Day 8 route overview
Some of the most picturesque desert miles lay ahead on this section of trail. Winding your way through the mountains with the most alien landscapes and rock formations which put everything into perspective as you fill your water from the streams of melting snow from the summits above. Moving through, you eventually reach Mike’s Place which is a hiker haven, literally in the middle of nowhere, usually hosted by Mike and Spirit, Mike’s place is a home from the trail and a place to catch up with friends and recharge your physical and electronic batteries before heading toward the infamous San Jacinto Mountains.
Starting the trail at one of the highest points for the day, you reach Mike’s place at the peak of your ascent before descending to the desert floor where the Paradise Valley Café and the San Jacinto Mountains await.
After walking a few miles up the trail I passed a south-bounder who was flip-flopping from Kennedy Meadows. He said Mike’s Place was still accepting hikers into their backyard and advised to donate what I could to support the trail angels that lived there. I continued on until I came across a sign which said “still open, Mike’s Place – Hiker Trash welcome” in weathered paint on an old piece of wood.
Leaving the trail I continued up an old track which led to a water tank and a donation box next to a stone staircase leading down to Mike’s place.
A chat with Spirit
Entering Mike’s place I was struck by the silence and the faint sound of the desert wind in the distance coupled with the squeaking of metal on machinery and bits and bobs dotting the yards around the house. At first I didn’t think anyone was in. I slowly made my way to the backyard and softly shouted: “hello? Anyone home?”
“hello there!” I heard back, as a man with a really long, white beard and a cowboy hat came walking around the corner and introduced himself as Spirit. He was looking after Mike’s place while Mike was away. For what reason Mike was away, Spirit didn’t say. “I’m here keeping an eye on things and making sure not too many hikers come here because of this whole Wuhan situation, but I want hikers to come through” he added. “Put your pack down and I’ll show ya around.”
Spirit showed me around the backyard and some of the outside area, but couldn’t allow me to go inside. Lizards were darting around, snapping flies from the breeze as I put my batteries on charge.
Spirit had a very strong opinion about the COVID-19 situation which he kindly agreed to talk about on camera. He added that he felt hikers were in the right place, far away from the virus. Later events lead me to believe otherwise.
I after filming, I bid Spirit farewell and went on my way around the winding hills further into the desert before descending to a nice, flat spot not too far from a water source for the night.