May 22, 2017
Tehachapi – Mile 572.92 (558.51-572.92)
Today was a hard day. Waking up this morning was a long, slow, and difficult process. When I finally managed to get myself out of bed, we went and got breakfast, and started getting ready to head back out to the trail. This is probably the heaviest our packs have ever been. Our food bags are freshly stuffed with 5 days worth of food, and this stretch began with a 25 mile dry stretch, so we also had to somehow cram about 11 pounds worth of water into our packs as well. I could barely fit everything in.
We left the hotel and began walking down the main street of town, trying to get a hitch. We got picked up pretty quickly by this sweet old German man, who agreed to drive us right out to the trailhead. He had tons of fun information about the surrounding area that he shared with us as we drove. I actually love hitching, you get to meet so many amazing people.
We got dropped off at the trailhead and started walking. It was immediately painful. It was already about 9:30, so the day was hot, and my pack weighed painfully on my back. The trail wound up into hills dotted with wind turbines, and every step was a struggle for me. I only made it 2.5 miles before a small patch of shade under a shrub beckoned to me, and I wedged myself under its branches and promptly passed out for about half an hour. I forced myself to sit up, eat an apple, and drink some electrolytes, and then kept moving.
I felt a lot better after my rest, but it was still brutally hot and sunny, and pretty tough going. I found Gummies, Cougar, and Dr. McDirty resting on a bench and joined them for a while. After that there was some nice downhill, and then a road walk to the highway. I found the others stopped on the other side of the highway crossing, eating lunch. I had suddenly become starving, so I sat down to eat as well. There was absolutely no shade, and it was pretty miserable. My brand new block of cheese was already deformed and floating in a pool of cheese sweat. There was a small water cache, so I let myself chug some of my water, although it was boiling hot so that wasn’t super enjoyable either.
As we were sitting there, a trail angel pulled up to drop off some water for the cache. He told us that if we continued down the trail for about a mile, there was a spot where we could get under the highway and get some shade. We all immediately leapt up and made for the shade. Of course, he forgot to mention that the underpass area was blocked off with barbed wire, but that wasn’t going to stop us. Gummies and I crawled under the fence, while Cougar and Dr. McDirty somewhat more skillfully climbed over. The shade felt glorious and we all threw down our packs and collapsed in the dirt.
I think we laid there for 3 hours. It was amazing. I read a couple chapters of my book, napped, and looked at what’s ahead on the trail. We were in no hurry to head back out into the heat, especially since we were stopped at the base of a massive climb. When we finally left, we would ascend almost 3000 feet in elevation over the next 5 miles.
It always amazes me how high we can climb without really realizing how much we’re climbing. I definitely felt the uphill, but it was still pretty amazing to watch as the highway we had been sheltering under an hour ago became a tiny ribbon of asphalt, winding far below, populated with tiny toy cars. We switched up into the mountains as the sun slowly sank below the ridgeline.
I have really been loving hiking into the evening these past few days. It’s so peaceful, and the cool air of evening feels sooo good after the heat of the day. Once we got up into the hills, the trail became less steep, and super beautiful. The windmills spun below us, lit in the purpleish light of sunset. The trail wound along the top of the ridge, dotted with Joshua trees and sharp outcrops of rock.
The sunset tonight was incredible. It was so epic that we had to stop and sit for a while to take it in. It was definitely the best subset we’ve had yet on trail. The desert sky was lined with clouds, which lit up in bright pinks, oranges, and yellows as the sun dipped below the horizon. It was pretty magical, and I felt so happy and grateful to get to call this place my home for a while.
We made it to our campsite shortly after our sunset break, and were happy to find it was within a little grove of trees. It’s a pretty windy night, but we’re nice and sheltered in here. The four of us are all cowboy camping, and there’s another couple in a tent who were already asleep when we arrived. We all sat a little ways away from camp to eat dinner in the dark so we wouldn’t disturb them. I think ramen is my favourite trail dinner. It’s just so simple and delicious.
It’s pretty late now and I’m exhausted. So ready for a good night’s sleep on the trail. Going to try to get up early tomorrow to get some miles in before the heat picks up. Tomorrow is supposed to be another hot one.