Day 40: Acton KOA to a few miles after Sierra Highway

Day 40: We woke at the Acton KOA by 7am, having slept poorly due to passing trains and raucacious hikers. We did left the KOA by noon, walking to Vasquez Rocks County Park (LA Couny).  We ate dinner in Agua Dulce, then walked another few miles out of town.

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May 28
Start location: Acton KOA at mile 444.3
End location: campsite at mile 458.3, lat/lon 34.53738, -118.30991
Miles hiked: 14

Hikers were up late partying. Trains were busy passing. Cars were zipping by on Soledad Canyon road. We slept _terribly_ last night. Around 7am, at the ridiculous, not-train-like sounds of a Merolink (commuter) train’s horn, we finally rolled out of bed.

We had to wait till 9am to do laundry, as the on-site facilities don’t open till then. We ate a breakfast of cereal and milk; we bought the milk the preceding night and left it outside in the cold overnight.

We ate “Tina’s” brand microwave burritos for lunch. They’re terrible. The KOA sells them for $1 each. Some popsicles were eaten, too.

As we left, we gave our leftover beer (RAGING ALCOHOLICS RIGHT HERE) to the KOA’s front desk clerk. We said it was for “putting up with hikers,” and she definitely appreciated it.

The KOA was weird. About 40% of the sites are occupied by RV’ers staying long term. There’s a lot of drinking, not just by thru-hikers, going on. The facilities are aging and, often-times, leaking. Towards the rear of the facility, along the access route used to enter the property from the PCT, is a fenced-in lot of RVs. About half appeared abandoned, with flat tires and broken windows. The rest looked like they were merely in storage.

The hike to Vasquez Rocks and Agua Dulce was unmemorable. Climbing up out of the area of Soledad Canyon road, we got views of desert hills and, obviously, the KOA. It was hot, at 86 degrees. We went three hours, from noon to 3pm, without any shade.

As we descended from the heights we’d just climbed to, Vasquez Rocks county view came into view. Except it was on the other side of SR-14. We walked parallel to SR-14 for nearly a mile, then walked under it through a drainage tunnel.

Just at the entrance of the tunnel, someone had graffitied “Yogi Killed Hiker Heaven,” in response to a recently-closed hostel (Hiker Heaven) in the area being overrun with hikers due to Yogi’s Guidebook.

The tunnel itself was, oddly, shaped like the PCT’s logo. It was the longest stretch of shade we had all day. This is a tunnel, mind you, not a bridge or underpass: the lanes of traffic on SR-14 were at least 60 feet above us. It was very dark in the center of the tunnel; there were no lights in it, obviously (drainage tunnel).

As soon as we exitted the other side of the tunnel, Vasquez Rocks came into view. We walked up a canyon of great geological formations. There were lots of signs labelling the flora of the area, and we took lots of reference photos (“ohhh, that’s a California Sage bush”).

Somewhere amidst all the picture taking and oooing and awwwing, we lost the PCT. The park isn’t big, probably a few football fields wide and tall, and any idiot could walk north out of the park to get to Agua Dulce, so we explored the park via day hiker’s trails. Like the PCT through the park, these trails were poorly signed. Our compass finally came in handy- who’d have guessed it’d be in a tiny county park? (That was, really, the first time we needed a compass on the PCT. Again, inside a tiny county park. #fail)

After Vasquez Rocks, you’re basically in Agua Dulce. We ate dinner there at the “Sweetwater Market.” Having eaten pizza for dinner the night prior, we wanted to eat healthy. A ceasar salad kit, a bag of grapes, an apple, salami, cheese, and half a gallon of whole milk were destroyed easily. Next came corn dogs and ice cream. Then more grapes.

Other hikers were milling about the area of the store as we ate dinner. We got to chatting with them. We were, like them, worried about an upcoming dry stretch of trail. Within I-shit-you-not the last 24 hours a spring, Bear Spring, 9 miles out of Agua Dulce went dry. This means we, and everyone else with us or behind us on the trail, have a 24 mile dry stretch of trail leaving Agua Dulce.

Wanting to take advantage of the cool weather, the group of us (now consisting of Arpy, Nordic Track, and Rat Water, all guys) left town together. We hiked about 4 more miles to our current location, arriving just around 8:30pm. We hadn’t left town till 7:15pm.

We made camp with them, and now it’s time for bed!

One comment

  • Ugh, that KOA sound atrocious! I’m glad we didn’t try to camp there. It sounds like the depressed economy has lead to folks used the KOA as a permanent or semi-permanent residence! This is not the type of KOA experience I had growing up, when the KOAs were always topnotch and spotlessly maintained. In any case, we enjoyed spending time with you in Tehachapi this week, and hope you have a great hike through Walker Pass. That area is really interesting; I think there is a resort camp down the road.

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