Friday, June 18, 2010

Holy Naked Tortugas With Shades!

May 19: I woke up the next morning, flopping around, watching the sunrise, then heard Charmin stirring in her campsite. I remembered writing good morning in Swiss German, but couldn't remember what it was. I pulled out my journal, ripping velcro open to get at it. I could see Charmin looking at me, seemingly wondering what I was up to, and I flipped open my journal, read what I had written.... gwita morka, forming the sounds in my head. Then I looked up at her and said, "Gwita morka!"

She seemed to find this hilariously funny, but said it was pretty good. Not even a trace of an accent. Wow! I actually managed to say it fluently! Double points for me! =)

We packed up camp, then battled up the steep dune-like sands back up to the PCT and continued hiking. We didn't hike more than a few miles, however, before we reached hot springs on the PCT. The only hot springs directly on the trail, and even better, they were clothing optional hot springs.  I wanted to take a soak, naked. =)

When we got there, there were already two other hikers soaking in the springs naked, which was somewhat of a relief to me. Seems easier to undress when everyone else around is already naked. =) Charmin went up to lay out her stuff in the sun--condensation from the night before got a lot of her gear wet--which made me even more comfortable because I didn't really feel comfortable undressing in front of her. We'd only been hiking together for a day, but I felt like I knew her now. Better to get undressed around strangers, right?

In this case, the two strangers were Bigfoot and Stanimal. Abby Normal was also there, but he was fully clothed and sitting outside of the hot springs just chatting. I got naked, all except for the sunglasses (it was sunny and bright outside!), and really--walking around wearing nothing but sunglasses is just plain cool. =)

I didn't stick around in the closest pool very long--it was exposed to the sun and very hot--and was told that the bottom pool was still in the shade. There's a small drop to the bottom pool. Just a few feet, but I couldn't tell how deep the pool was just to jump in. Bigfoot did, however, and didn't seem to injure himself, so I followed suit and went completely underwater. That pool was deep! I paddled over to the edge, trying to find a shallow spot to sit on. That pool really isn't especially suited for sitting in--most of it is too deep to stand in much less sit in. But at least it was in the shade and a heck of a lot more comfortable as a result than the upper pool.

We soaked there for a half hour or so, before I decided that was enough and it was time to start hiking again. I scrambled up to the upper pool. Or rather, I tried to. That small drop was wet and slippery, and I was having trouble figuring out how to get up there. My first attempt, I slipped and fell back into the water with a tremendous splash. Bigfoot, who had spent the night there and clearly mastered the intricate moves necessary to get to the upper pool already, gave suggestions about where to step and grab onto the rock.

I finally got to the upper pool, where Charmin was talking to Abby Normal with her feet in the pool. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed she didn't want to join the naked hot spring club, but it wasn't much of a surprise either. She had already told me that she might get in, but that she'd definitely be wearing clothes. I thought Europeans were more.... well, European than that? =)

Charmin seemed to avoid looking in my direction, which was perfectly fine by me. She denies trying to glance at me, but I know I would have had our positions been reversed, so I'm not sure I believe her. =) She did, however, leave her camera behind, so at least there's no photographic evidence of my running around naked wearing nothing but sunglasses.

I got dressed again, and Charmin put her dried gear back in her pack, and we continued hiking.

We reached Mojave Dam, a large dam that seemed to be doing absolutely nothing. It was holding back no large bodies of water, and seemed like it was completed, then never used. A ghost dam. The trail actually crosses onto the spillway of the dam, then goes down the back side that was designed to hold back water. (Later, I would hear that the dams are for flood control purposes--not to actually create a reservoir of water.)

My guidebook mentions a Trail Ratz Bridge that crosses Deep Creek at the dam, but Charmin and I couldn't find it. We lost the trail in the dirt and dust at the bottom of the dam, and followed an assortment of footsteps wading across a shallow part of the creek, finding a shady location on a small 'island' in a smaller stream feeding into Deep Creek where we stopped for lunch.

Some day hikers passed us going up the creek, then about a half hour later came back down saying that the water was infested with leeches. Countless thousands of leeches! I'd never heard of leeches being in California. Maine, yes, I've seen them swimming around in the lakes of Maine, but California? Absurd!

Maybe they were leeches. They were definitely small, black things that hooked onto rocks in the creek. A lot of them, once the day hikers pointed it out to us. They seemed pretty small, though, and nothing like the leeches I'd seen in Maine. They reminded me more of very small tadpoles, the way they sometimes attach themselves to the bottom of a pool of water. Whatever they were, we didn't really feel like walking around them, but unfortunately, we had set up lunch right on an island in the middle of the creek. There really wasn't any way out without walking through them.

But they left us alone. *shrug* Who knows what those creatures were, but there are creatures in these waters. =)

We camped at a small flat area along the trail a few miles past Grass Valley Creek, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the train whistles all night long. We weren't exactly in civilization at this point, but we were certainly close enough to hear a lot of it, and those train whistles carry a long way. I find them rather nice to hear late at night.


Anonymous said...

No comments on this one yet? Ok, here you go:


Mariner Fan (heehee)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yes. California does have leeches, but they tend to be smaller and live off of fish, instead of mammals.
They might also been round worms, too.

When we lived in Rio Rancho, NM we were only about 5 miles from the tracks and loved the distant sound if the train at night.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers