Sunday, May 7 — day 42

PCT mile 592.95 to 613.0

I awoke at first light, 5am, and could hear a light rain falling, so went back to sleep hoping it would stop so I could pack without dealing wit rain.  Twenty minutes later it stopped, so I seized the moment and exited my tent to…. a dusting of snow!

Have a seat, because I got a lot of snowy shots to show you 🙂

I followed a quail on the trail for quite a ways…

Most of the moisture from this storm wa in the form of fog and froze to the trees creating a late-season winter wonderland

I was first Hiker on the trail this morning so all the ice and dew on the trailside soaked my feet. My toes were freezing!!! I would forcibly curl my toes with each step to try and stay warm.  As the sun came out and a slight breeze picked up the ice began to rain from all the trees.  I had to don my rain jacket and hood to keep the ice from chilling me further.  I captured an icefall on video (I hope this posting works)

My feet warmed even while soaked and eventually they dried completely – yay!

I resupplied my water at Robin Bird Spring, which had a handy pipe to allow easier collection


The sky almost cleared up and the intermittent sun was great to have!  It remained cool all day which made the hiking very nice!  Here’s some Douglas Phlox and a pretty forest meadow filled with sage.

I setup camp and soon Medic arrived to join me.  We had another beautiful sunset and some nice flowers – I’m not sure what these are called.

There were clouds nearby so I set up my tent with the rain fly, but left the vestibule door open for ventilation.  Sure enough a few hours after dark I was awoken by the sound of a light rain and quickly closed the vestibule door.  It stopped raining soon and I slept great.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 6 — day 41

PCT mile 572.92 to 592.95

I awoke and found my ridgetop campsite in a cloud

As I hiked, I could hear the wind turbines grinding away but I could not see them.  I was reminded of the film “Battle of the Bulge” where Henry Fonda goes in search of the German Panzer division by flying through the fog in a plane, stops the engine and listens.  Ok, not quite the same, but I know he hey are there but I just st can’t quite see them.

The fog lifted, but there was a persistent and growing cloud cover which kept the temperature down (yay!) but raised concerns of rain or even snow.

The trail led through some beautiful areas where the Miners Lettuce was dying off in a pink splendor 

And a bit further up the trail I came across Bear tracks

I kept my eyes peeled but did not see the bear.  Rats!

At the next water sorce I found a very fat and content frog- my guess is that this source will soon have eggs and then tadpoles…

I chose to get my water a bit further upstream from that plastic jug capturing the spring trickles.

I found another friend today!

I love these guys!

I also found a non-friend just in time: this one’s rattle is not developed enough to make a noise.

That’s rattlesnake number 8!

I set up camp and decided not to coyboy camp – the weather was too threatening.  Medic showed up and camped nearby.  It started raining at 8 pm.  And when I awoke…. well, that’s part of tomorrow’s story….

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 5 — day 40

PCT mile 558.51 to 572.92

We raided the free hotel breakfast and I especially focused on enjoying bottomless Orange Juice — something attractive about sweet fluids these days :).

Medic wanted to run some errands so I decided to hit the trail.  I tried hitchhiking at the main intersection in downtown Tehachapi but was not having much luck, so I started writing a text to a person who offers rides to the trail heads for a fee.  As I was typing, and therefore not thumbing, a car pulls over and the driver says “where can I take you?”.  I love this town!  His name is Martin and he’s a trail angel who drove me back to where I left — the cost?  A photo of the two of us

The hike from here was through even more Wind Turbine farms


And cow pastures.
With reminders of which way to go…

I dropped back down ooze of the mountains to Hwy 58 – this is the spot that Cheryl Strayed started her PCT hike, and sure enough, in the hiker register box is her signature 

Although… I think she hiked her PCT sections in 1995, not 1998….  

Trail Angels left oranges for us hikers and even though it was a bit sunburnt, I enjoyed it!   The next part of the hike followed the highway and I saw an interesting dried mud flat

And a bunch of great flowers

Here’s a look back at the wind farms

I also saw one of my favorites again

And a great view of where I came from.

I hiked up into this new ridge late into the afternoon and just before I arrived at my campsite I came across rattlesnake number 7 — or at least part of it…

I tried to get a response by poking it with my hiking poles, but it seems he/she was so preoccupied with being in the hole it did not care. Later I went back and found no trace of the snake.

