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Begins: Apr 1, 2008
Date: Sun, May 1st, 2005
Start: Oak Grove beyond Yellow Jacket Spring
End: Walker Pass
Daily Distance: 11.4
Trip Distance: 978.1
Entry Visits: 384
Journal Visits: 69,239
Guestbook Views: 3,645
Guestbook Entrys: 9
34 Oak Grove to Walker Pass
The next morning, we probably had ten or so miles to hike before meeting Donna Saufley at Walker Pass and we thought had plenty of time to get there. Unfortunately, we missed a turn just before McIver’s Cabin and ended up going about 5 miles out of our way. We spent 2 ½ hours looking for the right way to go. It was a dumb mistake on our part. We compounded our mistake by asking a bunch of bikers at McIvers cabin and they good-naturedly suggested a shortcut, which ended up taking us even further out of the way.
By the time we got ourselves sorted out, it was evident that we would need to walk really fast to catch up and Dennis’ shin splint was beginning to trouble him again (he’d started to have some trouble a couple of days earlier). Kerry elected to walk and jog on ahead with Cody while Dennis and I kept on at our regular pace. As we were coming down toward Walker Pass, we met Monty Tam, who had contacted me on the listserve prior to the hike and knew that we would be on this stretch of trail at the same time. He apparently had delayed his start due to the storms, and I gave him the water information we had and wished him well on the trip that he was starting and that we were ending.
We met Kerry coming back up the trail, he had met up with Donna and happily, Dennis and I were not too far behind. Donna was picking up two other hikers that she had arranged to meet at the same time. While waiting for us she had driven to Onyx and returned with a flat of strawberries. We sat and munched on them while we drove back to Agua Dulce. At Donna’s home we saw Healer again. He was staying in the back bedroom of the trailer. He was quite strange. He helped Dennis, by massaging the shin splint but he told us tales of his travels on the AT where he thought people should treat him with deference because he could “heal” them. He told us about going to one of the AT shelters which was full and people would not let him in, so he refused to treat them after that. I think I understood his attitude but I thought it funny that he would tell us about it.
To celebrate the end of our hike, we took Donna and Jeff to Bonita Maria’s as promised and heard the story of how they got started as Pacific Crest Trail Angels.
Back in 1996 or 7, Donna had heard of the Pacific Crest Trail, had read a National Geographic story about it and discovered that it ran a mile from her house. One evening, Jeff had gone somewhere (a bachelor party?) overnight and Donna left to herself, had ended up at the local pizza parlor. There she encountered some rather filthy hikers who asked her if she could steer them to a nearby motel. As she started to tell them where it was (maybe five miles away) she realized they were on foot and couldn’t get there in short order anyway. Impulsively, she invited them to stay at the trailer on her property. Much later she realized that she had been “yogi-ed”, a term hikers use to describe the kind of generosity hikers generate from complete strangers who end up helping them with food, showers, overnights and a variety of other needs. The term is an affectionate reference to the cartoon character, Yogi Bear who preys on unsuspecting tourists in Yellowstone Park.
The hikers, three or four men and at least one girl ended up going home with her, and Trail Angel, Donna Saufley was born. That night she confessed to locking all the doors and windows to the house, just in case one of them turned out to be an axe murderer (she didn’t say it like that) and settled down to sleep. Meanwhile, husband Jeff decided to come home. Arriving in the wee hours of the morning and finding all the doors locked tight, he assumed that Donna was just being careful and repaired to the trailer to sleep. Opening the door, he soon tripped over the various bodies draped around the room, which scared him half to death, but not before he scared the sleeping hikers in turn. I can imagine the scene that ensued before Jeff realized what Donna had done or the hikers realized that he was Donna’s husband and not an axe murderer in his own right.
After that experience, one thing lead to another and Donna told us that now they have as many as fifty people sleeping on their lawn at the highest point of thru hiker season. The Saufleys are impressive people, amazingly kind and generous and a real gift to hikers. I feel privileged to have benefitted from their generosity.The next day we returned to Oakland, sad to leave the trail, but hopeful about returning soon.
Confessions Of A Serial Hiker
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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