Hello lovely readers, we are a day away from Kennedy Meadows and the start of the Sierra!!! We are very excited about the end of the desert. Problem is is that we have been having very limited reception since Tehachapi and have been unable to update the blog. We are still writing everyday and promise to give you more posts as soon as we can. Cheers Quiz and the gang xx
Today was awesome!! We had finished the day before with great views of desert mountains and 5:30am this morning we optimistically descended into the valley. At breakfast 4 miles down the road we hit the first cash. A sobo hiker the day before had informed us that both had ‘hundreds of gallons’ however when we got there, there were only two gallons left. We were alright but felt sorry for the hiker behind us. Jamie, a guy hiking with us wants to do a 30 mile day so we say goodbye to him and walk on, the six of us.
Today was undulating and exposed with amazing views north to snowy mountains and south to the Mojave and Mt Baldy. We walked across desert mountains, it was sandy, which made for some slow, frustrating walking, but the grade was so gentle and gratifying that it didn’t bother us too much. We realised, now back in he desert, that we were still just north of the Mojave, with views south to Mt Baldy and Mt Baden Powell. It’s strange to see these mountains so close again, 60 miles as the crow flies. The PCT has taken us on such a round about journey. But il glad we didn’t walk across 60 miles of straight desert.
Above: interesting desert flora and fauna
We had lunch under a giant tangled Joshua Tree and rested for a couple of hours. In the afternoon we climbed our second last incline, the sand reaching its worst. We got views down desert valleys and crossed many motor bike paths. On the way down we reach the second water cash for the day. There is way more stored at this one and we all have lots to drink and one last break before the final climb. At this stage we have already walked 31km but the day has been so nice we hardly notice it in our bodies.
The wind has picked up considerably and we decide to climb the next steep incline and camp on top of the ridge. It’s a fair slog but the switch backs get us there and 600m in elevation later we have wonderful views of the high Sierra. I can’t explain how amazing it feels to see this view after all this desert walking all the way from Mexico.
Our tentsite is slightly exposed and precarious. We all cowboy camp, all six of us in one big long cute line and tell jokes and eat lots of food! Fun times!
Night walking combined with 10hrs sleep over 2 days, a hole in my sleeping mat and terrible PMS has made me (Quiz) a crazy banshee from hell. Big love and apologies have been given to the rest of PCT girl gang for my craziness and fraught emotional state. I have cried a lot since we left Tehachapi, 90% at night. Night walking when you are bringing up the rear and are not carrying a tent is hard emotionally, you get behind and feel very alone and vulnerable. But (!) today my PMS broke (phew) and we only did an hour of night hiking in the morning, in which my torch died. Damn equipment fails.
By the time we stopped for breakfast we had transitioned from chaparral into beautiful open pine forest, only this particular area was also full of cow pats. We were the first to leave camp and by the time we had finished breakfast the rest of our extended gang had caught us. Goliath/Bob has been vomiting and sweating all night and was not in good shape, although this morning not feeling sick and moving at a good pace.
Apparently we did over one km of climbing today but the only one I noticed was the climb after breakfast which was long steep exposed and hot. It did bring us to the top of a beautiful valley with pines extending forever, rocky outcrops and big vast mountains in the distance, snowy ones just visible on the horizon. We also passed mile 600, holy moly we are some awesome hiking ladies!
Perc and I had a break a Robin Bird Spring before hiking deep into the beautiful forest, the trail hidden under pine needles, light dappled, birds singing everywhere and squirrels and chipmunks darting about. Waster was everywhere, the most abundant it has been all trail and a nice change from the hot dry desert of the last week. We walked steadily downhill to our midday siesta rendezvous point at Landers Creek. When I arrived Princess Layer and Justin had set up his tarp and it really did seem like an oasis. We had walked 15 miles by 1200, yew!
It was had to tear ourselves away from such an idyllic place, Pinecone and Jamie napped while I located and fixed the hole in my mat in the stream. Layers read her book and Justin hid in the shade of a huge bolder weighing items from his pack. We ran into Felix and Andy from Germany who we waited out the head with on day 5 at Scissors Crossing and haven’t seen again since. Andy is still carrying his soft toy wingless dragon.
At 3.30 we finally got back on track and walked the last 5 miles to camp. The forest ended in a burn area which left the rocky outcrops the trail passed through sandy and exposed. The views were incredible and it was hard to stay on track my eyes where drawn to the horizon so often. Just as our campsite was getting close we plunged back into unburnt forest and came upon a beautiful campsite next to a big rocky outcrops and views galore!!!
We also got reception, which was important as we had not seen dave or Goliath all day and word from other hikers was that Goliath was too sick to walk on and was looking at maps to find a way to walk out. I called and texted them both to find that dave had stayed with Goliath (trail angle dave) at robin bird spring and they are walking out tomorrow to hitch back to tehachapi. Goliath is tough, good luck to them, I wish we had done more to help. Now to cowboy camping in a line of 5 and watching the stars come out. Xo
After at most 4.5 hours of sleep we woke. The alarm sounded and in automode we packed up our things and headed back to the trail. The night had swept over us as we slept under the stars, wind occasionally rustling our sleeping bags and exposed heads.
