Start – Acton KOA Mile 444 7am
End – Hiker Heaven Agua Dulce mile 454 12 pm
Miles – 10
Today I took what’s called a “Nero” – a near zero. It was a short hike day just to get to Hiker Heaven where I could finally do chores and resupply for the push to Tehachapi.
I woke up fairly early at the KOA because the noise from the nearby railroad tracks and Soledad Canyon Road were pretty consistent and loud all night. Definitely not a restful place to sleep, but I got a shower so I wasn’t too upset.
Right after setting out I crossed the railroad tracks and came across the monument to mark the competition of the trail. It’s basically just a standard benchmark on top of a short brick pillar. The trail was initiated in 1968, but wasn’t considered complete until 1993. Pretty amazing how folks did the trail before that point.
The hills north of Acton were pretty gentle and I saw my first deer before passing under Highway 14 and emerging immediately in the Vazquez Rocks County Park, which looks like you stepped through a portal into southern Utah or Arizona
After hiking through the park I came out into a county road and had to road walk about a mile into the community of Agua Dulce where a couple host hikers at their home, known as Hiker Heaven. Agua Dulce is an interesting area – incredibly rural but also very affluent. The “town” consists of one block with a grocery, two restaurants, a hardware store, veterinary clinic and real estate office. The rest is private ranches but really fancy ones. This is the type of place with cats up on blocks in the front yard. Instead it’s the place where ranches advertise that they can be rented for film shoots.
After getting a hitch in the back of a pickup for the 1.5 mile drive from town to Hiker Heaven, I was given a tour by a guy named Numbers who volunteers to live at Hiker Heaven along with about 6 others to help provide services to the hikers. This includes laundry, showers, mail (both incoming and outgoing) shuttles to REI in LA, weather & trail info, bathrooms, onsite camping and a place to watch TV and do real cooking. The owners completely turn their property over to hikers during the season, and don’t charge anything for the convenience.
I got an outfit of loaner clothes and dropped my entire wardrobe off to be cleaned (the volunteers actually do your laundry for you) and then headed back to town for lunch. Since the local grocery is so expensive, a group of us got a Lyft and went into Santa Clarita to go to the Walmart to resupply. After that we just made dinner and relaxed. The place holds a max of 50 people, and there were probably almost that many when I stayed. I recognized a good number from the trail so it was good to have some company.
A lot of folks were staying at Hiker Heaven for a couple days to relax, but I’m still feeling good so I decided to only stay he night. Luckily the free roaming chickens got me up pretty early the next day.