Last night was cool because we experienced a thunderstorm while we slept. Lying in bed while hearing the sounds of rumbling thunder and the pitter-patter of the rain drops on the roof is something that we as Californians don’t get to experience much.
Judy felt much better upon awakening in the morning, which was a major relief because it would have really sucked for her or anyone to get sick during the trip. We were back in the saddle and on the trail by 8:10 AM.
Today was perhaps the most scenic day of our trip thus far with lots of trees, the occasional wildflower field, and expansive views of the valley below. Once again, we encountered many, many cows, both on the trail and off. This was much to the dismay of Rob and Brian who somehow managed to get cow dung all over their bottom water bottles. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that an easy way to avoid this predicament is to simply not ride over the cow dung. Hmmm… maybe they need to work on their bike handling skills.
With all the cow encounters, Judy was able to hone her cow herding skills. As I can attest to by watching Judy in action, shouting “Moooooo!” in a high-pitched voice at the top of your lungs is very effective in getting cows to move off the trail. I know that if I was a cow, I’d certainly move off the trail if that was what it took to get that sound to stop.
I realized partway through the day that all the air in my rear shock had leaked out. This probably meant that the seal holding the air in needed to be replaced. In retrospect, this wasn’t really surprising considering that I had not had the shock overhauled in the 4+ years that I’ve owned this bike. It likely wasn’t a big deal and would just require me to pump up the shock more frequently. At least I hoped that to be the case.
Although the weather started out really nice, we soon saw thunderstorms brewing around us. At one point, we were surrounded by thunderstorms, one to our left, one straight ahead, and one to the right. We hoped to outrun the one in front of us, but it turned out that our paths would cross. Before getting too close, we decided to take cover. We didn’t do this in the most prudent manner as Brian huddled by himself under some trees while the rest of us all gathered together under another set of trees. This would not have necessarily been a bad thing for Brian because if we had gotten struck by lightening, he would have had his pick of all our gear and bikes/components. Perhaps that’s why he ran over to us, stuck a long metal pole in the ground, and then ran back to his hiding place. You’ve got to hand it to that Brian – always thinking.
The thunderstorm turned out to be weak, barely releasing any rain (or hail for that matter). It was soon over and we were again on our way, but not before I stopped to take a picture of the dead cow that the vultures were busy picking at before we arrived.
Our directions informed us that we’d be hitting a campsite prior to the hut where we should fill up our water. We found the campsite and Rob and I took the opportunity to use the available faucet to do some quick laundry. We washed, or rather rinsed, the shirts on our backs and in the warm sun, it felt pretty good to put the still wet shirts back on. Everyone filled up their water and we made the final 3 mile descent to the hut, arriving at around 2:10 PM.
Hut #4 was situated on private property, specifically the Graham Ranch. Although seemingly a bit smaller (especially the minimal head room for the top bunks), the hut itself wasn’t much different from prior huts. It did have one unique aspect, however, in that it had a heavy front door made of thick metal that was secured by a difficult-to-reach padlock. We were perplexed by the rationale behind having such a bombproof door. In continuing with the metal theme, the hut had a metal roof. The downside to this is that the roof absorbed all the heat from the sun making it really warm inside. Hopefully things would cool down when the sun went down.
The hut also had a swing set in front which didn’t quite swing straight, and a large horse corrale with three horses. One of these horses had a bell around its neck that rang pretty much whenever the horse moved. Hopefully horses sleep at night so we wouldn’t have to hear the ringing bell throughout the night.
For some reason, there was a lone horse that was outside the corrale. This horse desperately wanted to be inside the corrale and kept circling the corrale trying to get in to join its compadres. It ended up trotting through the hut area several times.
We had initially set our bikes against the horse corrale, that is until Dave decided to feed the horses an apple. This turned out to be a really bad idea because not only did the horses get agitated with anticipation, but as the horse ate the apple, it started dripping gobs of green drool. Brian’s bike was nearly coated with this natural Slime concoction. We quickly moved the bikes to a safer area and decided not to give the horses anymore apples.
One of the nice things about Hut #4 is the available shower facility. The Graham family is nice enough to provide a shower for riders of the SJHS. Although we really didn’t feel that dirty (probably because of the cool and dry mountain air), a shower would likely still feel pretty good so we all took one (not together mind you, although there were two opposite facing showers available). Judy had brought some Passion Fruit body wash for me to use and also had a packet of Lemon scented body wash which Dave took. Although they won’t admit it, it was pretty obvious that the other guys were jealous of our fresh and fruity post-shower scents.
For dinner, Dave cooked up his San Juan Hut Surprise, a cornucopias medley of canned chicken, canned corn, garlic, onions, rosemary blend, chives, and probably a bunch of other seasonings of which I’ve forgotten. Although quick and easy and shot from the hip, it turned out to be fairly tasty.
Judy carried on with her hut tradition of opening a can of fruit, taking one bite, and then pawning it off on some unsuspecting soul who would then have to finish it off.
We had hoped that the horse with the bell would go to sleep, but it didn’t. We were tired though and soon fell asleep to the sounds of clanging bells…
Cumulative miles: 111.5
Daily miles: 36.5
Mechanicals: Roger rear shock air leak
[Go to Day 5 trip report or go to pics.]