17 days and 250 miles
11.05.2012 - 27.05.2012 90 °F
I haven't had a chance to get online for a while, but I have made it to Kennedy Meadows. This feels like the first really big achievement of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Yeah I have hit the small towns and each one I come to feels like an achievement all of its own, and I have gotten as far as hiking 27.5 miles in one day, but these don't qualify as the big achievements. I am getting a little ahead of myself though, I should update on all the shortcomings of the last 17 days.
After leaving the Saufleys at 1600, it was a good road walk before hitting the trail, and of course, rather than being on the trail, on the road, I see my first rattlesnake of the hike. It was a tiny little thing and I could hardly even hear it, but certainly noticed it. It made Rubs jump about 3 feet over towards the road. After that, we kept on hiking and I ended up pretty far ahead of him. About 1845 before coming down to where camp for the night would be, I heard this high pitched shrieking that sounded like a woman screaming. I didn't know what it was and called back a couple times, but didn't get any response besides more shrieks. Without any calls back, I kept hiking, with a watchful eye over my shoulder and ears perked listening for anything. I made the road at 2000 and waited for Rubs and Southern. As I waited, I began to here a couple more shrieks near me. So I was getting a little freaked. Finally about 2130, I saw these guys head lights coming down the hillside, so I knew they were coming and was relieved! We hiked just a little further to find a flat spot and not be right near cars and camped after about 11.5 miles of hiking.
The next day we got the 12.5 miles into Green Valley. A tiny little town where the Andersons live. Now this place was completely different from the Saufley Trail Angel House. These two call themselves the Hippie Daycare and that is exactly what it was like. Now, I am not sure how many of you know me well enough, but I hardly ever drink and haven't ever done a drug or smoked, but I have no problem sitting back and laughing at all the craziness that can ensue around me. So the Andersons was a nice break. We took a 0 and did NOTHING at all. It was very nice. The next day, Joe Anderson got up at 0600 to give Rubs, Southern, Clay, and I to the trailhead and we were back to things. We hiked a good 24 mile day to find terrible water all day long at a yellow water guzzler and the red rock water tank with 2 inches of water containing dead lizards and dead mice. But we had passed mile 500 to 502.7. We were on a roll! I was off early the next morning and it was such a gorgeous morning. It was beautiful green mountain top meadows with frolicking Deer. I'd been seeing tracks from them for some time, but this was the first I got to see them, 3 of them. After that, it was a long downhill before a terrible up and down trail in dead heat, warm wind, and teasing views of where we needed to go.
Eventually we hit Hikertown, a wonderful little trail angel house where we rested for the afternoon and took some wonderful showers. This was the last stop before following the LA aqueduct and hiking in the flat desert for 25 miles. So we left at about 1800 and hiked for 3 hours in the sunset and beginning of the evening. We walked directly on the aqueduct, and when we decided to find a spot to sleep for the evening, we figured it would be a good idea to sleep on top of one of the 3 foot from the ground cement boxes, no snakes would sneak up on us in out sleep there! Little did we know that it would be one of the windiest nights we had encountered. I almost lost my pack, but caught it before it got too far away from me, tied all my things to it and kept it close the rest of the night, pretty much, we got 4 hours of sleep. It was not a fun night. But we were off in the morning with a few morning clouds that quickly dispersed by 0800. Though we did come to find out that there was water at the next two water sources that we heard were either not flowing or questionable. So that was a good pick up! We made it to the wind farm and got some water, lost the trail a couple times because the construction workers just bulldoze right over the trail, though we kept the trail. This was one of the toughest days I had on the trail. The morning after little sleep, the endless sunlight for the last 4 weeks, the hot days, and the stretches of carrying loads of water, it was getting to me. It took a while to get to Tyler horse canyon, but I made it and we rested there until nearly 1700. A 6 hour break filled with food, water, and sleep! It was a huge refreshment. We hiked out a few more miles after that to make an easier day the next day. On this day I was out hiking before 0500, wanting to avoid the heat on the climb out of the canyon we slept in, which worked well. It was a great climb and a pretty good morning. All except for the 45 average wind speed that was blowing from my left to right side, which had a top speed of 63 miles per hour. It was not the most fun hiking.
