[pct-l] Hikertown- field report
paintyourwagonhikes at gmail.com
Tue Jun 5 13:54:52 CDT 2018
Paint Your Wagon here... my hike this year has been anything but average.
Delays leaving home caused me to depart Arizona, on May 10th, instead of
April 3rd, meaning- my hiking companions were already at Wrightwood,
instead of Campo. I met them Saturday, May 11th, in town, finding out that
one of the newest members of the tribe had an injury and suspected a bone
fracture in their foot, so I took the person to a Lancaster hospital for an
examination. The injury was diagnosed as an overuse injury, so rest over
several days at the KOA near Acton was decided upon.
Over the course of the next week, I provided trail magic using my vehicle
to take hikers to the REI in Northridge. Eventually, I chose to hike up the
mountain from Indian Canyon TH, on Soledad Canyon Road, nearest the KOA,
hiking to North Fork Station. I met my friends on their way down,
exchanging pleasantries, and then I chose to hike on up to the top and
spend the night at North Fork, while they continued down the trail to the
KOA. Later- it was another road trip to the REI, and then I was off on foot
to Agua Dulce. Having a vehicle, prompted me to have to hike back to the
KOA, and then motor to a primitive trailhead along Pine Canyon Road,
approximately 8 miles SOBO of Hikertown.
By this time, Hikertown was being populated by dozens of hikers per day,
and Bob, the long term caretaker, was present and looking for a temporary
replacement, so that he could get his truck and 5th wheel RV trailer road
ready for a gold prospecting trip. I arrived in time to help fulfill that
need, and spent about two weeks as a substitute caretaker at Hikertown.
My daily briefing for the hikers was repeated multiple times a day,
informing them of the opportunities and benefits to be had at Hikertown.
First and foremost, water locations were pointed out. Also, the fact that
the water was potable, and coming from the well, was made known, indicating
that filtering was not needed. Hikertown is set up somewhat like a western
movie set, with small prop buildings representing an 1800's town center, to
include a Sheriff's office, which contains 3 sinks, 2 toilets, and a
shower. Towels are provided, as well as shampoo and hand soap, for no
One of the more important prop buildings is the Post Office, containing, no
less than 50 packages at a time, and a $5 handling and storage fee is
charged, which is then used for supplies to do the laundry, clean the
buildings, and hand scrubbing of personal clothing. Also, western prop
buildings are offered up as shelter for $10 per night, to help offset the
costs for water, propane, and electricity on the property.
WiFi is available, along with an electronics charging station, and enough
buckets, pails, brushes, and soap, to hand wash one's clothes while on
site. A van assigned to the market and cafe, 4 miles away, made stops on
the hour. Also, there was a personally owned vehicle on the grounds that
the hikers could take to the store with some organizing among themselves.
The market hours are 7am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
The wind has been a constant companion, blowing round the clock, and the
temperature has recently soared, since the coastal marine layer dissipated.
Many hikers walk in early, beating the heat, and a few souls brave the heat
and hike in at the hottest part of the day.
Hikertown's owner is an investor in the Neenach Market, 4 miles east, and a
shuttle van driver makes hourly runs back and forth to the market, cafe,
and fuel pumps.
Shade is probably next in importance to the water at Hikertown, and hikers
invariably seek out a comfortable shady spot to lay over until the heat
breaks around 5-6pm.
Camping on the grounds is permitted, with the only rule- to stay away from
the owner's private residence, and to use common sense and stay out of the
A propane grill is available for use, and charcoal briquets can be had at
the market if the propane tank is depleted of fuel.
Phone reception seems to be working for most everyone, and if not, a hiker
will lend a hand and loan out their phone for use.
The next water and shade to be had NOBO, is a faucet at Cottonwood bridge,
17 miles E-NE. After that stop, in 7 miles is Tylerhorse Canyon, with water
and some shade under a large tree near a stream. 32 miles NOBO of
Hikertown, the trail enters forest covered land, providing shade over the
next 8-9 miles down to the trailhead at Willow Springs Rd.
A few observations stick out in my mind: the population of international
hikers seems to be dramatically up over past years, and the packs are
getting a lot smaller, and there are far more of them than there used to
be... most of the injuries that I saw were overuse inflicted, due to hikers
trying to keep up with other hikers, and because of this, not taking
sufficient time off to heal.
As the wise owl Evil Goat, my mentor- is fond of saying; rest is hiking too.
Final thoughts: the coastal marine layer seemed to be as robust and
consistent as ever, the overall hiker population was up but manageable, the
trail towns seemed to be at their best behavior and a noticeable embracing
of hikers was easily observed, hikers were overall polite, helpful and
pleasant, and stating the obvious here- many of them smelled terrible and
quite oblivious to their condition. One hiker referred to this common
malady as nose blind.
During my last night of stay, in sitting at the gathering table located on
a wooden and shaded deck, sans the decorative night lights, and with the
moon rising over the prop like buildings, a large winged bird appeared in
the air, back lit by the glowing moon. Making large and sweeping beats with
it's wings, the bird swooped into the largest tree on the property. From
this perch, the bird began making a lengthy sounding of screeches, in hopes
of (guessing) scaring a rodent out into the open, aiding in it's capture
and subsequent devouring. Apparently, and after many minutes of vocal work
that seemed to turn up nothing, the night grew quiet and the creature
(apparently) slipped away unnoticed. My best guess was that this was an owl
hunting mice or cats on the property.
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