Hiking With Jason

Detached From Reality

Day 25: Nero at Casa de Luna

Day 25 – 5/16/16

Bouquet Canyon road Campsite 465.6 to Casa de Luna 478.2

Total miles: 12.6 + 2 mile road walk

I feel like I’m getting repetitive with the up by 5 and gone by 5:30. I need to figure out a better way to begin these posts. If only I had time to think about these things.

The day consisted of going up and over a couple mountains.  I felt pretty good today and had a good pace except for a few places uphill.

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After a couple hours we came across a sign with the times of the winners of the Leona Divide 50.  We added The Hobbits name since he is an ultramarathon runner.  We thought we were pretty clever.

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The next couple hours were the same. Skirting around green rolling hills. It started to get a bit hot once the sun rose up over the hills.

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Finally we rounded the mountain and I saw the road. What a beautiful sight! Getting to the road means only 2 more miles until Casa de Luna.  We walk down the mountain and come across a trail register.  We sign it and see that there is a cafe but it doesn’t say if it’s open Monday. Well here’s to hoping.

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The trail would cross the road and head up the other mountain but there was a fire a few years ago so a big chunk of the trails closed. We have a road walk of almost 20 miles once we leave Cass de Luna. This should be the last fire closure, unless Washington bursts into flames.

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We walk the two miles down the road which has a decent amount of room on the sides. The speed limit says 35 but people are doing well over 60.

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We reach the cafe and walk up and see a lady and maybe her son standing in the door. We ask if they are open and they say not today and that they are doing work on the building. She does offer us cold pizza though. We ask if there is any other place and she says no. Dang…

We walk across to the Green Valley Market which is just a gas station convenience store.  We drop our packs outside on a table and walk in. The ice cream freezer is right by the door and I grab an ice cream cookie sandwich. I walk around a bit and grab an can of iced tea and a ham and cheese sandwich.  We sit at the table outside and enjoy somewhat real food before heading the end extra 0.25 mile to Casa de Luna.

We walk up and we see people sitting on couches and chairs on the driveway. There is a crescent moon hanging from a large tree.  The entire drive way is shaded from the bright southern California sun.

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Now here is what I’ve heard about this place. Terri Anderson and her husband are trail angels that open their house and property to us smelly hikers. It’s known as the party stop and can get rambunctious. It is 24 miles from Hiker Heaven to Casa de Luna. This is where some people will attempt the 24 by 24 by 24 challenge. This is where you drink 24 beers in 24 miles in 24 hours. Absolute insanity. Terri used to wrestle hikers in oil or chocolate syrup. She no longer does this because of a bad knee.

We walk up to the driveway and Terri gives us a hug and asks for our name. She gives us the run down and the rules. In the back is a manzanita forest where you can set up a tent.  It’s awesome back there. Such a unique and beautiful place.  5 Star and I set up our tents and walk back to the front to get our Hawaiian shirts that are mandatory to wear.

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I pick a shirt and plop down on the couch. I charge my electronics and talk to some of the other hikers. I was worried it would be packed and crazy but there were only a handful of hikers and most were planning on leaving in a couple hours.

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The hours roll on and I only get up to get more soda or to vacate said soda.  I never drink soda at home. For some reason a Dr pepper always seems to hit the spot out here. As it gets closer to 4 I keep waiting for tens of hikers to roll in but only 10 or so more show up.

By dinner time there is maybe 20 hikers and they are all calm and just sitting around talking. There is maybe 5 hikers who are chain smoking cigarettes and weed and working through a 24 pack of beer. Three of them are pretty cool and they least sit at the end of the driveway and blow their smoke away from everyone.

Dinner is the iconic Casa de Luna taco salad. For 17 years they have made this every day during hiker season. Terri has strict rules for getting taco salad though. First you must wash your hands. Second, do not pile up your chips. They should be even on the plate so everything doesn’t fall off. Third, and most importantly, do not put your plate above the pots. If you violate rule 3 she will smack you in the butt with a yard stick.  Many people got smacked.

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While we were eating she told us one time these two guys show up right at dinner time and one of them kept breaking rule 3. After the third time he says “I can’t do this” and walks off. Terri asks someone else what that was about and they tell her the two guys dropped acid while hiking in. Crazy.

The taco salad was so good I went for a second big plate full. It definitely hit the spot. After dinner we all sit around talking more and it starts getting darker. 5 Star is in a food coma after dinner and decides to go set up his luxurious sleeping arrangements while it’s still somewhat light out. I’m pretty sure he was out by 7:30. A lot of others head back to the manzanita forest too and only half of the hikers are sitting out on the driveway on couches and chairs.  Terri tells more stories from past years and another hiker who hiked in 2011 talks about how different Casa de Luna is. He tells a story of how some hikers did Edward 40 hands, which involves having someone duct tape 40 Oz bottles of beer to each hand and can only be removed once both are finished. Well expecting semi-starving hikers to finish that much alcohol isn’t a good idea. They said people were off across the street holding their arms back and puking. One girl sitting in front of the fire projectile puked into the fire and put it out and got burns from the steam on her face.

Had to imagine all this when it was such a relaxing and quiet evening. I’m really enjoying it here and I hope tomorrow is just as relaxing although I expect a lot of people from Hiker Heaven to show up late in the evening.

Well, off to bed in the pitch black manzanita forest. Tomorrow morning there are pancakes! This place is amazing. No wonder they call it a vortex.

7 Comments

  1. Your face looks fuller”– are you “gaining” weight with all this good food? Enjoy your respite.

  2. Wow! Terri is tough!!! I’m assuming you minded the rules and didn’t get hit. She doesn’t allow you to hold your plate over the pots, but it’s ok to stick your somewhat clean hands into the bag of chips? What’s she worried about that will taint the food in the pots but not the chips? Love the manzanita forest. I bet you had your best sleep ever there. Happy to see you happy and relaxed (and the cord attached to your glasses).

    • Other stuff falling into the food. Cross contamination. I minded the rules and listened but others did not. Sleep was great. Definitely was the best so far in my tent. Woke up a couple times.

  3. Jeremy Gutierrez-Jensen

    May 18, 2016 at 7:51 am

    My favorite part in all this is all the trail angels. Such good people. Plus intensely amazing personalities. Also, taco salad.

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