Long Trails

A Night in Hiker Heaven

Our Pacific Crest Trail correspondent visits two of the route's most legendary trail angels.

After a harrowing day yesterday dodging poodle dog bush, dealing with brutally sunny skies, and dragging my feet across talus, I’ve finally made it into Agua Dulce, home of the Saufleys and Hiker Heaven. Most hikers stop at this legendary trail angel spot, if not stay a night or two. There’s laundry and loaner clothes to wear while laundry is being done, not to mention shade, blessed shade. With sodas for sale and a charging station and wifi, what else could a hiker want? The Saufleys—and trail angels like them—are gods among men, letting us dirty, often-limping creatures into their lives. Hikers are unbelievably lucky that such kind people exist; without them, the trail would be a lot more lonely.

This stretch in particular is pretty social. Lots of folks climb Mount Baden-Powell together just outside of Wrightwood. Just 24 miles after Agua Dulce is Green Valley—not exactly a resupply spot, but a place most people stop to relax nonetheless. I’ve met a lot of new folks in the last week, and also seen a lot of familiar faces, including some I left behind 250 miles ago.

I’m currently in a mix of people who started both before and after me. The trail is fickle like that—you find and you lose people, over and over again. That’s also the cool part about it, though. You may not hike shoulder-to-shoulder with your buddies, but you all cover the same terrain and see the same amazing views.

I have a care package coming that may or may not come today, so I’ll be “forced” to stay at least one night here in Heaven. I’m looking forward to taking a load off and gathering around the fire with the other hikers, swapping stories and laughter, and sharing information on the trail ahead. And, hopefully, tomorrow it’s onward, getting on up the trail—though taking a little time off for an in-town breakfast with friends couldn’t hurt.