PCT mile 537.00 to 549.00
I awoke from a delerious dream that I had spent the day eating, drinking and resting in an air conditioned Wind Turbine field office. I was laying in the blazing sun under a dead Joshua Tree. For some reason my mouth was full of sand and my shoes and pack were nowhere to be seen…
It was still very hot at 4:30 when we all packed up, slathered on sunscreen, thanked our hosts profusely and started walking. This afternoon’s journey will not be flat like yesterday and this morning, instead we’ve got some serious climbing to do. We expect to find a stream flowing in 4.5 miles and there may be a small creek 3 miles later. After that, there is no reported water sources for the next 13 miles. Our goal is to see how much of all this we can do tonight.
I set up my sun-brella expecting others to do the same, but I was informed that I’m the only hiker still carrying one… oh well, I’m bucking the trend. The sun-brella is great as long as one is not walking towards the sun because it tilts back. Well, we had a lot of walking into the setting sun on this hike so I was constantly shifting the umbrella around to keep my head shaded – not only to keep cool, but also for sun protection since I am sure I sweated off all the sunscreen I applied in the first half mile.
Up through the Wind Turbine farm and over a few ridge-lets, we arrived at our first, and possibly only remote water source: a creek in a deep canyon. Double prizes: water and shade!
We snacked here a I drank two and a half liters of water! Then Medic and I were off again while the others were still snacking and packing. We are about to climb up 4,000 feet and will be looking for places to camp along the way.
We hiked until the sun had set and then we hiked by the moon (half moon) light until the trail got a bit uneven. The mountain side in many places was very sandy. When this happens the trail is often just a set of footprints on the slope in front of you and you may slide downhill an inch or so. This is both annoying and worrisome during the day but even more hazardous in the dark, so we broke out the headlamps.
Every now and then on the trail I would see a blueish reflection and learned that at least some spiders have reflective eyes! It was so cool!
After a few hours we had great views of the lights of Lancaster and Palmdale (although I don’t think this picture captures it well.
We hiked over and down a ridge to the second potential water place and found that it had a slight trickle of water. We still had plenty of water and felt the need to reduce tomorrow’s hike distance, so we decided we would keep hiking until we feel we need to stop and then start looking for campsites. We climbed and climbed into the evening.
As we climbed we could see the headlamps arrive at the ridge summit before the creek and we were wondering who it was when we heard Rex give her T-Rex call across the valley :).
At 9:30 we checked our maps and apps and found there is a campsite in over 4 miles. We assumed (Correctly) that was the summit of this ridge, but agreed that If we found a suitable campsite sooner, we’d take it.
We crested the summit And started tracking to PCT mile 649, where the campsite was located. At 11 pm it was quite pleasantly warm with a slight intermittent breeze, we found a few small sandy patches right on the trail and started worrying that this campsite may not be ideal. Then just a few feet away and on on the other side we found a large campsite complete with visitor log, water, snacks, fresh fruit and when chairs. OMG! I grabbed a bottle of water, a bag of cookies and a chair and relaxed. It was awesome because we also had a view of the city lights of Lancaster and the red wind turbine lights. Here’s a picture Medic took Thursday at dawn when Tatters, Rex and Echo arrived.
From left to righ: Dale, Echo, Rex and Tatters. And check out that view!
There really was no wind, which is surprising because we are on a mountain top surrounded by Wind Farms, so I cowboy camped again.
I got an email via my blog from some of the people that maintain the Trail Magic at mile 549, affectionately called the “549 Bar&Grill” and I just want to give them a huge “Thank You!” for your efforts here — it is really appreciated!!! I did not print your names because you sent me a private email, but you deserve public recognition!
I slept great!
Thanks for reading!