Memories from May 22
I slept in 🙂 Having four walls is somehow more conducive to that than the three wall pitch I’d used with my tarp before getting a poncho-tent yesterday.
It took a long time to run all my errands today because the city is so spread out.
* started walking to the laundromat but got picked up by Dog Bite the same trail angel who’d given me a ride from the post office yesterday. There were already 4 people in the 3 back seats, so I sat on the passenger’s lap. A police car was across an intersection from us but didn’t do anything.
* Got 6 days of food from the Dollar General. I have one left in my foodbag. Kennedy Meadows is about 140 miles
* Also got a big bag of knock off Captain Crunch and a gallon of milk this wound up being my sustenance for the day
* went to the laundromat but didn’t have enough cash to get quarters
* went to the Albertson’s to get a bowl for cereal. Their ATM wasn’t BofA.
* met Calamity and made a plan to get a ride back to the airport together
* went to Save Mart which had a BofA ATM and remembered to get Duck Tape which I haven’t had so far
* went back to the laundromat and did laundry while wearing my rain clothes commando so I could wash everything. Also ate cereal from an Albertson’s deli soup bowl and got in a conversation with a local. So hikertrash.
* met Calamity and called Dog Bite to see if he’s give us a ride. Got a message machine so called a friend about scheduling in the Sierras so I can plan resupplies while Calamity looked for flip flops
* tried calling Dog Bite again but got a message machine so went to Starbucks to poach WiFi. Ran in to Jan and Julie. It was good to see them after yesterday’s post office race. Decided to try Zero Day Resupply (Amazon for backpacking resupplies) instead of buying food in town and shipping it because the grocery stores and post office in Tehachapi are more than two miles apart and it would take several trips. Instead to arrange 3 resupplies in less than an hour and a half. Take that Tehachapi city planning.
* Give up on getting a ride from Dog Bite. Walk back to the airport. Then walk to Home Depot to see if I can get Tyvek for a new ground cloth (I’ve been using a poncho as a ground cloth but my new poncho is my tent). A trail angel I’d seen at Starbucks saying it was his day off of trail angeling asks if I want a ride.
* Home Depot doesn’t sell Tyvek is less than a large roll. I wind up with a .7mil painter’s drop cloth, walk back to camp and cut it down to size. The stuff feels as light as a trash bag. Hope that’s not a problem later
At this point it’s something like 4pm and I still haven’t caught up on my blog, figured out how to fit 7 days if food into my backpack (my backpack is 45 liters and most people have at least 58 liters; REI recommends my pack for weekend trips, not multi-day excursions). I also need to ship home my old tarp and poncho. I don’t have refrigeration for my leftover milk tonight. But Waterboy and Calamity are going to see Jungle Boom in twoish hours so I do the responsible thing and tell them I’m in. Then Team Bizzle shows up (they’d originally planned to arrive tomorrow morning) and hanging out commences. My departure time moves from tomorrow morning to evening.
The Jungle Book was great. It was also nice to see a movie not feeling like hikertrash.
I have been in town 1.5 days and still haven’t eaten at a real restaurant. How did that happen?
Memories from May 21
I detached from Team Bizzle last night since I’m on a slightly faster timeline to get to the Sierras. However, when I broke camp at first light, I found Jan and Julie packing up. They’d gotten in to Hikertown just as I was leaving but had hiked almost to midnight making it an 37 mile day. Leaving people behind on the PCT is no guarantee that you won’t see them again soon. I was hiking slowly through the wind farm and they overtook me though I caught them again when I switch out of my jacket which for some reason put me into go mode.
Sunrise hiking through a wind farm. I saw a lot of windmills today. Not surprisingly, there was a pretty noticeable about of wind.
It turns out Jan had a box at the Tehachapi post office which closed at 2pm. After collecting water in a wash 6 or 7 miles from where we’d slept, it was 8:10am and there were still 16 or 17 miles to go plus a hitch. I had a poncho-tent waiting for me at the same post office and so decided to join the challenge.
The trail was far from flat which is why it had sweeping views like this.
And another wind farm.
But I made it to Willow Springs Road by 12:30pm. The second car to pass gave me a hitch into Tehachapi (thanks Nick and Pam) and so I had my package with an hour to spare.
I had been sitting outside the post office for a few minutes trying to figure out accommodations. Just after I’d decided to camp at the municipal airfield (Best Western, which seemed like a nice idea since I felt like I could barely walk was $99 for a single bed and I didn’t know anyone in town with whom to arrange a room split), a car pulled up, discouraged a hiker, and then shouted if I was going to the airport. Dog Bite, the driver, is a trail angel who spends six weeks a year running something of a shuttle bus route for PCT hikers. This is really nice because whoever did Tehachapi’s urban planning appears not to consider walkability of any importance. In another 15ish minutes I was at a small, well kept, shady, grass park within two hundred yards of a small airstrip trying to decide whether food or rest was a more desperate need. Rest won despite requiring that I read the directions on my new poncho-tent.
