Tengo Hambre on the trail

Going where the wind don't blow so strange

Day 11, Mike’s Place to Mary’s Place

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The wind blew all night long. With it came occasional bursts of rain.

When I looked outside my tent in the morning it was hard for me to tell if it was still raining or if clouds had settled down upon us at Mike’s Place. Then I looked across 100 yards toward the house.

What the...? Was that a tail on the guy who just walked by?

Weather Misty, windy morning, then clearing to partly cloudy; gradually warming to upper 60s
Trail Conditions Many gradual ups and downs, some with rocks
Today's Miles 18.5 miles
Trip Miles 145.4 miles

After I emerged from my tent I walked to the house and found MJ. She told me Strange Bird had arrived last night after I had gone to bed. And yes, he was wearing a tail.

Now I understood the “strange” part of his name, but why was it “Strange Bird?”

Tengo talks to Strange Bird

When I had an opportunity to talk to him, I discovered that Strange Bird was intelligent and engaging. Except for the tail, he didn’t seem strange at all.

He said he likes to wear it in public, mostly for the reaction it gets. But also, it was his way of hiding his anxieties.

Strange Bird had hiked the Pacific Crest Trail a few years ago and got his name from a shirt he wore. He said he designed it so that when he raised his arms, they looked like wings of a large bird.

Now the picture was becoming more clear.

Strange Bird with his tail on his shouder

As we talked, he wore the tail slung over his shoulder. That seemed to be a practical way to keep it out of the way.

Strange Bird with his tail out

Strange Bird told us about Mike’s Place. He explained the property was surrounded by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The state had tried to purchase Mike’s land to fill in the missing block, but he refused to sell it.

Mike was an heir to a tortilla machine company, and used the property to get away from the city. He allowed Strange Bird to live there for free in exchange for keeping an eye on the place.

Breakfast at Mike's Place

Strange Bird said he had gone into town yesterday to buy food for our breakfast. A kitchen was set up in one of the sheds, and it was available for hikers. Pizzas are often made in the evening, but we missed out on that last night because Strange Bird wasn't here.

Bookworm cooked breakfast and a few other hikers pitched in to help. We ate breakfast burritos, pancakes and bacon.

I made sure to put some money in a donation jar. It was a big breakfast and a good way to warm up on this blustery, wet morning.

Low clouds

Clouds were still hanging low as I left Mike’s Place and entered the state park. Though not exactly raining, the air was still damp enough to wear my rain jacket.

The PCT begins to climb

As the trail began to climb the side of Bucksnort Mountain, the sun tried to push away the low clouds. They were stubborn, though, and hung around more than an hour longer.

No one is sure how the mountain got its name, but it’s speculated that deer hunters named it.

More clouds over Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The higher I went the thicker the clouds became.

The trail went as high as 5,600 feet near Combs Peak, but did not go over the summit, which was at 6,193 feet in elevation.

Combs Peak is the highest point in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the eighth highest point in San Diego County. It is named for Jim Combs, a miner who operated a camp nearby in the 1890s.

Clearing sky

Finally, the clouds began to lift at 9:30 a.m. I could see northeast of the trail the Santa Rosa Mountains and Toro Peak.

When I stopped for a snack, I saw several of my friends hiking in the distance.

The Pacific Crest Trail at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Once I began walking again I decided to listen to “A Walk in Woods” a second time to catch what I missed after falling asleep last night.

The farther I hiked the better the San Jacinto Mountains could be viewed. They had snow on top and I wondered how much of it I would have to walk on, because I knew the trail went over those mountains.

The tramily takes a break

At 1 p.m. I found the rest of the tramily had stopped for lunch near a stream.

The water in the stream had a lot of dirt, so Tengo and I used my bandana as a pre-filter for collecting some.

My quilt drying in the sun

This stop was a good opportunity to let my quilt air out. Though my tent didn’t leak, last night's mist and rain had made the air damp enough to make my quilt damp.

The dry desert air dried it quickly.

Walking with Tengo Hambre

Tengo and I walked together for most of the afternoon. Initially, the trail was flat and easy, but became more difficult as the day went on.

Concrete cistern

We passed a concrete cistern used for livestock. It didn’t look like a good spot to get water and we still had plenty from our stop at the stream, so we kept walking.

The trail climbs more steeply

Soon the trail became more difficult as it climbed more steeply. It was steepest we had experienced for most of the trip so far.

Late afternoon on the trail

The trail remained very scenic through this section, so that made the climb go better.

Canterbury bells

There were several blooming flowers, including Canterbury bells. They were a wildflower here, but they’re often found domesticated in residential gardens.

Cactus with a view

There were also plenty of interesting cacti to look at.

Tengo Hambre at a water cache

Tengo and I reached a water cache at 5:30 p.m. The water was left here by volunteers and there wasn’t a lot of it, so we only took a little to help us get to our campsite, where we knew there would be more water.

Setting sun

An hour later the sun was sinking near the horizon. The air was getting chilly, but I knew we were near our destination, so I didn't stop to put on a jacket.

Arriving at Mary's Place

Tengo got ahead of me on the last section to the campsite, which was called Mary’s Place. I was the last to arrive at 7 p.m. All of the other tramily members were already there, and as I approached they let out a loud cheer, "Gravity!"

I told them I was going to purposefully be the last to arrive so they can do that every day.

Dinner at Mary's Place

Mary’s Place was the exact opposite of Mike’s Place in every way. Instead of a collection of junk, the place was tidy. Instead of a few random chairs, we had two large picnic tables to sit at and eat.

Tents at Mary's Place

Instead of a cruddy RV and no clear place to camp, we had a nice, flat spot to pitch our tents.

Muir John

Instead of a clump of bushes that were the designated toilet area, we had a classy privy. It was so classy it even had a clever name, Muir John.

Mary's Place library

But the ultimate proof that this place was nothing like Mike’s Place was a small library. Inside were reprints of works by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Walt Whitman.

To be sure, this was a unique and special place. I had never seen a campsite like it, and it was all provided for free by a woman who lived nearby.

Bookworm wasn't here because he stayed behind at Mike's Place to finish cleaning up after breakfast. Besides the rest of the tramily, the other hikers who were here tonight included Just Awesome, Steel Belted, and Dan.

At dinner Deva said she had decided to change the trail name Hootenanny gave her because she didn’t feel it was a good fit. She was now Spamalot. She liked to eat spam and lots of it, so the name made sense.

I was glad she changed it. "Deva" was too close to "diva," and she was too sweet a person to be a diva.

Going where the wind don't blow so strange
Maybe off on some high cold mountain range
Lost one round but the price wasn't anything
A knife in the back and more of the same

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