Agua Dulce (Day 36)

Another 80 miles or so has brought us to 454, where we are staying at the Saufley residence – aptly nicknamed Hiker Heaven. I don’t know much about agua dulce, the town in which it is situated, but I know that the horse to human ratio is high here.

Very high.

We didn’t actually mean to zero here, but after one of our big days (a 25 miler) I pulled my right quadriceps. I managed to get another 22 miles or so out of it, but today it needed rest. We got in yesterday around 6 with our friend and companion hans pilgrim and headed straight for big mouth pizza. A couple of beers and way too much pizza later, we ambled down the road to our destination.

A few minutes later, a car rolled down it’s window and the woman inside started yelling at us: “HIKER TRASH! HIKER TRASH!” This, it turns out, was Donna Saufley – who was just playing around, of course. This was the woman who along with her husband hosted us most graciously in their backyard. She gave us directions to the gate, and told us where to find towels, etc. We were shower bound.

I shaved for the first time in roughly 40 days, and washed a truly substantial portion of dirt off my legs with the benefit of a stiff bristled brush. They put us up in the “honeymoon suite” where we crashed on a nice cushy bed.

The hike here was nice. We left wrightwood and got a ride to islip saddle trailhead from two guys about college age, one of which is a professional snowboarder. The first day, we went over mount Williamson and down to the burkhardt campground, up the burkhardt trail to where it rejoined the pct, and then up to cooper canyon trail camp. It was a short hiking day – we started around 4pm and only made it about 10 miles. Along the way, we met up with a new companion named Hans Pilgrim, who was trying to hitch up the highway to the campground but decided to go with us instead.

The next day we did 18 miles through some nasty stands of the dreaded poodle dog bush. Day 3 was rough – 25 miles, including a roughly 20 mile walk up old mt Gleason road along the poodle dog bush detour. It was very hot, very exposed, and rough on the feet. We made it up and over, and finished with a 5 or so mile walk down to north fork ranger station. The ranger there told us only 20% of people actually get poodle dog bush – a fact that we were all glad we hadn’t known, as it almost certainly would have pushed us toward not taking the detour.

Our final day we descended to the koa campground, where we ate ice cream, chips, and copious quantities of Gatorade while waiting for my leg to feel better. Once it did, we were off – up and over a ridge dotted with beautiful sandstone formations to where we could see our destination, agua dulce. This, incidentally, is also where we started fantasizing about our menu options.

We descended from the ridge and went under the highway through Vasquez rocks, which was the real live hideout of a real live Mexican bandit named Vasquez. One more short but steep climb and we were making our way into town proper, headed directly for beer and pizza.




Hans and Jean overlooking a sea of clouds


Poodle Dog


Sandstone beds

We’re in Agua Dulce now, ready to get back on the trail. Now that we’re in the 400’s and the miles are flying by, I’ve noticed that instead of keeping track of the mile or tens of miles, I’m now conscious of the hundreds of miles. I’m more in the hiking mindset – I can’t wait to get back on the trail. I’m feeling strong. My mind and body are settling into the hiking routine.
We made some solid miles between Wrightwood and Agua Dulce. 10 miles that first afternoon, setting up camp by dark. We ran into Hans Pilgrim who joined us on Route 2 after Wrightwood, and we ran into Paint Your Wagon washing his shorts in the stream who joined us in camp that night. The next morning we had a few hills to climb before the boyscout camp, and all tolled we did 17 miles that second day after Wrightwood – in full on Poodle Dog Bush territory. Day 3 we rocked 24 miles through the PDB detour – around the Station Fire detour, over pavement, up brutally paved Mount Gleason road, through more PDB, and eventually under the powerlines to set up camp at the North Fork Ranger Station/wonderful amazing water cache. The camp site was beautiful, the mountain air smelled sweet and clean, and we drifted off to sleep to the faint crackle of the powerlines. On Day 4 into Agua Dulce, we made 18 more miles: through the KOA campground where we fueled up on ice cream which powered us over the hill to Vasquez rocks and down into the town full of presumably Hollywood-famous horses and tasty pizza. We stayed in a cozy bed at the Saufleys after a shower and laundry, and met a few other hikers with large packs: Sea Turtle and Tortoise. The trail Angel IPod gave them a shakedown (or brutal gear thinning) where each lost 12 lbs of useless heavy gear. The next day Jared, Hans, and I zeroed while Jared rested his quad and Hans his ankle. We rode loaner bikes to town, ate Belgian waffles, organized food, sent a package ahead, got our own shakedown (we each lost 3 lbs!), and we opened lovely packages (thanks Nancy & Charlie, Renee, Mother Yanker, and Emily for the maple candy, gatorade, under wrap, marshmallows, magazines, and notes – we loved it all!). The next day – today – we’re just waiting to get pick up our laundry before getting back on the trail. It’s allowed us a little more time to relax (those “days off” for me are full of planning and doing) and chat with Paint Your Wagon about how he got onto the trail and how the trail has changed him and us. We could all agree that the trail has allowed us to chill out, calm down, accept the present, be in the moment, release out fears (be they snakes or lack of food), be more centered, and have more gratitude. And we hike!

