It was really quite cold when I got out of bed. I had on every last bit of clothing. I decided to take a walk to the Sunrise Trailhead (because of the privy there) and back before starting my pack-up in hopes that the sun would reach it by the time I started. The walk was about half a mile each way, and I got back around an hour later. I got on the trail by 9am.
A little bit afternoon, I reached a very popular high traffic trailhead where the trail went along the edge of a cliff. Some climbers were top-roping the cliff when I went by. There was also a rock that served as a memorial to a dozen people and animals in a way that just seemed like anyone who wanted to could stick pictures and plaques on it. There was no indication that they had anything in common with each other.
Just beyond that was a picnic area. I dropped my stuff at the sunniest picnic table I could find and went to collect some water from the nearby tapped tank. I had lunch while it filtered and watched some other day visitors and their cute dogs. But the cold Santa Ana winds were picking up again, so I was soon eager to get going.
I passed a group just beyond here that recognized me as a long-distance hiker and asked if I was finishing. I said I was taking a break off trail that night. Then they told me that the whole state was shutting down again at midnight, making all backpacking illegal period. “But who’s gonna be checking anyway?” Well, folks, thanks for making it impossible for me to honestly say I didn’t know if someone did stop me.
The sun seemed to set slowly as I approached the source of the helicopters I’d been seeing the past four or five nights—the Mt. Laguna Air Force Station. I couldn’t see it from the trail, but there were signs and indications it was near.
I missed my turnoff in the dark, but I spotted the next one that happened to be closer to my destination anyway. So I walked through the closed and empty Burnt Rancheria Campground and came up alongside the fence enclosing the compound that was my final destination for the evening: the Mt. Laguna Tiny House Block.
I had reserved tiny house #8 “Flower Fun” for the night, mainly because it was the cheapest available. I dropped my stuff in the middle of the floor and immediately went to the nearby restaurant, currently in the process of closing, to get some quarters for the laundromat. As I was coming back from that, I saw one of the proprietors, I suppose, opening the private laundry room to wash some towels or something and convinced her to give me a Tide pod. With this in hand, I went back to my tiny house and took off all my clothes, then put on only my jacket and snow pants. Everything else I carried to the public laundry and set to washing.
Next to the washer was a large sink with several pans. Since I had an electric stove in my tiny house main room but no pans, I snatched one and took it back to my room with me. At this point, I set my last Mahatma Spanish Rice cooking on the stove. It was early enough that I didn’t mind that it would take longer to cook since I hadn’t soaked it, and I had unlimited water, so it didn’t matter that it would require more water. And most importantly, I didn’t want to have to use it out on the trail.
While it got started cooking, I went to take a shower. When I turned it on, it started spraying water over the top of the curtain and all over everything, so I turned it off and quickly tossed my clothes out into the main room to keep them dry. With a little bit of futzing with the joint where the showerhead met the pipe, I got the spraying to stop and started showering.
I was half-covered with soap when the water went cold. Apparently, the water heater only held enough for a five minute shower. There was no warning for this anywhere, and I was far dirtier than one could expect to scrub off in five minutes. I soaped and scrubbed with the water off, then braved a cold rinse to finish it. Thank goodness there were some really good heaters in the main room.
A downside of the house’s design was the huge window in the front door with no curtain to cover it and no hook to hang anything in front of it either. In order to get to my clothes, I had to step out into the room naked where my birthday suit would be visible through 160 degrees of the area in front of the house. I dashed out and turned the light off before getting dressed.
The rice was still crunchy, so I added more water and then went back out to brave the cold on the way to the laundry room to start my load drying. The Santa Anas were picking up again, and they cut right through my warm winter coat.
While those dried, I called home. My mom had decided on a last minute trip to meet me in Campo and walk to the border and wanted some ideas for how to finish out the following week before going home. Once that call was finished, the rice was finally in an edible state, so I ate. One last trip into the cold to bring back my laundry, and I was done for the night. Off to bed with me, saving all the clean-up chores for the morning.
Total distance: 18 miles
Trail progress: 17 miles