MARCH 24, 2016 – AGUA DULCE (PCT road/town walk & 2 geocaches)

After finally admitting that it’s impossible for me to miss 5 months of work to thru hike the PCT I decided to day hike as many contiguous miles on it as I can, finding caches along the way. I went back to the innermost parking lot (all free) at Vasquez Rocks and walked to the same spot where I started southbound hikes. It was so close to the lot that I was able to turn my car alarm off and on from it.
032016_01_start
This time I hiked North, along the edge of the park where there were few people.
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But, of course, there was family playing with RC cars at the first cache. I kept hiking. Here’s a picture of the Star Trek themed container that I found there 4 hours later on my way back.
032016_02a_insignia
The well marked trail led to the park’s entrance/exit and continued East across the street.
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This extended rural road walk was a first for me. At this point traffic was light and I could hear approaching vehicles from a thousand feet away.
032016_04_westwalk
The trail turned right on Agua Dulce Boulevard through the middle of ‘downtown.’ This is the supermarket (L) and pizzaria (R) of PCT through hiker legend.
032016_05_market_pizza
Directly across the street…burgers! They serve cold drinks in Mason jars, very welcome for those who started their hiking day 11 miles away near Acton and for cachers who spent the day at Vasquez Rocks.
032016_06_burgers
On the same block there’s a liquor store and a not-yet-open restaurant. Sadly there are no geocaches.
032016_07_new
The PCT continues beyond the businesses. There’s more traffic and one potentially deadly stretch for hikers. I made sure no cars were approaching from behind and then ran through it.
032016_08_dangerous
Even though the trail is wider on the East side of the street there are some hard to walk sandy parts. On my way back I found that the narrower West side has less sand and is easier on the feet.
032016_09_sandy
At Sierra Highway the trail turned West and then North again.
032016_10_go_north
It was a relief to finally be completely away from pavement and hiking uphill toward a cache, even if the scenery still wasn’t so great. The upper hilltop in the picture is where I hiked (from the other side) in my February 29 post.
032016_11_unscenic
2-1/2 hours after my start I reached my destination cache, one that hadn’t been found in 3 years and 5 months. The Backpacker’s Cache (GCG5QG). I’d expected an ammo can but read on the log that the decon container I found was a replacement hidden more than 4 years ago. The decon didn’t look new but it was still completely intact. And the logbook looked like it was placed the day before even though it hadn’t seen the light of day since December 2012. I would’ve continued up the hill but there were no more caches.
032016_12_backpackers_cache
I sat for 5 minutes, turned around and did a reverse hike. The round trip distance, including some side hikes in the park, was 10.05 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes. The hike was mostly flat and slightly downhill going back. The temperature never breaking 70 and cool breeze made it even easier. The earliest Class of 2016 PCT thru hikers were still more than 200 trail miles South. By the time the main ‘herd’ arrives in May and June it’s going to be much hotter.

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