Beautiful friends in beautiful places

The fabeled Hiker Feed was indeed an event, but after meeting the trail angel host, Fruit Bowl, we learned the 18th annual dinner was beginning the following afternoon, well after the time we’d be passing the mile marker. Such is life. We had a lovely evening at mile 26 at Boulder Oak Campground for the night. It was a good place to camp as it offered some good protection from wind and rain under a big tree, as well as outhouses & running water. That evening we enjoyed friendly conversation around the campfire Kayleigh built with the other hikers who’d filtered in throughout the afternoon, along with Fruit Bowl (who’d brought some trail magic of hot cocoa mix, cinnamon whiskey, & fresh fruit).

After a bit of a windy night, the 4 of us, joined by Swiss Lucus, hiked out before most of the other 12 hikers had awoken. We played some games while hiking up in elevation to help pass the time. Our lunch break, though a bit later in the day than planned, was at a much appreciated break from the sun, near a very cold creek which brought us water and a cool bath for our feet. We all enjoyed the break quite thoroughly since we only had a few miles left to the town just ahead. We opted for an overnight camp site amoungst the Jeffery Pines about a mile outside of town. We enjoyed some dinner time entertainment with some pancake mayhem, then quickly retreated to our tents as the sun set. Down with the sun, up with the sun.

We made our way into the town of Mt. Laguna to enjoy some warm, tasty breakfast at Pine Lodge Cafe with some other hikers who had stayed in the town the night before. We checked out the general store for a few items to complement our food stashes to get us to the larger town of Julian for a bigger resupply. We also scored some great freebies in the hiker box in the general store.

[A hiker box is simply a box some businesses allow at their place where hikers can dump any gear or food they don’t need and other hikers can pick up any items they may need. For example, a previous hiker didn’t need a folded foam mattress pad, but 3 of our group were in desire for a sit pad, so we chopped up the sleep pad and now we have 3 sit pads. Kayleigh was hoping to get a pillow soon, and low and behold, someone else didn’t want their pillow. So, one hiker’s extra weight is another hiker’s desire!]

We set off back to the trail through the pine forests which soon gave way back to the open desert scene as we entered an area with beautiful sweeping valley views, but were paired with 30+ mph winds. It was a challenge to stop to take in the vistas without being blown sideways toward the cliff sides. We spent the remaining last few miles calculating just where our rest area would be and just how much wind protection would it have. Our campsite had just enough protection to survive the night without getting blown away, though our tent had a few rocks helping keep it secure.

The next morning brought more wind, a deep chill to the bone, and a dry water source ahead. My coworker friend from Alaska had commented that she lived in the town we were heading to, so we should meet up. That morning was a good opportunity to try to snag a bar of cell service at the top of the hill to see what Miss Olivia was up to that day.

What beautiful fortune shone down on us when not only did we get service, but she answered, she had the day off, AND she had a vehicle that could accommodate 6 stinky hikers! What a great day this was becoming! An hour later, we were all munching on apples, warming up in the car, zooming through the California countryside toward Ramona. We passed through the small mining town of Julian, but continued down to Ramona where we could resupply at a more afforable price. She chauffered us around town to purchase our first round of food resupply. The dollar store & local grocery store proved to be abundant in tasty & affordable options for the next 7 days of meals.

Our day at Olivia’s family home was full of productivity, crazy critters, and beautiful hospitality. We filled our bellies in the morning with substantial bagels and eggs which fueled us for our shopping, showering, laundry, and bag packing. We were able to visit with the baby ducks, guard turkey – Jake, hedgehog, chickens, doggies, and a shy kitty.

Dinner was a wonderful event provided by her family. Olivia cooked chicken in the oven, while Steven L. manned the chicken on the grill. We all sat with her family around the table, filled our bellies & enjoyed well-rounded conversation. We all slept very peacefully in the warm, spacious house, which was very welcomed after a few nights of cold, windy camping.

The next morning, we tried sleeping in as long as possible, but pretty much same as usually – awake with the sun, but not up til the birds are singing. After a slow morning of doing final pack checks, Olivia’s mom, Francie, cooked a gourmet breakfast to fill us up before setting out on trail. Since she’s on spring break from teaching, she offered to take us back to trail. But that wasn’t until a pit stop in Julian for the famous Mom’s pie! Cherry for Hulk & Apple Bosenberry for me!

With an upsurdly full belly, we were dropped off back on trail with warm hugs & cheery goodbyes. Thank you Olivia, Steven, Francie, and Roberto for hosting us!

(Many photos in this post courtesy of fellow hiker, Kayleigh Petrie. Thanks girly!)

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