Mile 444.0 Acton KOA to mile 566.5 Tehachapi
When life comes at you.
Day Twenty-Two: 24 May 2015
Start: HM 444
End: HM 466 small campsite
GPS Point: 34.587647, -118.321819
Day Total: 22 miles
Water at mile 454 Agua Dulce, 463.2 Bear Spring
I slept in this morning. I didn’t know what the guys were thinking about for mileage so decided I would let them go and I would just catch them. I hung out with Jackson and At Home until 9AM. Right off the bat is the Golden Spike at mile 444.5. This monument is for when the PCT was declared complete in a “Golden Spike” ceremony on 6/5/1993. Sort of a dinky little structure, and a strange place to put the monument, but interesting all the same.
I busted out the 10 miles to Agua Dulce in three hours! You cross through Vasquez Rocks just as you come into town. A side note for the Trekkies out there. Vasquez Rocks is where Captain Kirk yells “Khan!” in front of the rocks after his group was exiled to a desert planet. It was really cool. Coming into the park I met two PCT’ers who were stopped to climb a rock face. Then immediately following was an older guy taking audial notes on the geology of the rock formation. Strange day.
Getting into Agua Dulce I finally had wifi! Updated a bunch of stuff and am not feeling stressed about the nuisances of life and town chores anymore. Realizing I’m 4 days behind has me itching to push ahead, but I will likely wait until Kennedy Meadows still. These are great people. And now Jackson (Lazy Bones) and Mike (Magic) are caught up too. I think they are worth hanging around for. The back crew caught up to be around us. Why shouldn’t I stay back to do the same?
I didn’t leave Agua Dulce until 3PM. Way later than desired, but I am glad to have things taken care of. Also was prepared to hike into the evening to get a decent distance in. Found Hoots, Hot Sauce, and Magic at mile 466 tucked into a tiny camp spot. They let me squeeze in. Polka Dots is apparently a few miles further up. Can’t complain about 22 miles with a late start and long afternoon break. A few miles back was water for a 15 mile stretch. A single pipe to a spring, collectable by scoop. There were five people there when I arrived. I cannot believe how many people have passed through in the last two days. Another reason I want to push forward since I want to quickly get through the main herd without being stuck among it too long. Limited water becomes a chore when ten or more people are waiting on the same spring pipe…
Finally note, my friend Tuna Helper happened to be coming through the Acton area yesterday. He’s on his way to the Mexican border to start the PCT for a speed attempt. His brother and he gave me a ride back to the KOA. Definitely a mood booster after my struggles with hitching.
Mosquitoes are out so I am tucking in for the night.
Day Twenty-three: 25 May 2015
Start: HM 466
End: HM 498.2 Sawmill Campground
GPS Point: 34.701733, -118.572545
Day Total: 18.6 miles
Water at mile 478.2 Casa de Luna
I finally have my hiker legs! I have been able to do a consistent 3 mph for a few days, and today I crushed 12 miles in 3.5 hours. I am feeling good. And confident that I can take off at the daily mileage I have thought possible if not hiking as a group. Though my right pinky toe is just going through the step of pushing the nail off and was very painful by the end of today. Other than that I have no troubling aches or pains.
We ended up heading to Casa de Luna in hopes that there would be food and fun for Memorial Day. Instead a big group that had stayed the last night were all heading out. It was a strange scene. Reminded me of the vortex of Mike’s party stop. We hung out for a little while and took off. This is the last reroute section, the 2013 Powerhouse Fire. 15.9 miles of closed trail that parallel the Elizabeth Rd highway. We got a hitch into Lake Hughes and then we’re planning to hitch the second half. There was this man outside the mom and pop store with a 1918 Studebaker Big Six Touring muscle car with Klaxon horn. He fixed it up himself and says it one of only four running in the world. Still had the steel frame canvass roof, folding windshield, two middle fold out seats, and leather interior. I asked if I could have a picture with it and he let me sit inside the backseat. Then he was asking about the trail, eating a sandwich, while we were trying to gain a hitch. You might guess, but he offered us a ride! It was amazing! We only had four or five miles to go, but definitely a highlight of my day! We crammed five hikers and all our packs into the Studebaker and were off. So cool! And what a lucky hitch! Also hopefully the last road section we have to deal with.
The connector trail back to the PCT was a hot, steep incline up a drainage basin that was covered in poison oak. I am shocked that the fire section is out of commission because there aren’t enough funds for maintenance. From viewing the condition of the connector trail, I suspect there are many alternate routes being utilized. We went a few miles and stopped early at the first water and campsite. It is a bit chilly and breezy, but not bad overall. We even found three broken air soft pellet guns that almost provided mild entertainment. In total it was a short day of about 19 miles of hiking. But we “covered” 32.2 PCT miles. After several short days, I am thinking that tomorrow I will get into Hikertown for my resupply and then pull my first night hike stretch. It will make for a long day, but will hopefully put me on a good track forward. Tehachapi is only 50 miles past Hikertown and I am supposed to zero there. Hoots, Hot Sauce, Magic, Tami, and I are all together tonight. I missed Polka Dots by 30 minutes at the Fire Station this morning. He went straight on to the trail and we hitched to Casa de Luna. Who knows how far ahead he is now.