I hit the Tehachapi Willow Springs Road and got a hitch quickly into Tehachapi. I gave my mom and call and she was online and found the Post Office which was pretty far from downtown. I got a new sleeping bag that is rater to 15 degrees farenheit and some new maps and food from my parents. It was a great mail pick up! I love my parents. I then found my way to meet up with Rubs, Southern, Running Wolf, and The Colonel who were getting lunch. We decided to stay the night in town and Rubs put us up in a little motel. It was a mellow night and good to shower and sleep in a bed. We called up a trail angel and were able to set up a ride for the morning to get us back to the trail! After a great nights sleep, we got some breakfast and were off again! After hiking from Willow Springs Road to Highway 58, we stayed under the shade of a bridge to relax in some cool air for a while. Later we set off up from Tehachapi Pass. It was a good evening climb and we made decent time. We were hoping to make it to a "Sweet Ridge" just a few miles before our next water source, but after Rubs saw his first bear in the woods, we quickly found a camp and made up for the night. It was the first night using my new sleeping bag, and Corley had hidden a little note inside the bag when she surprised my mom and mothers day. It was so sweet and wonderful. I was so happy! Corley is just the best that there is and I love her so much. She makes me so happy. I was lucky enough to have cell service and we were up late chatting for my first night with my warm bag. Thanks for that night my love. The next day we made the spring and filtered some water to make it another 21 miles to the Robin Bird Spring. It was a tough day with some big climbs, and after myself and Rubs seeing another bear, we made camp and Southern caught up eventually.
From here, it was a 35 mile stretch with no water on trail, no natural water on trail. There was the possibility of some caches, but we were so far in front and them being caches, did not want to rely upon them to be stocked. So we carried water for 24 miles to get to a Willow Springs Road where we could walk 1.8 miles one way off trail to get water. About 6 miles before there though, at 1600, we hit the first water chache, which had water. It was from there 15 miles to another possible water cache and 28 miles to the next possible water source. So instead of planning to hit Willow Spring Road, we packed out 7 liters of water to make the next source. And we tried to make that next cache that night. Leaving at 1730, we tried to hike 15 miles in STRONG headwind that slowed us down. At some point in here, I was lucky enough to see a mountain lion high tailing it down the hillside just down from me, running away from me. At midnight we had made about 13 miles. We were moving slow and decided to find a protected spot to sleep, which wasn't very well protected. We had hiked 27.5 miles that day. In the morning we were off again after the rough night and the water cache, only 2 miles from our camp, had water! Only 20 miles to the road, so we packed enough water to make it to Walker Pass. After the big climb up to Skinner Peak, it was a nice, but slow hike in the morning. I was just wanting to hit the road so bad my mind wasn't on walking, just getting there. It tested my patience and really worked me mentally. After a short lunch break, I was off again on a nice hike. Not too much up and not too much down.
I hit the road at 1600 and got a ride at 1612 from a very questionable guy. He gave Rubs and I a ride and we both were worried for our lives a couple times. We made it to the wonderful little town of Lake Isabella, about 33 miles West of the trail, where our bodies were ready for a couple days off. We had hiked 175 miles in 8 days with not much break in there. So we got a motel room for the three of us and enjoyed a couples days off! We made the long, but definitely worth while walk to Neldas where they have a shake menu with over 100 shakes on it. It was awesome! The next day was filled with laying in bed and being lazy as can be. By 1600 I had gotten out of bed 4 times to use the bathroom and that was it. It was a glorious day. The next, we resupplied food and got a hitch back to the trail so easy! It was awesome. Southern and I were back to the campground at about 1400 and just relaxed. He had bought us all dinner that he would cook up in the fire, so we searched for fire wood for a while. Rubs eventually made it to camp and Southern made use baked potatoes, steaks, and an apple pie for desert! It was so great. Bodies felt much better!! Next day was right back to hiking. We started off easy and hiked a nice 18 miles to Spanish Needle Creek. We were able to get water and find a spot out of the wind, but not very flat. I still got some sleep. We woke up with some thick cloud cover. Getting up to 7000 and in the clouds, it was cold enough that the condensation in the air was freezing on the trees, then wind would come up and blow the icicles into your face quite forcefully. It wasn't that fun. We came down from it to get water and a nice cache with some soda! Then it was a 2000 foot climb up followed by 1000 down to camp after 24 miles, leaving 8.8 miles to get into Kennedy Meadows. Now Oddball and Copernicus were with us, who we have been passing back and forth off and on for a while. Waking up, there was condensation and frost everywhere. It was cold and wet, so I packed up slowly and got on my way to make it into Kennedy Meadows, excited with every step to have made it so far to such an awesome spot. I made the road into town at 0900 and walked into the General Store.
This is a huge step on this journey. I am getting into the High Sierra Mountains when I leave here and am on my way to the highest points in the lower 48 of the United States. A fair amount of people drop out by this point for various reasons. The next huge point in my journey will be the half way point at 1330 miles. I am at 702 miles. After that it will be the Oregon Boarder. Then the Washington Boarder. Then Canada. I am now out of this dang desert and into mountains where there will be so much water and high altitude and cold nights. It will be an amazing experience. It will all be up and down and push my body to even further limits than it has been pushed already. But it will be gorgeous. One of the toughest parts will be the lack of cell service. I miss Corley so much already and know how much I have been putting a strain on our relationship by being away and not being able to be there with her. I love her very much and don't want to be with anyone else. I just hope that she can hold on to this while I am away because I truly just want to get home and have her and I be together. I may not be able to update this again for a long time, so keep me in your prayers and I will be up enjoying one of the most beautiful parts of this country! Happy Trails!