I camped on top of the windy ridge in an area sheltered by some trees — they did a good job because it was windy tonight!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 4 — day 39

PCT mile 549.00 to 558.51

We awoke before dawn and while packing were joined by Rex, Tatters, Echo and Corky. They were suitably amazed by the Trail Magic at the PCT mile 549 water cache. We hit the trail and soon I was leading with the thought of cold drinks and BBQ on my mind. After a few more miles of up, we finally ran out of mountain and the trail started going down. We saw houses nearby the top that we presume belonged to the Trail Angels.

Here are some view shots: down to another set of wind farms

in another set of wind farm turbines

The fire that raged through here left a lot of tall stumps

And a view of a ranch in a green valley

I started off hiking behind another I will not name but noted that he/she shuffled their feet while waking, creating a dust cloud for those who followed.  I silently gave them a new trail name: Pigpen (from the Charlie Brown comics).  I decided to speed up and stop eating trail dust.

I hiked the fastest so far this trip and by 9:30 am I had hiked the 9.5 miles down to the road. I sat, ate breakfast, drank water and waited for the others to arrive. After a while Medic showed up. We had a decision to make: we can hitchhike to Tehachapi here, or pick off 8 more very dry miles to another road and hitchhike to Tehachapi from there. It was getting very hot, and we know the temperature will be dropping over the next few days, and well, there’s fresh food and water so close, so we wimped out and decided to head directly to Tehachapi.  As we were about to go, the biggest King Snake I have ever seen glided by slowly, but when I tried to get my camera ready he/she took off into a bush so fast – sorry, no photo.

It did not take long to catch a ride, and we learned that the people of Tehachapi are so nice! Our driver is a local who gave us a crash tour of the city and dropped us off at the Post Office. Medic has packages of snow equipment (heavy boots, crampons, ice axe and snow gaiters) arriving here that he needs to forward to Kennedy Meadows.  We found a very helpful guide for people just like us:

Tehachapi is a spread out town and the Post Office is one one edge of town, so we hitched a ride back to town he center where there are restaurants and hotels. We grabbed a room at one of our he multiple Best Western’s and showered and laundered our clothes. Too bad I don’t have extra shorts or I could have gone for a dip in the pool. 

We headed out to the supermarket and the Big 5 for resupply foods. I’ve been eating a dried oat bar and a Lara or Luna bar for breakfast, plus I have Starbucks Via should I want a coffee. I got tired of instant oatmeal and pop-tarts after a few week.

For lunch., which is not at a scheduled time but is usually snacking all day, I have nuts, beef jerky, a Snickers bar, misc candy, and a Knd bar. Dinner is salami, string cheese, corn nuts and a cookies for dinner. Medic gave me a big bar of Swiss Milk Chocolate so I now have 2 squares as dessert. I sometimes have Good Earth tea.  I know, not the best diet, but so far so good!  Anyways, I pig out when in town.

We returned to the hotel to sort the food. I also tried to challenge my food quantity because it looks and weighs too much to be 4 days of food — I cut a few items but still think I have too much.
The sunset tonight was great, as usual

We visited the Tehachapi evening Farmers Market and bought fresh fruit and sampled the local micro-breweries IPA — very good! Dinner was at the Red House as recommended by one of my blog readers who lives here. The pork ribs and brisket was fantastic!

We slept well last that night!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 3 — day 38 — Part 2 (Wed evening)

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…  

Just kidding!

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!

Wednesday, May 3 — day 38 — Part 1 of 2 (the first half of Wed)

PCT mile 529.42 to 536.98

The night was calm and warm. Medic and I awoke around 5:15 am and started packing. We greeted Echo as he came sauntering by, and in a minute or so heard him greeting Doc and Zero who unbeknownst to us had camped about 50 yards down the trail.  

The sunrise was glorious!

We passed an abandoned water cache (note the empty jugs) — the PCT Water Report is continually reminding us not to rely on water caches — sometimes the run out and/or are abandoned.

