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Mile 109.5 (Warner Springs) to Mile 127.3 (Mike’s Place)
Went to sleep with the harmonies of frogs in the stream...Woke up to pouring rain and below freezing temps again...I packed up everything in my tent... as I listened to the pouring rain outside - I did not want to get up and pack up my tent and walk in this weather... it took a 10 minute self-pep talk for me to grow a pair and venture outside ... Tenderfoot had taken off about thirty minutes prior- but Gone-Zo was having the same issue as me.
I skipped the stuff sack and just crammed my soaking wet tent into the mesh pocket on the outside of my pack - my fingers were frozen regardless - and started hiking. Somehow, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I had mentally expected - sure my feet were wet and cold inside my shoes... my fingers had lost feeling before I even started hiking - and I was hauling what felt like an extra 20lbs of rainwater weight.... but I felt good - my body gelt stronger then I expected after the big day before... and sure enough the sky eventually parted and I began to warm up.
A few miles in I was crossing another meadow and two cows (yes cows!) were literally standing in the path... they would not move.. and while I am not afraid of cows (when I was little one of close friends in Louisiana, Sarah, lived pretty much on a dairy farm that we had to run through to get to the swimming hole)... I didn’t want to startle them ... and you know stranger danger and all of that... finally they began to separate and let me pass... As I walked on I had the feeling I was being followed ... turned around and the two cows from before had become a Gang of Four cows ... they stayed behind me in a straight line for a half a mile ... all the way to the gate where the cow party of 20 was taking place.. guess they were seeing me off their property..
Shortly after cowmagedden... The sun came out and I came across what looked like an abandoned ropes course and decided to finally have breakfast. It was the perfect spot to hang my stuff to dry on all the obstacles... there was even a picnic table to make my grits and coffee.
I moved on after about an hour... planning to only put in about 13 miles...as the day went on I began looking ahead at tentsites - and I came across tenderfoot and we decided to push to “mike’s place”, which would give me an over 18 mile day... I was feeling good at that point... but then the climbing started... and we kept climbing and climbing and climbing .. from 2200 to 5900 ... I stopped for lunch and Gone-zo caught up and joined me... I told him the plan and he was on board... now I was committed -Mike’s place or bust... the guys quickly left me in the dust... damn their long legs and strides I thought... I peddled along - and wound up leapfrogging with a new guy - Matthew. I realized I was taking way too many pack-off breaks (I categorize my breaks as quick catch my breath, pack off or shoes off)... it was 3pm and I had 8 miles to go ... 2 miles an hour with the climbs would put me there right a sunset... I put some music on for the first time that day and had a power hour.. I was not allowed to stop moving - no matter how slow.. I stopped and checked at 4 and holy cow I had covered 3 miles... another power hour it was ... at 5:20 I had just 1.2 miles to go.. climb, climb, climb... I made it right at 6pm... and when I walked up Scout and Andrea were there (who had left Julian two days before me). We had a reunion and I got my tent up... just before the “thunder snow” happened... yes it is a thing... hail, thunder and snow... it was wicked... and a wickedly cold night... there were about 20 tents and lots of familiar faces.
A note on “Mike’s Place”... we were literally miles and miles from civilization... you turn a corner and see the sign.. you walk up and honestly don’t know what to think .. except this place is sketch... the first thing you see is a large water tank for hikers ... then you come across a yard that resembles something from hoarders... and there is a house - who is owned by Mike, who apparently lives in the city and during hiking season a caretaker, Slim, oversees the house and grills hotdogs and burgers for hikers... provides the classiest of bathrooms (see pic above)... and all the cold beer and soda you could want... an oasis of sorts - I guess.