Day 2: Hauser Creek, my favorite campsite
Nick and I slept really well our first night on the trail. We woke up around 6am and Nick started making breakfast. We introduced ourselves to our neighbors, Mary and Joey, since we got in too late to talk to them the previous night. They packed up pretty quickly and set off hiking for the day.
Nick and I set out hiking around 9am. We wanted to keep a slower pace because we didn’t physically prepare for the trail and didn’t want to hurt ourselves in the beginning of the hike. Many thru-hikers try to average around 20 miles per day. Some can handle that type of mileage, but others will burn themselves out or injury themselves. Nick and I were aiming for 6-10 miles a day to start. We started out strong and excited to hike! We made our favorite cold soak dish, pasta salad, for lunch. We met a social, bubbly, New Zealand thru-hiker named Gavin who was a joy to chat with. He was continuing on to the next town, Lake Morena, which was a little further than we planned to hike. The hike went pretty easy except for a fire road completely exposed in the hot sun. There were vultures flying around us, and I told them “not yet.”
We reached an idyllic, shady spot along Hauser Creek and set up camp around 2pm. We busted out our homemade, ultralight backpacking set. I went to filter water and wash my clothes, and I was enjoying the beauty and the solitude. In the late afternoon, we were joined in the campsite by Courtney. She was hiking section A (the first 109 miles from Campo to Warner Springs). We then met Blue Jay and Swift, who were on the first day of their hike and were filtering water at the creek. They were a couple who had both hiked the AT in 2021, and met on the trail! We talked about the AT a little and exchanged some stories on our interactions with the Boy Scouts on the trail. Nick and I were exhausted and went to sleep by 7:30pm.
Day 3: Lake Morena and so many flies
I woke up around 530am, and Nick was still sleeping. I could hear the stream running, the birds chirping, and a few frogs too! It was chilly but not too cold. I chatted up Courtney a bit more this morning and discussed her reasons for section hiking. She was still on the fence about whether or not she wanted to complete the entire section A. Nick and I packed up and set out hiking around 830am. We spent the better part of the day climbing up a mountain. Along the way we met Frank, another hiker that was aiming to complete section A. He was an older gentleman and told us that he had a “burger with his name on it, the Frank burger” waiting for him in Lake Morena. Nick and I were also really looking forward to the Lake Morena too. We had our hearts set on the Malt Shop and a yummy veggie burger. We started to descend toward Lake Morena and we were absolutely swarmed by flies! They preferred Nick, but I wasn’t spared. We moved fast in the descent toward town.
We walked down the road to the Malt Shop, and we saw Courtney video chatting with her family. We said hello and asked her if she would watch our bags. We went inside and ordered two veggie burgers at the counter. We also bought a watermelon drink, a beer, and a mango. The burgers came out and we devoured them. Frank arrived while we were eating. I hope he enjoyed his burger as much as we did.
We were about to get going when a man arrived at the Malt Shop on a commuter bicycle. He saw our packs and asked us if we were on a “very long hike.” We told him we were thru-hiking the trail and he proceeded to tell us how he attempted the AT several years ago. He decided about a week in that he didn’t like thru-hiking and quit a few weeks later, but he stayed close with the friends he met on the trail. Nick and I wanted to get going, so we picked up our bags and Nick told the man that it was nice talking to him. We walked away and started back toward the trail. A few minutes later, the same man biked up to us and started talking to us again! I couldn’t believe it.
We were low on water, but we knew there was some 1.5 miles up the trail so we headed out. Nick cracked his beer and started drinking it, since he wasn’t permitted to drink it at the Malt Shop. Just out of town we saw our first rattlesnake! I was leading and stopped right in my tracks. I said “rattlesnake” and slowly started to back up into Nick. He started to back up too. The snake slowly slithered across the path, and I saw its rattle. We gave the snake a wide berth when we passed.
The path to the water source was hot and exposed. It was the middle of the heat of the day, and I was struggling. Nick and I agreed that it was much easier to with little water, since water is so heavy, but it also would have been nice to have something to drink. We got to the water source and filled up. We continued on about 1.5 miles to beautiful campsite along a ridge. Unfortunately there were a ton of swarming flies, but they eventually calmed down, and we made dinner, prepared for bed, and slept.
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