It is now official, everything in the desert is pointy and out to get a thru-hiker. Even innocuous looking green bushy plants will still stab you in the back when you turn around. After our long hike yesterday people were looking decidedly sleepy and tired this morning. This resulted in Nathan taking off up the wrong road five minutes into the trail. We only realized this when he finally caught up forty minutes later. The morning miles started with a long gradual ascent through rolling desert scrub. Cacti mixed with head high bushes dominated the landscape, with patches of bouldery outcrops. Coming onto the hidden Coyote Valley provided an oasis of green trees with a small stream running through. After multiple snack breaks we decided to aim for lunch at Paradise Cafe on highway 74, 15 miles from our camp site. This involved climbing around several mountains, including Table Mountain and Lookout Mountain. A higher altitude provided nice views of the surrounding countryside and the town of Anza. Along the way there were three snakes, of a species we have yet to identify, that were sunbathing across the trail. Eventually we had to nudge them on their way or else risk stepping on them. During the hike we crisscrossed with a Dutch women who is in love with NZ and a younger man named Austin. By 2 pm we had reached the highway and called for a free ride to the cafe down the road. Quickly taking stock of the menu we ordered a round of burgers and drinks, with Becky (rattles) following it up with tiramisu and a coffee mocha milkshake. Needless to say by the end of the meal she was feeling like her eyes were bigger then her stomach. With delightful service and restocked on calories we were very fortunate to be offered a ride back up to the trail. From there we had a very pleasant four mile hike through boulder outcrops in the setting sun. Finding what I think is the best campsite so far, we settled in, pitching our tent in recorded time while Nathan found several tree roots. Unable to eat dinner as we were still full, although Nathan still ate his, it was a very quick end to an easy relaxing day.
Miles hiked – 19
Total snakes seen – 10 plus
Burgers Nathan has eaten on trail – 3