Daycare. The Andersons live in a small town a couple miles off trail. As word on the trail pointed out, it’s also the same town where the green power ranger stabbed his roommate to death with a katana last year. Chuck Norris tried hitching while we got water, but had no luck. I think it was because he looked pretty scary. I wouldn’t pick up somebody who looks like he walked out of the movie American Sniper with a handkerchief covering his face up to his sunglasses. While he left to fill up his water bottle, I stuck out my thumb and had a ride for Wendy Bird, Chuck, and me within 5 seconds. Easiest hitch ever, and from a former PCT thru hiker!
When we stepped out of the stranger’s car at Hippie Daycare the dozen or so hikers gathered in the driveway started clapping. Tradition dictates you clap for every person who hitches a ride to the house, which I think is because it’s for some reason unnerving and perplexing all at once. Terry and Joe, a couple who open their backyard to hikers each summer, have a few rules at daycare. Everyone is required to wear a Hawaiian shirt at all times. Don’t feed their dogs nor the mountain lion that stalks the area. If you’re going to smoke something illegal, do it after sunset. And the final rule, according to Joe: “You don’t need Ten C ommandments. You just need one: don’t be a dick.”
I helped make taco salad that night, which Terry makes sure is made in vast enough quantities to feed all the hikers every night. I had three portions of it, and in the morning Joe made pancakes! It was heaven. I ended up liking it so much that I spent the night. I also ran into Popeye and Sass, the latter of whom informed me that day her name stood for “Sitting And Snacking”.
Hippie Daycare is known as being the biggest vortex on the PCT. I had planned on leaving at 6 the next morning but just barely managed to leave at 9:30, super late for a typical hiking day. It was hard to leave. Terry said her neighbor called her at 2am to let her know the mountain lion was back in the neighborhood. Terry told us, “I decided not to run through the forest of campsites and yell at 2am to watch out for the mountain lion.” We thanked her, but I thought it would’ve been funny. Like the guy who got lost at the kickoff event while going to the bathroom and started screaming for help.