Update came in through Marty today. She got a call from LauTrave and this is the information they shared. This post will have an interesting twist to it.
First, at the last stop, Agua Dulce (this would be about Mile 454), they met up with some of the people that started the same time they did. This would be the end of California D, page 12 and the start of section E.
Agua Dulce literally means “sweet water”. It’s a small town north of San Fernando, CA. It’s a smaller town with a population of a little over 3300. Yet it’s quite busy. It’s been a sight for moving making (think Flintstones here).
Curious friends have asked about human waste and the “leave no trace” (.org link) while hiking. Leave No Trace is a wilderness ethical standard where hikers or wilderness travelers visit the wilderness leaving minimal if no impact on the area they are visiting. I did some research to provide some links for additional information. You can take courses on this and even become an instructor. You can get a lot of information from Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
The basics involve principals for “Backcountry” and “Frontcountry”
- Plan ahead and prepare: poorly prepared people, when presented with unexpected situations, often resort to high-impact solutions that degrade the outdoors or put themselves at risk. Proper planning leads to less impact.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces: damage to land occurs when surface vegetation or communities of organisms are trampled beyond repair. The resulting barren area leads to unusable trails, campsites and soil erosion.
- Dispose of waste properly: though most trash and litter in the backcountry is not significant in terms of the long term ecological health of an area, it does rank high as a problem in the minds of many backcountry visitors. Trash and litter are primarily social impacts which can greatly detract from the naturalness of an area. Further, backcountry users create body waste and waste water which requires proper disposal according to Leave No Trace.
- Leave what you find: Leave No Trace directs people to minimize site alterations, such as digging tent trenches, hammering nails into trees, permanently clearing an area of rocks or twigs, and removing items.
- Minimize campfire impacts: because the naturalness of many areas has been degraded by overuse of fires, Leave No Trace teaches to seek alternatives to fires or use low-impact fires.
- Respect wildlife: minimizing impact on wildlife and ecosystems.
- Be considerate of other visitors: following hiking etiquette and maintaining quiet allows visitors to go through the wilderness with minimal impact on other users.
- Know before you go
- Stick to trails and camp overnight right
- Trash your trash and pick up poop
- Leave it as you find it
- Be careful with fire
- Keep wildlife wild
- Share our trails and manage your pet
This information is taken from Wikipedia.
LauTrav share that defecation is handled with “cat holes”. They dig a hole 8″ deep, 4″ wide. And replace the dirt when done. TP (aka toilet paper) is packed out as it takes so long to disintegrate. Trav said Lauren has two pieces of fabric attached to the pack. One for trail dust cleanup at day’s end. And the other for urinating, which is rinsed and air dried. We hope this answers some of the questions.
Night viewing has been spectacular a couple of nights. The biggest thing is getting used to the Big Dipper being upside down. That will change as they head north. The night skies, once you are outside of the city and get further away from the “light pollution”, are amazing! Here’s a picture of how it shifts:
And from NASA, their night sky looks like this:
The desert night skies in the Mojave can potentially look like this:
Lauren spotted three different kinds of snakes in one day. They are both seeing lots of lizards and some rabbits. They have been walking thru some interesting rock formations and the vegetation has been mainly scrub brushes. (You can see some of the formations from the pictures of Aqua Dulce). Here are some pictures of the creature they could encounter as they head into the Mojave Desert:
Today, May 20th, they enter the Mojave Desert and plan to start night hiking……start very early and hike until it’s too hot; take a nap; resume walking in the evening. Water will become gold as they can go miles between access to this very important resources. They will have almost 17 miles between water stops. Here are some pictures of the terrain they’ll be crossing:
If my map reading skills are any good, they left Hikertown, their last stop before entering 16 miles of desert. You will find this on the map on Section E Page 7.
I encourage everyone to check out the website for Hiker’s Town.
It’s quaint and full of great information! They provide the hikers amenities, free of charge. They do ask for donations whenever possible. Those us supporting hikers are also able to donate a few dollars to help continue their hospitality. We hope to have an update sooner than later just to know they are okay. Until the next update, take care.