It was only a short ten-mile hike into the city of Tehachapi, and when we reached Willow Springs Road at mile 566.4 we were greeted by a trail angel that offered to drive us into town. She dropped us off at Primo Burgers, a place that offers large portion meals for cheap prices. My good friend Peter Carey took who works in the surrounding area as an archaeologist joined us for lunch. After he was done making fun of my apparently amusing stench in front of my new friends, we grabbed a beer at a brewery and played a few games of corn-hole. He dropped me off at the Tehachapi airport where they allow hikers to stay in a grassy area for a small 5 dollar per person fee, and later I met back up with my group at a bar/grill called Big Poppa’s.
A few drinks and a few hours later I thought that I could leave my phone on the bar top and walk around, play a game of pool or two, and everything would be just fine. WRONG! Phone was stolen, I was pissed . . that’s pretty much the gist of it.
Four miles from where we all camped lays a bridge that provides great shade. This is where we would stay for a solid seven hour span to avoid the hottest day on trail thus far.
Once 6pm came around we started moving again, climbing high up into the Mojave Desert mountains towards Tehachapi. We hiked late well passed midnight, eventually stopping at a site that had bottled water and cookies that were cached by a trail angel in the days past.
At mile 523, you find yourself hiking directly along the Los Angeles Aqueduct. If you do this stretch mid-summer, you might want to wait til the latter hours of the day because it is guaranteed to be a hot one. We set out for the trail at 7pm, planning to hike until midnight or even later. But let me first rewind to earlier in the day when the youngest of the group previously mentioned, Splinter, decided she would now tackle the 24/24/24 challenge. Against everyone’s strong opinion NOT TO, she thought she could handle the scorching heat that was sure to hit her the next day. She’s the type that would be encouraged to do something if people tell her not to . . she’s good fun though.
Flash forward to her falling, blaming “that stupid two-inch ledge”, and passing out nearby the scene of the fall eight beers short, with fifteen miles to go, and just over a fourteen hours in the books. Nice try.
As I hiked down into the Mojave floor, I spoke with my Mom and little Sis for a while on the phone. I was very pleased to hear that Mackenzie had made the Junior Varsity volleyball team as an incoming freshman at Los Osos High School! It was a ten-mile descent to get to a place called Hikertown, CA. Hikertown is a unique place, to be pleasant about it . . but there was one too many rats for me to think about a sleepover here. I ran into some friends that I had made back at Casa de Luna, and they were heading a few miles down some road to a place called the Wee Ville Market. Lt. Dan, Rooster, Splinter, Long-Carry, Pistons, and Julia: good people and good times.
Wee Ville is a convenient store/grill with surprisingly good food. We convinced the store owner to open up her mobile home so we could watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and then had a few beers out back from the store to cap off the night.
The soles of my feet were hurting more than ever this morning, so I decided that I might as well try to loosen my laces and see if that couldn’t help. At first I felt no change but after a few miles I actually felt pretty good about it. I had no idea that such a slight change in your shoe could make such a drastic difference!
After about seven miles Diggs decided that the day just wasn’t hers to be had, and that she was going to camp out by a water source we had come across. I was feeling great, so I decided to go on without her. For about eight miles after that I wandered along the trail completely solo, until I came across a lively fellow, “Fish Fry”. Fish Fry is originally from Bishop, CA, and his stories were very “Bishop-like” . . you would only know what that means if you’ve ever met someone from Bishop. It’s not derogatory in any sense, its humorous, and so was he. We hiked for only a few miles, but I would be seeing much more of Fish Fry in the times to come.
I stopped at a campsite overlooking the Mojave Desert from high above, the wind-farm lights flickering down below in sequential fashion. There I found a few recognizable faces and we chatted as we cooked our evenings meals.
The guitarist from Whirl’d, Boomers, gave us a ride back to the trail head around 4pm, a much later start than Diggs and I originally planned for, but oh well. We decided a night hike was in order, and we hiked until about 10:30 that night. The days are becoming much warmer, and we were getting closer to when night hiking was going to be the norm.
We found a spot on an old dirt road to camp, and started setting up our tents when we noticed our creepy little friends who had already set up camp before us. I had never seen so many spiders in my entire life, they were everywhere! They were quarter sized little brown guys, who must have smelled us coming, and boy were they ever eager for the meet and greet. I zipped the tent up a little tighter just before I fell fast asleep.
The first day was a planned zero day at Casa de Luna, the second just sort of happened out of the pure fact that we didn’t want to leave. We regained some weight that we had lost over the past 450 miles, drank some good beer we picked up from the local convenient store and watched some good bands play on night two. The band “Whirl’d” came from the Bay Area and played some funky tunes, and I sat front row happy as a clam. The rest of the time was spent playing frisbee golf, horseshoes, and a little corn-hole.
Today was the best I had felt thus far on the Pacific Crest Trail, I was beginning to feel more and more like an actual hiker! Yikes! My IT Band pain was gone, these New Balance 1260’s were doing the trick and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about it.
The twenty-one miles seemed to blow right by, and before I knew it I had reached the highway that I would hitch down into a true hiker haven, “Casa de Luna”. CDL is run by a magnificent lady, Terry, and her husband Joe. Terry’s house sits on what must be a two acre property, and the entire backyard consists of a trail-like system that has over seventy campsites throughout. When Diggs and I were dropped off there must have been about eighty hikers in the front driveway, sitting on couches and chairs or standing scattered about, everyone with a huge plate of food in front of them.
I spent the night meeting people from all over the country, and many from all over the world. It truly was a great night, spent in a truly special place. All was well in the cosmos.
Attention!!! There is a challenge existing out there for any hiker thinking he or she is capable, but know that this challenge is not for the faint of heart.
Twenty-four miles away from Hiker Heaven is a wonderful place called ‘Casa de Luna’, and some years back somebody got the great idea to drink twenty-four beers, in twenty-four hours while completely the twenty-four mile stretch to the next spot. I am glad that at my prime age of thirty I have grown, even in the slightest bit, to the point where that sounded terrible. Pretty sure twenty-three year old me would’ve been all over this, but not current me. Phew! Close call I thought as I watched as the twenty-something year old’s pack their bags to the brim with Bud Lights and stagger on down the trail.
Leaving that night we only did a few miles to get back onto trail, where we could wake up early in the morning and tackle the remaining twenty or so miles to Casa de Luna.
A short ten miles away from Acton is Agua Dulce, but in between lays a pretty cool spot: Vasquez Rocks. The Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 932-acre park located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains, in northern Los Angeles County. You may know this place from popular movies such as “Blazing Sadles” and or music videos like Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” hit. We came across a popular part of the park to find a massive production in order, I had thought Beyonce must be there filming or maybe even the Rolling Stones; it was that large! But, it was some no-name rapper, Vince Staples. Who? Exactly.
We arrived into Agua Dulce and found the nearest restaurant, filled our bellies and ended the evening at Hiker Heaven, a pretty cool place that opens their doors to hikers. Diggs and I arrived pretty late, every other hiker was already in his or her tent falling asleep. We broke their only rule, show up before 10pm. Oops.