We hiked the few miles to the water source which was a tap into the LA Aqueduct.    The PCT Water Report warns that this source will be dry if the acqueduct is not flowing.  It had water, but looked cloudy and had lots of vegetable matter flowing in it.  I drank all my remaining water and filled up again and Doc and I had Breakfast.  We found Rex and Tatters camping here — they arrived at 2am.

We were discussing the days plans when Tatters pointed out that the PCT crossed land managed by a local Wind Farm Company, Manzana Wind, and if we head over to their main office nearby we could score good, fresh coffee.  Medic and I thought about it for a second and agreed “We’re in!”.

Along the way I captured some of the local flowers: here is creosote 

And more:

While admiring the flowers I came across a Sphinx Moth

These moths are the size of hummingbirds, hover and dart around like hummingbirds, and feed on flower nectar.  They are so cool.  This one was still trying to warm up so I was able to carefully pick him up.

We followed roads, motorcycle trails and some cross-country terrain to get to the building and were warmly greeted.  They offered us coffee, water, Gatorade, shade, wi-fi, air conditioning and even put us in an office.  Rex and Tatters were already here, Echo arrived with Medic and me, and Corky and Doc arrived soon after. 


(Rex, Medic, Tatters and Corky)

I was happy too!

The site manager was filling us in on how the wind turbines work, about the site, the company and everything.  We were so grateful for everything we kept thanking them.  He asked how long we might be staying, as it is getting warm outside, then quickly offered to set up cots in the conference room so we could take naps!  It gets better!!!  He then said he’s driving into town to get us all lunch and returns an hour-plus later with 6 pizzas, root beer and ice cream!  

Since the name Hiker Heaven was already taken, we dubbed this Hiker Nirvana!  While scarfing pizza and root beer someone suggested that in reality we actually are all lost in the desert, dehydrated and delirious eating sand and thinking we’re sitting and feasting in an air conditioned office.  Oh, and only one day away from having had a shower we all stink…

Well nap time — we head out at about 4pm to log more 10 miles!

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, May 2 — day 37

PCT mile 517.60 to 529.42

Today I tried to sleep in but the sunlight just would not let me, so I got up, took a shower and packed my pack. Medic arrived yesterday afternoon and we decided that since the temperature will be in the 90’s today, we will leave after 3pm and hike as far as we can into the night. We’ve got a 16 mile journey to the first water across the desert. Well try to do half of it tonight and the other half tomorrow morning.

Doc, Zero and others arrived late yesterday so we crammed about 7 people into an old minivan to get breakfast at the cafe down the road.  While waiting outside for our eggs and such Doc made the rounds giving shoulder massages.  He’s got a good sense of where the tightness is and some powerful fingers to deal with the muscle knots he finds.  Ahhhhh…

We returned to HikerTown to chill and await lunch and our departure time.  I updated blogs, recharged my electronics and napped in the breezy shade. At 10am it did not seem that hot and I entertained the thought of heading out early, but then it suddenly started getting warmer and I could see the wind turbines 15-20 miles away where I am headed spinning quickly- so lots of wind too… soooo, back to napping!

Doc showed us his sunburn treatment:  juice from a can of French-cut Green Beans… Here he is treating Goat’s face, Tatters’ nose and Corky’s forehead.  They reported that it worked!

We crammed 9 people into that same minivan and drove down the road to get a late lunch.  One lunch offering I have never seen before was deep fried avocado slices…

By the time we got back it was 4:00. Medic and I headed out.  

We quickly came to the California Aqueduct, a cement sided river running from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Los Angeles, which we followed for a few miles.

Then we the came upon the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which crosses the California Aqueduct.  The LA Aqeduct is a semi buried steel pipe with the PCT on top.  First here’s looking to where we are going and then where we came from (with Medic)

You know you are truly in the Mojave Desert when you see Joshua Trees

I came across this cool bug – I think it iscalled a “True Bug”

Our shadows grew long as we hiked into the evening.

We came upon a herd of range cows as the sun was setting 

At about 8:45, wit 12 miles logged and with a half-moon lighting out way, we decided to make camp.  We found a nice sandy spot for me to lay out my groundcloth and Medic his tent and we drifted off to sleep interrupted by coyotes yipping and some late night hikers passin us by (Rex, Tatters, Corky, Doc and Zero).

Thanks for reading!