Day 31: Race For Taco Salad

May 18, 2017

Total miles: 23.7 miles 

Start: Hiker Heaven (mile 454.5)

End: Case de Luna (mile 478.2)

Total elevation gain/loss: 4797.6/3936.7ft

Today’s goal ended up revolving around getting from one trail angel’s home to another’s so that we could end our day with the famous taco salad at Case de Luna. This would mean a 24-mile day over a segment known for being hot and dry. We’d need to leave super early.

Michael didn’t want to leave the puppy behind.

Of course, those plans didn’t quite pan out. We didn’t want to leave before Donna was up because we wanted to personally give her our thanks and we might have hit the snooze button a few extra times. Between that and a couple last minute blog uploads since the internet was running smoothly in the morning, we didn’t get out until about 7:30.  It’s really amazing how many hikers the Saufleys assist each year — it’s quite an operation and such an asset to the PCT community.   Thank you so much!

We quickly caught a hitch back to the road/PCT after leaving Hiker Heaven. We made a quick stop at the hardware store to pick up earplugs at the hardware store and we were good to go.

Why is the body of an airplane out there?


Today’s walking began with more road walking, then with a big climb into the hills. The question on everyone’s mind this morning was “what time is taco salad at Casa de Luna?” No one knew the answer and no one wanted to arrive too late for dinner!

Not a rattlesnake, but still gave me a bit of a fright as I raced toward it.

Our first (and we mistakenly thought our only) water source for the morning was a piped spring about 9 miles into the day. When we got there, we ran into a couple guys doing the 24x24x24 challenge. The challenge is one of the mythical challenges of the PCT.  In a 24-hour period, hikers try to hike 24 miles… and drink 24 beers.  Craziness in my opinion, and judging from how the guys were looking, it wasn’t going too well for them either.

Water! Easy to get and nice and cold.

We stopped for lunch a few miles later under tree near a road. There was a small water cache there, but mainly it was just a lot of trash that was left. This is one of the unfortunate side-effects of some of the caches.

Water cache trash.

After lunch was another big climb. We passed several small streams of water that we weren’t expecting and were able to pick up more water to supplement what we got at the spring. Yay for hydration!

We didn’t see too many people this afternoon, which was surprising since there were so many people at Hiker Heaven last night and one of the trail registers indicated that a lot of people were in front of us today. We finally ran into a group of hikers at the memorial bench, including Mike and Kimi from Alaska (last seen on day 24 at El Cajon Pass) and the guys from the 24x24x24 challenge (only one going strong at that point). With 6 miles left to go it was already 3:45 — we needed to hurry!

First shovel trail sign I’ve seen so far!

We sped through the remaining miles. I was feeling pretty strong today, so I even ran a bit on some of the downhills. Taco salad is a strong motivation!  

We hit the road at 5:30. Unfortunately, all of the traffic was going the other way and no one was stopping for us. We started to road walk the 2 miles to Casa de Luna (again, taco salad), but a little down the road we caught a ride… with the volunteer sherrif’s department! They were a nice elderly pair that mainly focus on checking in on the schools and people’s homes while they’re on vacation. We made quite an impression rolling up to Casa de Luna in a sheriff’s car!

Casa de Luna was much calmer than I expected it to be. It has a reputation of being a party stop, encouraged on by trail angels Donna and Joe Anderson. I think it just felt more relaxed because there were far fewer people here than at Hiker Heaven. Also, turns out taco salad doesn’t start until 7pm. We made it!!

We were given a quick tour by Little Step, including a stop at the rack of Hawaiian shirts that are mandatory for all hikers. The manzanita grove at the back of the Anderson’s property was impressive. It went on forever with lots of purpose-built camping spots. We picked a spot way up the the hill to ensure a quiet night — it was like having a private camp spot!

Heading into the manzanita grove.
As soon as we set up camp we headed back to the front of the house for beer and taco salad. Avo, Gabs, Kelsey, and Travis had just shown up! When dinner time rolled around, Terrie came out with instructions — and a wooden ruler to enforce them! Hikers who accidentally put their plate over the food received a quick slap on the ass 😉

Taco salad time. Yum!

Taco salad lived up to all that I’d been hoping for throughout the day. Chips, refried beans, nacho cheese, and lots of sour cream!

Gabs found a wedding dress in with all of the Hawaiian shirts!

After dinner was party time. Hikers were encouraged to dance for their commemorative 2017 PCT bandana. We hung out for awhile (and did our obligatory dancing), but then opted to turn in for the night. Once again, I’m exhausted tonight!

We’ve decided to get a more leisurely start tomorrow so that we can have pancakes in the morning before heading out. The allure of sleeping in didn’t hurt!

Current ailments:

Elizabeth: some chafing, but otherwise okay.

Michael: none.

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