After a nap, some food from my food bag, a shower in a retrofitted porta-potty (the water was even warm) and a little socialization with a few hikers I’d met previously, I discovered that Tehachapi had a theater and so decided to catch Captain America: Civil War wearing my long undershirt and rain pants since the nearest laundromat is over two miles away. I am hikertrash. The movie was fantastic. So was the jumbo sized soda.
Memories from May 20.
I was cowboy camped (no tent/tarp) last night. There was a lot of wind. Not having a tent acting like a sail was nice and a sleeping person’s profile is low enough that the logs around my campsite kept the worst of it off me. Shortly before sunrise I was getting a little cold and was considering pitching my tarp but the sky was just beginning to lighten so I just rolled over. I did quit camp a little before the others and enjoyed a gorgeous hike down the hill.
Passing over the last hill before Hikertown I discovered one of the more unexpected dangers of the PCT. Wild animals you say? What about gun toting humans (thankfully out of season).
I only have a picture of the entrance to Hikertown since I only stayed there for the day. A trail angel named Bob has set up his acre-ish sized property with a number of small outbuildings like an old Western town.
Bob has a van that he lends to hikers to resupply at a nearby gas station the middle seat is missing so you can pack more people in. The sliding side door doesn’t close and has to be tied with a pice of rope so it’s not always clear that all those people you stuffed into the van on the way out will make it back.
My credit card came with the mail in the afternoon. I wonder if it’s only in America that having a working credit card is tied to emotional well-being. So much for the PCT being an escape from civilization.
After leaving Hikertown, I unexpectedly found the end of the PCT. Who knew Canada was so close?
The trail follows the aqueduct which, if I understand correctly, carries water from Lake Mead by Las Vegas to LA. It was kind of fun walking along and on top of such a massive piece if engineering.
Aqueduct as a canal.
Aqueduct as a pipe.
Aqueduct as a cement path.
I ran across a guy named Hard Way who I’d heard about while talking to Jetpack while waiting for Team Bizzle at the road to Casa De Luna (the Anderson’s). He seemed like a nice guy and so I walked with him the rest of the way to the next water, passing Team Bizzle camped by the side of the aqueduct. We hiked until 11pm since the road was easy to follow and the moon was bright. I did manage to miss two turns but I blame that on trying to hike without my headlamp. It turns out trail signs are reflective which helps a lot.
There were a lot of people camped by the water spigot since it was the first water in 17 miles since Hikertown and was relatively sheltered from the wind despite the windmills looming above.
Memories from May 19
My credit card is due to show up at Hikertown on May 20th so even if I wanted to rush I couldn’t. That’s a nice place to be since today was pretty hot and frequently windless. The views were nice and pretty much par for the course.
After a stop for water at an off trail guzzler (a large, low metal roof which funnels rain into an underground tank), we siesta’ed under another just a few miles away. The roofs are just high enough to crawl under to get out of the sun.
After an hour or two everyone else got antsy and headed out despite it being the heat of the day (all things considered it wasn’t so hot since we’d just gained enough elevation to drop a few degrees and pick up a light breeze again) but I decided to listen to an audio book since I’m behind on my “reading”.
I left the guzzler around 4pm and joined the others at a camp just on the north side of a ridge which was calm when I arrived but was very windy that night. The clouds didn’t seem to threaten rain but made for some interesting effects with the sun which aren’t really conveyed in this picture.
Memories from May 18
The Anderson’s served pancakes and coffee in the morning which caused a lot of dawdling but eventually we started off down the road. Due to a trail closure north of the Anderson’s, we spent most of the day walking road, not trail. The downside is that road is hard on your feet. There were some advantages though.
We found a car for about $10,000 to drive us to Canada.
We saw interesting wildlife.
And stopped for lunch at the Rock Inn which kept a pitcher of Coke full for several hours while we rested from the heat of the day. They also had milkshakes which meant that I stayed back with Sven who had left the Anderson’s after Team Bizzle, Tupac, and myself to order a second round. Gluttony may be a deadly sin in normal life but in trail life, no such thing exists.
Sven and I left the Rock Inn around 5pm and walked the 4.5 miles to where Terrie Anderson had painted the posts at an otherwise unmarked trail so hikers wouldn’t miss them.
We found team Bizzle a mile or so down the trail just before the PCT at the Upper Shake Campground which looks moderately abandoned. The sites had fire rings so I made my first campfire of the trip.
Memories from May 17
I woke up and pretty much just booked it the 11ish miles to the road by 10:45am then waited for Team Jimmy Bizzle as Terminator, Splitter, Fruit Cup, Gargamel, and Texas Tracker have taken to calling themselves.
Despite hiking fast and passing a bunch of people before having them pass me while I was wanting my the road, I took the time to enjoy the morning sun highlighting the valley above which I was walking.
I also almost made a wrong turn. As with many things I get tunnel vision at times and almost missed the PCT sign (right) because I only saw the more prominent and unambiguous sign to the left.
