Warner Springs break-down: The post-PCT adventure

Sometimes the real adventures on the trail come before or after the trail, as was the case for me after the Pioneer Mail to Warner Springs section of the Pacific Crest Trail I walked gosh, just two weeks ago.

I don't have as many pictures for this section as I did for the last one, but I think it'll be worth it, so please come along and take a look see. 

I'll begin with where I left off, at Warner Springs, a lovely end-point for the first section of the trail, about 110 miles north of the Mexican border.

Here's what the trail looks like just 1/4 of a mile from the PCT Stop N' Shop at the Warner Springs Community Resource Center (which is open for a month during the thru-hikers season).  


On Saturday eve, I had a pleasant post-trail dinner of bread and salami, dried fruit and a little left-over rum. Repacked, put everything in my little truck, turned the key and — nada. No response. Maybe because I left the lights on for three and a half days. 

Oy. How stupid can I be. Called the local trail angel, Monty, from a number in camp had by a fellow hiker, but though willing to help he was 45 minutes away and at dinner and I didn't want to inconvenience him. Talked to the local Calfire folks at the station across the street. 

They were totally willing to help. A tall rangy fellow drove the enormous CalFire truck across the street, helped me push my little truck out, hooked up the battery to charge it — but though it would turn over, it would not start. Even when the captain came over and helped iwth a push start — no joy. 

Called AAA. which turned out to be RBS Towing, and a big guy named Dave, who after arriving hooked up his battery charger and saw that the battery was holding a charge, and concluded after a few attempts and some inspection of a suspicious looking fuse that I had "other issues." 

He pulled my little black pickup up the ramp on to his enormous rig and towed me to Julian, a little over twenty miles, stopping at an impromptu yard where he scavenged a fuse out of a wrecked Chevy in the dark and replaced the seemingly burned out one in my truck — but it made no difference. 

Took the truck to town and dropped it off at the local service shop, not expected to open for business before Monday. He looked for a place to drop me off. No room at the Lodge, at a B and B, and the exclusive resort at the top of the hill, though occupied, appeared to be locked. 

"Well, what do you want to do?" he said. 

"Do you have a cemetary in town?'

"Yeah," he said. "What do you want to do — sleep with a bunch of dead people?" 

"Yeah, I could camp out there," I said. "Nobody'd bother me."

He sat at an intersection and thought about it. The roads were empty, he could go any which way he chose. 

"Ah hell," he said. "I got a couch." 

So he took me back out of town and up a ridge to his trailer in the woods, where he lived with his three-legged dog named Felony. 

"Felony went chasing after a truck," he said. "And she caught it." 

Dave adopted the dog while living in Buttonwillow a couple of years back. Here's a pic of her (I think her) from the next morning. 


Nice dog. Dave watched half of a crazy movie, had a drink — kindly didn't smoke around me, and didn't even want to accept a donation I gave him — and went to bed.

Trying to sleep I recalled a fellow I met on the trail, by the name of Rock Ocean (because he likes to both hike and surf, he explained with a smile.)

He offered help to hikers needing rides on a donation basis. I figured if I had get a ride back to Ojai in time for an important meeting late Sunday I could do it.

Dave gave me a ride into town, and a smile before I got out of his cab. 


I called Rock Ocean from Julian the next morning, after getting dropped off, and reached him on the trail, up in the San Felipe Hills near the Scissors crossing of Hwy 78 and 79, where i had been a day or so before. I tried to explain my plight. When he found out I was in Julian, not too far away from the bottom of the trail, he perked up. 

"I'm pretty good with cars," he said. 

 Dave figured it was probably a fuse, so when Rock Ocean showed up and looked at the fuses, and found three blown fuses, including the 80-amp main fuse, the fix appeared obvious. Fortunately the local convenience store/gas station did have the necessary ones, and after an hour of working on a twenty-two-year-old fuse box, Rock Ocean wrestled the new fuses into place. 

This picture doesn't do his smile justice, but it gives an idea of his determination. 


I turned the key and purr — engine turned over as if it had been on a minute before. I thanked Rock Ocean effusively, gave him a donation, promised him a place to stay if he ever wanted to come to Ventura, and headed for the open road…


And an Easter Sunday traffic jam. Couldn't help it though: I still felt good. 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

2 thoughts on “Warner Springs break-down: The post-PCT adventure

  1. Looks like your new mantra/motto should be that Tennessee Williams line, “I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers.”


  2. Agree completely.

    A little anecdote about the creation of that great line…apparently when Williams was living, utterly broke, in New Orleans, twenty years into his writing career with precious little to show for it, he would go out in the morning and ask passers-by for cigarettes, because he couldn’t afford to buy his own. This is what he started to calling that, in his poeticizing way.

    (I believe I saw that in the wonderful collection of his notebooks put out by Yale University Press, though I’ve looked for the detail, and haven’t yet been able to footnote it.)


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