The Bluff Wilderness Trail, https://wrweo.ca/wp/the-bluff-trail/, is a gem for enjoying wilderness so close to an urban area, in this case Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, Canada. My husband and I have hiked some or all the loops available several times; thank you to @toesalad and family for introducing it to us. April 23, 2017, was the earliest in the season we’ve hiked here, offering a different, more open view without the foliage. Very few hikers but a nice trek - logged close to 20KM.
April 24th- Day 3- 15.6 miles from Boulder Oaks Campground mile 26 to Mt. Laguna mile 41.3
Tommy set the alarm for 4:30 and I wake up to his flashlight and then everyone else's. I groan and dig around for mine and start packing up, shoving around my dirty ziplocs and extra clothes. I slept well. I head out with Farkle while everyone else is cooking warm breakfasts and cross two roads in the dark. Everything is chaparral with the moon in a crescent. We turn back and watch the cars going down the freeway towards a lightening horizon. How are there so many cars out in the middle of nowhere? I ask. Farkle has no idea. There is a splash of bright pink sunrise in the sky and we stop to take a snack. It's too light for headlamps now.
Alpo comes by and hops past us. We see him on the other side of the valley, walking fast. Kathleen joins Farkle and I and we head off while Karma and Tommy stop to break. We're high up on the side of a slope, dark green sweeping chaparral and windmills on a hazy ridge in the distance, hidden by mist and the rising bright sun. Farkle comes behind around the corners singing out loud. He has a beautiful voice and it makes me happy that he's singing. I assume he's singing to headphones because he knows the words and pauses and everything perfectly but I ask later and he's singing from memory.
The trail is cruiser and Kathleen and Farkle and I walk without stopping, on a roll. We stop and tell each other how ugly everything is. This is our life now, Kathleen says, laughing. Farkle falls behind because his knee hurts a bit and I look at my phone. 9:49. I look at my Guthooks App. Boulder Oaks is 9.9 miles back. I catch sight of Kathleen as we're rounding a bend and I shout, "10 by 10!" We cheer. Life is hard.
We start slowing down and feeling the miles in our feet. The last 2 miles to Mt. Laguna are hard and long. We enter a forest and the air is warm with pine scent. Farkle is hiking with us again and we hike the last mile together.
I catch sight of pavement and we stumble towards the bathroom. Then down to the restaurant. Alpo is there and we sit. Frittata and salad for me. We leave our packs and head to the outfitter, which is a dense awesome fire hazard maze of gear. Get some hand sanitizer and hot cheetos at the general store. Then back to get my pack and claim a spot at the campground. Everyone else is coming, there are so many hikers! Everyone at Mt. Laguna is sooo nice and hiker-friendly. I meet Vanessa aka Scissors as she's getting a shakedown outside of the outfitters.
The wind is very strong and the ground is pretty loose so I have a hard time getting my tent to stay up. We all hang out and walk to the general store again, then back again. Alpo guesses that I'm homeschooled and says he's surprised I'm good at social things. What? Whenever I tell people I'm homeschooled they generally give me a weird look and the conversation dies so I guess now I know how weird people think we are now. Ha. But look at them, they're in the exact same place as I am doing the same crazy thing as me, so who's talking?
I join a bunch of other hikers in the bathroom talking and charging our phones. I'm writing this in here in the warmth. It's 30 minutes to hiker midnight. My shins hurt from standing on the concrete here so I should probably leave!
April 23rd- Day 2- Mile 15.4(Hauser Creek) to Mile 26 (Boulder Oaks Campground).
Woke up at 5:30 ish and packed up in the dark with my red light, more red lights across camp. There is a spot near my head that looks like somebody pooped there with some TP buried.
I have my morning burst of energy and power up the beginning of the ridge before becoming normal again. The trail goes over one ridge and down into a small valley, then up again, the sun kissing the rocks on the top of the ridges. There are tons of cute little bunnies everywhere and I talk to them and call them bun-buns. They are spies for the snakes. Duh.
I go over the top of the second ridge and find my sunglasses to cut the glare from the sun. Then there's a bunch of flat and down to Lake Morena, where I might catch Rachel and Jono, and definitely get some food at the deli. The trail winds through a chaparral maze, green with vines with Maple-oid leaves and curling tendrils.
Lake Morena! I take a minute to read some signs posted for PCT hikers and then head into the Campground. The Wolverines of the PCT are there with trail magic bagels and fruit, hiker boxes and their infamous shakedown tent. I grab an orange, wave hi to Scout as he pulls up, and walk the .1 of a mile to the deli. I order potatoes and eggs, a salted caramel milkshake, and buy some Bugles. I sit outside to eat and talk with some locals.
Then I go back to the campground and take a shower, loiter around the Wolverines' campsites watching shakedowns, and charge my phone. With all of the service I've had, my power has gone down much faster than on the JMT. Then off I go! I quickly run into Rachel sitting by the side of the trail and we head off together.
There is finally Sagebrush and I am happy. It's 70 ish versus yesterday's 90 degrees so it's also much cooler. We reach the highway and I sit for a long time talking to everyone and listening. It's sandy and nice. There is graffiti on the bridge, mostly hiker names and dates, although there's also words scrawled in Spanish the column over. I meet my first non-AT thruhiker who's been given a trail name, Tarantino, who is filming a documentary. Then there's Alpo, an ATer, and everyone else. Everyone cheers when Rob comes in because he's super funny and awesome.
I finally pull myself away, cross some rocks over the first branch of Cottonwood Creek, only to have to walk through the second one. I scare a bunch of children who are walking down to visit the creek with my thru-hiker-ness. Homeless creep.
I make it to Boulder Oaks Campground and fill up my water at the spigot. It seems deserted, and when I walk down past a bunch of horse stalls I meet guys who say it's been shut down to motor campers because of an endangered frog they found nearby. Rachel and Jono, who has just accepted the trail name of Nirvana because he looks like Kurt Cobain apparently, walk by to head 2 miles further to Kitchen Creek Falls. There's a swimming hole that was reported on the Water Report copies we are carrying, but it's a month since it was reported. I can't decide whether or not I want to hike further, but in the end the private Campground with water spigots and tables is too much to pass up.
I set up camp with Arpo and the rest of his group. There is Farkle, Annie (who I think is taking the name Karma), Colleen, Kathleen, Tommy, and Alpo, who is our trail mom.
We play an intense game of Farkle (Alpo wins) and then head off to bed. We are all planning to wake up at 4:30 to night hike, and get to Mt. Laguna by the end of the day.