A little before that was my favorite trail marker yet – a PCT sign posted on shovel. Any PCT hiker sees enough trail signs to be a connoisseur.
Despite having only left the Saufley’s the evening before, we were already at another well know trail angel’s: the Anderson’s.
The Anderson’s (the wonderful Terrie Anderson, who welcomes all hikers with a hug and slaps you with a stick if you put your plate over a serving dish at the nightly Taco Salad dinner, is sitting on the porch) proudly display a sign, “Hippie Day Care” which accurately describes the atmosphere as well as the rigor of their operation. I took a GI shower in the stall in their back yard, washed clothes in a bucket by the spigot on the side if the house, and painted a rock at the activity table out front (I’m not an artist so I’m not posting a picture if it). Living up to my trail name, I bought a gallon of milk and more than a half dozen ice cream sandwiches at the gas station instead of the 18packs of PBR fancied my most hikers.
Memories from May 16
That e-mail checking from yesterday notified me that I had some financial matters to resolve and so I couldn’t depart the Saufley’s in the cool early morning as would have been my preference. My credit card has been canceled due to suspected fraud and I arranged for a new one to be sent to Hikertown in four days. I should have said three days but I miscounted and it’ll force me to go slow for a few days which isn’t really a bad thing.
After waiting out the heat of the day, I hit the trail with Terminator, Splitter, Gargamel, and Texas Tracker, around 4:30pm. Fruit Cup was left at the liquor store to finish his ice cream. The trail is initially a road walk out of Agua Dulce which passes by the forward section of a large aircraft.
The trail climbed for a while and we passed a lot of people. The golden hours were beautiful, giving the fields of dry fox foxtails flaxen halos.
I was walking fast and missed the last water supply for 15 miles and had to backtrack a quarter mile.
We camped in a flatish open area just off the trail with a beautiful view.
Memories from May 15
The Saufley’s are a family if trail angel’s who host up to 50 hikers at a time. They go all out. They have a trailer home for hiker use with a shower (sign up list for the shower can run 20 deep), kitchen, 5 porta-poties, a computer/internet tent, a packaging tent (Gatorade and Snickers also available for $1), a mailing center with scale, and racks of storage to hold packages for hikers. The water for the trailer has to be trucked in because the Saufley’s well is on for their house.
The Saufley’s say they have a 50 hiker per night limit. Given that things got a lot busier after this photo, I’m not convinced it’s a strict limit.
I wrote some blog entries, got a new pair of underwear from REI (the Saufley’s rent a van and shuttle hikers to REI twice a day for a recommended $10 donation), checked e-mail, and napped in the shade. It was overcast in the morning which made me want to hike because in this semi-arid environment the shade of clouds makes hiking much easier. My body was really happy for the day off however. I think higher mileage days put more stress on you per mile than shorter mileage days. I guess that sounds obvious in hind sight.
Memories from May 14
I broke camp with Terminator and Co and headed out. The terrain rolled generally downhill. I was feeling like a kid and used a quick shuffle step on the downhills which felt like skiing. The views were pretty standard for this section.
We got to the Acton KOA, and I bought a half gallon of milk and a pair of microwave pizzas. Part way through a sip from the milk jug, Terminator mentioned that they’d noticed I liked milk and thought I should be called Dairy Queen. I doubled over and almost spat milk though my nostrils. With that I was rechristened DQ.
After lunch the Acton KOA we came across the “golden spike” where the PCT was officially declared finished.
Shortly before Agua Dulce, we walked through the Vasquez Rocks.
Just before the outskirts of Agua Dulce, Terminator tried to brush a cactus out of the way like a normal bush. Fruit Cup and I help pick the spines out of his arm.
After that we made it to the Saufley’s. They have a very well run operation given how many hikers they host and how many services they provide. I’ll write about it tomorrow because we plan to zero there. I got a shower and put my clothes in for laundry which was returned to me before I went to sleep.
Memories from May 13
Last night I realized that I had the distance to Acton and Agua Dulce backwards. I’d been planning on resupplying in Agua Dulce and staying there with a family if trail angels named The Saufley’s who are famous for hosting many hikers and having an incredibility well organized operation. Unfortunately, instead of 44 miles away, they’re 54 miles away. I got up as the sky was just lightening, went on a tear and had 13 miles by 9am, 17 miles by 11:30am where I refilled water (there hadn’t been any since the boyscout camp where I stayed last night), 29 miles around 3:30pm when I stopped for an afternoon break, and made it to the next water source, a ranger station 35 miles away by 6:30pm. When I pulled into the small camp by the station, I recognized a bunch of friends eating dinner. It was a huge emotional high. I even arrived in time to get a soda which a volunteer was selling to hikers to supplement the water a local organization cached for free. I know it is a particularly dry year but it seems that the PCT would be a much more difficult undertaking without so many people supporting hikers out of their own means.
Here are a bunch of views from the day.
Pine cone men.
And you though haunted forests were imaginary.
And a bunch of really nice views across the local hills.