Scott and Rachel's Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike journal: Los Molinos, Broken Bones and Killer Roosters, Apr 4

The "R2" Ranch, Los Molinos, CA - We're just over one week away from starting the trail. It's a good thing too, as Scott needs the rest! He's managed to break a collar bone and suffered knee damage from being attacked by a deranged rooster. Don't laugh, it's all true. Okay, laugh, because it is all too weird. Perhaps we should back up and start at the beginning.

Rachel's last day of work was March 27th. She didn't have long to enjoy her new unemployed status, as we spent the 28th, 29th & 30th moving our belongings into storage, packing for our long trip, and cleaning the old basement suite. Those were long and busy days. Boxing, moving, carting, and cleaning. We were both sore from all the heavy lifting. The only problem, for Scott, was that he became MORE sore after the moving was complete. While we were staying a few days with Rachel's folks, in Vancouver, his left shoulder became so sore that he could barely move it without experiencing sharp, knife-like pain. We can only surmise that during the move, lifting some really heavy object into the back of the truck, or out of the apartment, that he caused a slight stress fracture of his clavicle. Oh joy.

What do we do? Like broken ribs, it is extremely difficult to immobilize the bones, so healing will have to occur gradually, over the course of several weeks. It will make lifting a pack (countless times a day) that much more fun!

So it was with a broken bone that we sent him off to California, in a fully laden truck. He crossed the border into the U.S. on Monday, April 1st, loaded with packs, tent, sleeping bags, 75 pounds of mixed nuts, 50 pounds of instant rice, over 500 candy bars, a freezer, a bunch of tools, and a story - "We're gonna be walking from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail." Needless to say, they had a few questions to ask him and he was one of those poor souls whom they asked to pull into a bay and go through the vehicle.

The search didn't take long and a quizzical looking Custom's officer wished him a good hike and sent Scott on his way. "I'm glad it's you and not me," he said, "That just sounds like a lot of WORK to me." Relieved to be across the border, Scott didn't linger to explain about the beauty of the Sierras, sunsets in the desert or about the sound of a babbling stream, he just got in the truck and continued along with the 14-hour drive to his folk's house in northern California.

And now, the story that you have been waiting for - the killer rooster. Hold onto your hats. Put the small children to bed. Believe the unbelievable. Just when you thought it was safe to venture into the chicken pen.

Scott's folks live on a small ranch (a ranchette, if you will) near Chico, California. They have the normal compliment of farm animals - cows, chickens, a dog, two cats, sheep, and ... a killer rooster. Scott, of course, weary from his 14-hour drive, broken clavicle, and days of moving, was unaware of the danger. He didn't know that you are supposed to enter the chicken pen armed with a hula-hoe, to defend yourself from the attack of the killer rooster. So, it was with the innocence of a new-born (well, maybe not exactly a newborn, more like a couple of days-old new-born ... okay, maybe not that either ... maybe just the innocence of a new day ... or still groggy from sleep, because it was just before 6 AM) that Scott entered the chicken pen and walked over to the coop to let the rooster and hens out for the day. He swung the latch on the door and there, standing in the doorway, looking at Scott with the Devil in his eye, stood the killer rooster. He even has a name, this carnivore of the barnyard - "Romey". (After his early morning encounter, Scott simply refers to him as "Stew". Not as in "Stewart", either, if you catch my drift. But, back to the tale...)

It should be noted here, for the record that Scott, who has met this killer before, had no beef with this dinosaur decedent. Other than complain because he crows before the sun rises (starting at about 3:30 AM and continues all day, at odd times. Whoever spread the rumor that roosters crow only at the very moment that the sun peaks above the horizon in the morning, never lived on a farm.)

Scott opens the door to the coop, thereby freeing the killer rooster and his portly flock of four hens. You would think that they would be thankful for their release from the cramped (and stinky) coop, but here is the rooster, giving Scott the evil eye. (And it was a mean look, even by killer-rooster standards). The rooster flutters to the ground and the hens follow, amidst much cackling and general hubbub. While Scott's back is turned, and he is watching the hens emerge (perhaps the killer rooster thought Scott's curious eyes were a tad too appreciative of the hens rounded features?) Who knows the motivation of the killer rooster, but when Scott's back was turned, the killer saw his opportunity and attacked. Like lightening the killer rooster lunged for Scott's knees with his sharp claws and deadly spur. There was a rush of wing beats and before a groggy Scott could react, the bird was upon him. The first surge was only a glancing blow and perhaps Scott should have turned tail and run, but instead, he turned to face his feathered attacker and challenge him. "Surely, I have size one my side," thought Scott. But the killer rooster had only blood in his eyes as he lunged again into a full frontal assault. This time, the bird connected with a sharp blow to Scott's left patella, breaking the skin under his jeans and causing severe pain. It was as if the killer knew that Scott was planning on hiking and was trying to thwart those efforts. A football player at heart, Scott simply punted this feathered monster about 10 yards, ass over waddle. This stunned the killer rooster and he picked himself up and stood his ground. The battle was over, but the damage had been done. While Scott limped out of the chicken pen, the killer rooster stalked him, as if to say, "...and don't ever come back."

Scott's left knee is still very tender. He is hoping for a quick recovery, but is reminded of the Romey's wrath each time he takes a step. Committed to completing the Pacific Crest Trail, Scott is hoping that the adventure begins soon ... he is looking forward to the rest!

Scott has not been in to see his rooster buddy. He says now, "They can rot in their coop for all I care." If Scott does venture into the chicken pen again, rest assured that he will be armed with a hula-hoe (or better yet, a shotgun).

One positive thing has come from his encounter with the killer rooster .. Scott now more thoroughly enjoys his chicken dinners.