There were so many hikers today. I am nervous but also excited to push into and past the main herd.
Into the desert we go!
Day Twenty-four: 26 May 2015
Start: HM 498.2
End: HM 527 along the aqueduct
GPS Point: 34.85383, -118.52875
Day Total: 28.8 miles
Water at mile 502.4 Red Rock Water Tank guzzler, mile 517.6 Highway 138/Hikertown
Today was a long day. We woke up early and hit the trail before the sun was hot. Tami, Hot Sauce, and I stopped at the guzzler to get water. It took us a fair bit of time. Unlike the one we found early on in the trip, this one had a corrugated metal roof over it. The roof complicated our ability to access the guzzler, but we figured it out. Something I learned today is that hunters put up guzzlers because it provides them water but also attracts animals that they want to hunt. Also makes sense why they aren’t super accessible for humans.
By 10AM we were on full descent from the mountain down to the valley. It was exposed, hot, and terrible. I definitely do not function well in the heat. By the time we reached Hikertown, I was beat and likely very dehydrated. Upon entering the property, Tami and I were immediately accosted to be driven to the store/restaurant that the Hikertown host owns. I ended up going. It turned out to be a good trip for me. I drank a lot of cold drinks, ate a burger and fries, charged my phone up, and just hung out in the shaded room. No one else from my group went. Of the hikers I was taken with, we were all sort of just abandoned there. So I spent a few hours in town. We eventually got a ride back. I found my food package, organized my pack, washed my feet, hung out, and then it was like and rush of my group to get going. As always, I was the last to leave. 5:45 PM for some cool, slightly overcast, desert hiking into the evening.
Brandon showed up while I was at the store. Apparently he walked the road section and was actually behind us yesterday. So we are all back together, plus Tami and Magic Mike. We hiked about ten miles away from Hikertown and are all cowboy camped on this raised cement platform by the aqueduct. I suspect it is an access point of some sort. A long day, good miles, and we avoided a majority of the afternoon heat. The plan forward, while we are in the real desert finally, is to hike in the cool morning and later evening hours, without relying on hard miles during midday. We will be in Tehachapi within two days for our second zero.
There were lots of people at Hikertown. Many were some of the stay-overs we met at Casa de Luna. A large group of us took off around the same time from Hikertown to get evening hiking hours. Luckily we hiked past the main group of goers. They weren’t on the most productive agenda. And two guys past us who I think are legitimately night hiking, and not just getting bonus miles at the end of the day. I met a Colorado girl today named C+, self claimed that she is slightly above average. So many Colorado people!
I could write more but it is late and they are waking me early. Night!
Day Twenty-five: 27 May 2016
Start: HM 527
End: HM 553.8 near wind farm in burn area
GPS Point: 35.02343, -118.39493
Day Total: 26.8 miles
Water at mile 541.6 Tylerhorse Canyon,
Everyone woke up super early this morning to beat the heat of the sun. Hoots and I slept in a slight bit longer but were still on the trail at 6:10 AM. My earliest start yet!! The late start turned out in our favor too. A few miles up the dirt road after departing from the aqueduct, a man named Paul, who owns a small stretch of land we crossed over, stopped us and gave us ice cold sweet tea! I was super hydrated today, peed seven times before the afternoon siesta point, but still downed an ice cold tea! It was glorious. The last four miles were extremely hot! I have zero go power in the heat. Thought maybe dehydration slowed me down, but clearly just the power of heat can bring me down.
We finally reached the river, at mile 14, and took an afternoon break. For some reason the other four took off shortly after we arrived. I thought the idea was to shade it up for the heat of the day and hike only mornings and evenings. Who knows. Hoots and I hung out under a tree until around 3:30 PM. We ended up hiking past the other group by a few miles. The afternoon siesta was fantastic! There wasn’t much in way of shade, so I splayed out right on the trail under a tree. The ground around was too steep, and the trail was nicely smooth and level. No one seemed to mind the obstacle too much. I never actually napped, but came close several times. My body has a hard time processing temperature changes with hydration. After tremendous fluid loss this morning by peeing many times, I didn’t go again until well after we started the 12 evening miles. Strange.
Hoots and I hiked right up to darkness. Our plan had been two more miles but we were ready to stop. We ended up racing daylight to find an acceptable spot. After a few failed attempts, we found a windy but level and sandy camp area near the wind farm. I am exhausted now and ready to call it a day. Met three guys on our evening jaunt: Boom Box, Trout Sniffer, and a third one.
Resting for a day.
