Eagle Rock

Poised for flight, wings spread bright

Day 9, Tentsite at Mile 101.6 to Tentsite at Mile 114.7

Monday, April 1, 2019

I had been anticipating this day for a long time. I knew I would pass by Eagle Rock, which was a unique rock formation in the middle of a wide desert plain.

Weather Overcast before becoming mostly sunny, with a high temperature in mid 70s and a light breeze
Trail Conditions Mostly flat with sand or hard-packed dirt; rocky climb later
Today's Miles 13.1 miles
Trip Miles 114.7 miles

And though I could not have anticipated all of what happened this day, it was not unexpected that it would be an interesting and fun day. Every day so far has been that way.

Though the trail would be especially easy today, we didn’t try to take advantage of that by hiking more miles. Instead, we used the opportunity to enjoy where the trail took us.

Tengo and Bookworm start hiking

Tengo, Bookworm and I began hiking around 7:30 a.m. The morning was a little chilly, but soon warmed to a more pleasant temperature. The sky remained lightly overcast.

Footprints in the sand

The trail was easy to walk. There was little elevation change and though the footpath was sometimes sandy, it was solid enough to not become tiring on feet and ankles.

Bookworm and Tengo cross wash

After about 30 minutes of walking the trail took us across a broad wash and into a larger, flat valley.

We were entering an area that was once part of Warners Ranch, which for a time covered about 57,000 acres. This is said to be the largest region of level land in Southern California.

Tengo and Bookworm pass a PCT marker

For being nearly flat with only grasses and a few small shrubs for vegetation, this was a picturesque section of trail.

Tengo and Bookworm pass another PCT marker

I stopped frequently to take photos. This section was completely different than any we had hiked so far.

Wide plain of Warners Ranch

The trail continued on and on in the glorious meadow.

Walk through trees

Then it passed over a short ridge covered in trees before descending to another wide meadow.

Bookworm, Tengo and Gravity standing at Eagle Rock

In the middle of the next meadow stood a large outcropping of rock. Though not recognizable from the angle we approached, we knew we had arrived at Eagle Rock.

By walking around to the other side we could see that it really did look like an eagle with its wings spread wide. The resemblance was uncanny.

A day hiker took our picture, then we continued on so that we wouldn’t fall too far behind the rest of the tramily.

Leaving Eagle Rock

For about three more miles, the trail continued across the same open field.

We passed several day hikers walking to Eagle Rock, and I was reminded of what we called day hikers when I was on the Appalachian Trail. We referred to them as laundry comets because of the scent of laundry soap, shampoo, deodorant and aftershave they left trailing behind.

It always amazes me how those scents are so noticeable in the outdoors, yet go unnoticed in other settings.

Creek near Warner Springs

At the end of the meadow the trail followed a small creek, which was flowing well. We didn’t stop for water, though, because we were heading to Warner Springs Community Center and that was less than a mile away.

Arrive at Warner Springs Community Center

The community center was located on California Highway 79 and we arrived there at 11:30 a.m.

A school and fire station were also in the vicinity, but not much else. The rest of the community was located a couple miles up the road.

Checking in at Warner Springs Community Center

Several volunteers managed the community center facility, and during hiking season their main focus was on providing hiker services. We were told they helped 2,000 hikers last year. While we were there, two or three dozen hikers came in and out of the building.

Gilligan, Falls and Deva soak their feet

The center was operated by donations and the sale of a few items. A surprising number of amenities were offered, including a massaging foot soak. Though no showers or laundry facilities were available, buckets and a water spigot were provided if we wished to clean up.

Outside the center, an outfitter business operated from a small trailer, which was crammed with all of the essential items a hiker might need. Gilligan bought a pair of shoes because she was having problems with her feet and hoped a new pair would help.

A closet in the community center was used to sell hiker food. There was enough quantity and variety to resupply for the next section of the trail.

Had I known this was here I probably would not have sent a box to the Warner Springs Post Office. I did that because I had read Warner Springs was a good place to send a resupply box.

Still, it was not a problem to retrieve my box. A volunteer drove two other hikers, Canary and Boston Chris, and me to the post office.

Eating a spaghetti dinner

After unpacking my resupply box, I spent time chatting with other hikers and relaxing. Then at 3 p.m. we walked across the road to the school, which was for grades Kindergarten through 12.

Fifth and sixth grade students were hosting a spaghetti dinner for hikers. It was a fund-raiser for a trip they were planning in the spring.

Leaving Warner Springs

We could have camped overnight at the community center, but instead we decided to leave at 4 p.m. and walk about five more miles.

For much of the next section, the trail went through the same wide meadow we had walked through in the morning.

Continuing across the plain

As I continued across this field I noticed there was a landing strip near the end. I saw several times a plane towing a glider take off from there. The glider pilot would circle around and practice landing back at the gliderport before repeating the routine.

Leaving the meadow, the trail followed Agua Caliente (hot water) Creek for a good distance. Starting more than a thousand years ago, the Cupeño Indians lived along this creek and at the nearby hot sulphur springs.

The Cupa, as they were also called, were one of the smallest Native American tribes in Southern California. When the springs became a popular destination for tourists in the late 1800s, the Cupa were forced to fight court battles to save their homes. The fight went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they lost in 1901.

Several years earlier, President Rutherford Hayes had signed an order to move the tribe 40 miles away to a 10,000-acre reservation established for the Luiseno tribe, and in 1903 the order was executed.

When we arrived at the spot where we intended to camp, some tramily members didn’t think there was enough space for all of our tents, so they moved on a short distance farther up the trail.

That night, frogs were croaking so loudly I needed to put in earplugs so I could sleep.

Paradise waits
On the crest of a wave
Her angels in flame
She has no pain
Like a child, she is pure
She is not to blame

Poised for flight
Wings spread bright
Spring from night
Into the sun
Don't stop to run
She can fly like a lie
She cannot be outdone

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