400, bitches!


Boyscout camp. Thanks for the water, boys!


Can’t get enough of these sunsets


Jared and Hans. On the PDB detour


Lovely road walk, lined with PDB


Wrinkly, crinkly hills


Sandy campsite, water cache, no more PDB



Chunk o’ sandstone hanging above the trail


Loving our 1000 packages we had waiting for us at the Saufleys


A tremendous pile of goods


Thanks Renee!


Thanks N&C!


Jared “New Man” Kofron, sans hiker beard


Good old Paint Your Wagon


Hiker Heaven


5 thoughts on “Agua Dulce (Day 36)

  1. Hey your cousin in Az !
    What you are doing is phenomenal !
    Awesome job brother, open invitation to my and my wife Laura’s
    Home and I have plenty of showers, beer and pizza ! Great Job bro,
    Way to live life and not just watch it pass . . . . Good luck . . .

  2. Hi you two; I havent commented in a while but I have been following your trek. Great to hear your shins are better young lady! l am using the maps from the website you listed to compare to your path and get familiar with the land marks you talk about. You have put together a great site btw. In the last 25 yrs I have hiked all over So. Cal and never paid any attention to Poodle Bush before. It is strange how you’ve brought it to my attention with your little walk about. Im sure I have seen it but never knew it’s potential. Poison Oak in the bush that does me in. I was curious why you dumped the clogs and didn’t just get shower shoes at one of your stops. I guess you have become attached to your own creations. LOL I have more questions about gear and pack wieghts but I will put that in another time. I am putting together a package for your stop in Independence. Is there anything you need on a regular basis that I can restock you with? Drinks, candy, food, dried goods, $$, ??? Let me know. I hope you have continued good health and great memories along the trail. Paul Burrows Temecula CA

    1. Hi Paul, were so happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog. The crocs got dumped for homemade shoes for a few reasons – time was available to make them because of the injury, the homemade version was lighter than any shower shoes we saw, the homemade version was free, and they don’t give you a toe wedgie with socks. That said, lots of people wear shower shoes/flip flops or ditch the camp shoe altogether. Happy to answer any more questions you may have. That’s very nice thanks for sending us a package – we can’t think of anything specific we’re craving…maybe a couple non caffeinated tea bags? Or packets of protein powder? Nothing too heavy unless we can can consume it right away. We appreciate the support, good luck with the planning, and watch out for that PDB!

  3. Hi you youngsters!! Wow you two are certianly having an adventure. In the past 30 yrs I have hiked all over So Cal. I never really noticed PDB until you two have been talking about it. Your little walk about has been an education for me also. Lol. I bought those maps from the link on your website and have been following you with them. You put together an awesome site!! Id like to send you a care package and want to know is there any regular items you need restocked? Jerky, drinks, dried foods, candy, $$$, or????? Im thinking of getting it to the Indepence drop. Let me know. So good hiking and I wish you the best of adventure! Great job! April 2016! Paul

  4. Great stuff gal and guy… Seriously looks like you are having an amazing adventure. You are making incredible time too, nice job. Keep up the post and pictures!

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