Last night we camped next to a highway. You would think that we would wake to the sound of semi's an un-muffled cars, but instead we woke to:
A turkey. It woke us maybe three or four times last night. What a "treat" of nature. Rising early to the natural sounds of nature (read sounds of the turkey I will kill if I ever find), we broke camp as "Jackass" and "Molasses" passed us by. We were walking by seven, looking forward to a day of uphill climb; over 3000 feet, we climbedup onto the south side of the Laguna mountains.
The hike took us under interstate eight, and up Kitchen Creek. It was still early morning, so the heat was not bad, but another hiker at a later time could easily get frustrated by the sounds of water just far enough down hill to be unreachable. We left the creek at Kitchen Creek Rd., where a father was with his three year old son., wanting to try out the boys new backpack. The father sadly looked over my maps and concluded the distance to water was too far to walk with his son. Meanwhile the little boy ran around in a green dragon hat, spikes pointed slightly off to the left, probably questioning why his dad would think coming to the middle of a rocky hot desert was a "fun" idea. After a short chat we began our final ascent into the shady pines. Large red rocks lay scattered along the trail making our ascent tiresome on the feet, but the view down into Cameron Valley was the best view we have seen as of yet.
As we broke 5000 feet, we left the dense chaparral and chemise covered land. The sparsely populated manzanita gave way to a loose canopy of Jeffrey pine trees. The pine duff was a nice change from the standard rocky terrain we have "enjoyed" since the border. Shortly before reaching our camp for the night, we ran into three horseback PCT association members out doing trail maintainance. I try to always thank them when I see them, because we definitely notice a well kept trail from a deprived trail. It can get frustrating to walk for an hour with brush scraping your sunburned legs, or be climbing at a steady pace, only to have to slow down to navigate around a fallen tree. I have a hard time imagining the effort it took to make the trail, but I am very grateful. When we ran the marathon one and a half years ago, it was great to see thousands of people out supporting Lauren and I (and others) on our run; offering treats along the way. Similarly on the trail, I notice a well kept portion of the trail existing because of thousands of faceless bodies working the trail system to support my (and others) dreams.
We pulled into Burnt Ranch campground, which has had significant renovations since I was last here five years ago. We spent the evening there, eating most of our remaining food, as we only had two miles to walk in the morning for resupply. Just as we were getting finished with dinner, three more thru-hikers arrived and set up camp a little further down the road from us. After a quick chat regarding water, we found out that they are from Israel.
We are now going to sleep, free of highway noises, free of crack-cocaine induced turkey garblenarble's, but not free of screaming five year old kids, and glowing orange street lamps that come with drive up campsites. We don't mind though. We will be sleeping in.