Day Twenty-eight: 28 May 2015
Start: HM 553.8
End: HM 558.5 Tehachapi Willow Springs Road
GPS Point: 35.052248, -118.358443
Day Total: 4.7 miles
Water at mile 568.5 Tehachapi
It is phenomenal how disconnected our minds and bodies can be. Town trips are somewhat exhausting. And they can either feel like forever or breeze by extremely quickly. Regardless, my mind resists the break of a zero day. My body, however, desires and possibly requires rest days. I can tell in the eagerness of my step as my body realizes rest is coming soon if only it takes me a few miles further. I find a frenzied energy of great supply. All aches and pains subside. My footing becomes hurried and exact. My body knows rest, thorough and vegetative rest, is around the next bend. My solution is to utilize neros. For Tehachapi, I hiked a few miles to the first road crossing to Tehachapi. I spent the whole day doing chores, eating town food, and resting. Tomorrow I will go out early to slack pack the eight miles to the next road crossing to Tehachapi, then return to town for another day of off-trail rest. Thus two short days of overall rest instead of one, while still getting on trail, moving my legs, not being sucked into the town stop vortex, and getting to see the trail from an easier standpoint of day hiking without all my stuff. It seems like an ingenious plan for my town days. It could have been possible in Big Bear and Wrightwood. Plus this time it will also shorten a dry, big water carry stretch.
Hoots and I got into Tehachapi fairly early. A woman on her way to work picked us up. Willow Springs Road is mostly truck traffic, but traffic moves slow enough that people might actually stop. She dropped us off right by the depot area. Which turned out in our favor. I spotted a hiker and asked about the post office, including directions. He mentioned renting a bike from the motel he was staying at. That was our ticket! Hoots and I rented bikes, rode to the airport to establish our main base, and went all over town on our various chores. Tehachapi is somewhat spread out, spanning an older main road, a highway, and the railroad. So bikes were incredible for the mile plus distances between everything. We picked up packages from the post office, organized packs, grocery shopped, did laundry, and planned some afternoon snacking. Then I became a sprawled out bum on the carpeted floor of the airport lounge. The local Tehachapi airport allows hikers to camp near and hang out in the pilots’ lounge. It is fantastic! There is only one bathroom, but it has a shower. There is a kitchen, recliners, carpet, television with cable, and wifi. This really couldn’t be more awesome. And a fantastic woman came by this afternoon and dropped off a huge amount of fresh, hot food. So great!
After a lot of relaxing, I feel pretty good. I might have a struggle actually waking up early for the start of our slack pack, but a nice man named Al offered to give us a ride at 6:30 AM. Just more examples of the immense generosity of people along the trail so far.
After a lot of beer and a shower, I am feeling great but incredibly sleepy. Cowboy camping right by the lounge. Things are mostly quiet but will have some light and noise.
Brilliancy of slack packing!
Day Twenty-seven: 29 May 2015
Start: HM 558.5
End: HM 566.4 Highway 58
GPS Point: 35.099399, -118.292893
Day Total: 7.9 miles
Water at mile Tehachapi.
This morning Hot Sauce, Hoots, and I walked the connecting eight miles from Tehachapi Willow Springs Road to Highway 58 without our packs. So wonderful to not have pack weight! Definitely might utilize this method in the future. Though it did make today feel like we have been in town forever. To have a whole additional day in town. It was sort of strange, and mostly resulted in hanging out in the pilots’ lounge watching television. At least I definitely had plenty of rest in. Some town chores were accomplished that make me feel justified for all the town, wifi, computer, etc. challenges I have had.
Today’s trail stretch and much of the last two days have had us hiking through wind farms. The farm here at Tehachapi is really interesting because it has been around quite a long time. They have some of the original tower designs still up and functioning. Plus they do testing of new designs. A guy who works on the platform bases happened to give us a ride back from the trail today and I asked him lots of questions. Also took lots of photos. Very interesting stuff.
Simply because I could, I took another shower today. My justification being if my clothes need presoaking, I also may need two go’s at cleanliness. Especially since this last stretch to Kennedy Meadows is the driest as well as first distance to not cross any between towns. This section will be good preparation for the whole Sierras distance. Water won’t be an issue there, but it will have some of the longest food/day spans.
When the three of us hit the trail, Polka Dots came with and continued on the trail north. We all group hugged before parting. We are pretty sure Magic also took off this morning. And Tami left this afternoon. Hoots, Hot Sauce, and I will leave in the morning. I still need to completely reorganize my pack before we hit the trail. I will wake up early and do it then. It is difficult because my sleeping quilt is the first item into my pack, so nothing else can really be organized until that’s in after I sleep tonight. Plus, with this being my longest food stretch, I am not yet sure how the squeeze six days of food into my pack under my current weight balance system. Not to worry now, I will figure it out in the morning.
Beyond that, we saw some others come into town today. At Home, the German guy, the French couple, Toes and Cheese, and others who I have only seen and not really interacted with as much. Lots of people hanging around the airport still. And the wonderful local trail angel, Teresa, brought food again for supper. Hoots asked her why she brings food every night. Her response was asking him why all of us hike every day. Pretty amazing! PCT’ers, and thru hikers in general, are often called hiker trash, but we have definitely been on the receiving end of some incredible amounts of kindness and generosity. I cannot thank the people and communities enough for everything they do. And for anyone out there who partakes in random acts of kindness, you cannot imagine how much a small gesture can mean to a person in need.
I am glad to be taking my time during this beginning part of the trail. Heat doesn’t treat me well but good company does. I am definitely glad to have been able to camp with people every night of the trip so far.