The day prior we woke up around 5:30 with the winds still blowing hard. With our packs stuffed to the brim we were ready to continue walking, except for one of us. Diggs had decided she would sleep in and catch up with us later in the day. We were at mile 569.8, and we wouldn’t be running back into Diggs until mile 702 when we’d arrive at Kennedy Meadows. That’s just how it goes sometimes. You think you’ll catch up with certain people, or that they’ll catch back up with you, but you never really know when it might be the last time you see a friend.
The first five miles of the day were tough, about a 1,200-ft climb followed by a small drop and another climb. The views of the desert were amazing though, as you climbed along these ridges high in sky you would stop often to observe the beauty of the seemingly unproductive landscape. We had a fourteen mile hike to Golden Oaks Spring at mile 583.3. We thought it would be a good idea to take a midday siesta and rest here for a while to wait out the burning sun. There were plenty of other hikers who had the same thought, everyone was scattered about in the shade either sleeping or eating a hearty portion of tuna wraps filled with cheese and/or some other deliciously filthy food. This spot was nice though, it felt good to be amongst a dozen or so other hikers, and the water wasn’t too bad. It was an old trough for cattle that was fed by a natural spring. As long as you didn’t take water out from the trough itself and grabbed from the pipe leading in, you were in good shape.
Once the sun’s heat started to ease up and we realized Diggs wasn’t going to be catching up with us for the day we headed back out, this time descending down to where we would eventually camp. It was a very enjoyable end of the day, I was happy to be with my new trail family. Looking back everything that evening seemed perfect, that it had all fallen into place and I was exactly where I needed to be.
Sometimes it is difficult to make a day seem interesting when in reality it was everything but. This is one of those days. I hiked up, I hiked down . . I hiked all around. I drank water and ate food . . SO . . let’s talk about the food that I usually consume throughout a day.
I like to start off the day with some sort of protein. For a while I was buying the Protein Cliff Bars, which are actually better tasting than the regular Cliff Bars (not so great tasting). Mini muffins are great to start off the day or just regular old cereal works as well.
Tortillas wraps are the go-to out here. Usually I put a pouch of tuna inside with some cut cheese, pepperoni or some other smoked sausage is a great addition too. If there are chips I usually will throw some on top to get a little crunch, sounds strange but it’s not bad. Oh and hot sauce, on everything, always.
Ramen. All sorts of variations of Ramen noodles. Sometimes I throw in instant potatoes with my Ramen, sometimes I throw in Stove Top stuffing, other times drop a little couscous inside. You have to get clever or you will get sick of it!
Your standards of what you think is edible drop significantly out here, you are looking for calories and a lot of them! When you shop as a hiker it is the complete opposite than when you shop in your past life, you look for the most calories for your buck. Healthy foods are nice, but they usually are heavy and expensive. Think lightweight high calorie items and you got it.
Not much to say about day 50 other than I looked for my phone unsuccessfully, got sushi at Ichiban Sushi (highlight of Tehachapi), went to Kmart, and ate Del Taco for dinner. Day 51 I hiked with Lt. Dan, Rooster, and Diggs for an eight mile stretch while a few of the others stayed back and decided to cut out those eight miles. Being a ‘Purist’, or someone who won’t skip an inch, this is out of the question. After those eight miles you come down to HWY 58, known to some as the starting point of Cheryl Strayed. Three miles past that is where we camped, at a very poor campsite completely exposed to the harsh winds the night would provide.
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.