The beginning of day begun on the road we had been on the night before. In the morning light we didn’t fall over, we just climbed. Trees protecting us from the wind. At the top, just before we entered back into the wind farm we stopped for breakfast. No coffee today, the day break we were taking was not far off and we wanted sleep to come easily. The next few kms are a blur of exhaustion and lack of inspiring lands. After sometime putting one foot in front of the other we crossed a road and down a sleep slope a bunch of hikers appeared. In the early morning, it was not about 9 am we huddled around the water trough which has spring feeding it. We filtered water and found a large, old oak to make home for the day. We lay out our ground sheet, got out our sleeping bags, and lay down to rest. Harriet found an old bakery van and she and Perk made that they’re shelter for the day. We slept until 1 pm, waking occasionally to eat some snacks and reposition our tired bodies.
As the afternoon progressed the shade disappeared. We rigged up Justin’s tarp to make some more shade and cooked a dinner for our lunch. The hours passed with chats and laughter, attempts to read and more filtering water. Eventually at 5 ok we left Golden Oaks Spring and headed into the on coming evening.
The land was ancient looking, a place in which the wind turbines have replaced dinousours. We followed the trail round the ridges and took a break as the sun set out over some beautiful mountains. We walked only another few kms, 6 at max to a grove of oaks. In the dark we layed out the ground sheet and set up our mats. We lay our heads down and slept. Night walking is exhausting and interesting for only the first couple of hours, while the sun sets. We are excited to return to normal walking hours tomorrow.
Pinecone 🌲 blogging rn! We woke up to a leisurely breakfast with Goliath who had got us some pastries from the local bakery. The rest of the day was spent idle in Tehachapi running last minute errands. I watched the webinar on the Sierras for 2017. This is the largest snow year since 1973! Amazing, I can’t believe we are giving it a go. The webinar is actually really informative and gives you some confidence if anything, breaking down how to cross flooded rivers and all the potential routes out of the mountains and back to civilisation.
At 2pm we vacate the hotel and head to the park. It’s over 100•f today and we need to wait for the sun to chill out before we hit the trail again. Our hiking group has grown! We now have Justin, Jamie, Perk (Percolator), Little Spoon/our Brucie , Goliath and Dave walking with us. Justin calls a few trail angels to negotiate a lift out to the highway. In the meantime, I sample the towns local Ostrich Burger, a little overrated if you ask me.
At 5pm, 5 of us hop in the first shuttle. I forget the angel’s name :-(, but he tells us lots of interesting facts about the worlds biggest wind farm which we walk through, and the old cement industry, used to build the LA aqueduct and the Hoover Dam. We have instructions to walk down the east side of highway 58 until we get to a culvert and then go under the culvert and wait for the other in the second shuttle where it’s nice and cool. The instructions are a little vague but when we understand it’s about 1.5 miles down we head off. We climb a few barbed wire fences, which are never fun and then wait at the culvert for the others. It seems to take forever and there is a mix up where they have been looking for us under culverts in the other direction, meaning miles for extra walking for Justin, Jamie and Goliath. We finally figure it out and re-group and begin our climb out of the valley. It’s now 7:30pm and we are aiming for a campground 12 miles in.
The light is fading as we climb up out of the highway Valley. We begin to see the expanse of the giant Tehachapi Wild Farm project which extends into the Mojave desert. The Mojave creates a hot air channel upwards from it centre further east and then ocean air is sucked in from the west and enters the desert valley from this very highway Pass. It gives Tehachapi some of the cleanest air, however weather conditions are often windy and dusty. Makes a perfect home for wind turbines. It’s interesting to see the change in turbines over the decades, beginning in the 90’s with smaller (500 home) wind turbines. The newest ones are 8 times the size and now power 2500 homes each!
Light fading over the Joshua Trees.
As we climb, admiring Joshua Trees in sunset colours, we also see a lot of hustle and bustle, city lights and traffic coming from the Mojave. It’s funny how empty it looks in the day times.
A Tarantula, not as scary as I thought they’d be.
At the top of the 1100m climb it is completely dark and we navigate via head torch. It often makes walking difficult, on slippery gravel and I tend to get bored quickly, needing the distractions of views. The path undulates and we finally get into our agreed camp, off the side of a dirt road around 12:30/1am. We are all exhausted and cowboy camp under the stars. ✨✨ idyllic.
We wanted to sleep for days after a pretty tiring Mojave crossing but our damn hiker body clocks woke us with the sun. I was feeling pretty groggy maybe due to the curtains being shut and collateral tiredness. We descended on the best western free breakfast and drank coffee till we had to pee and caught up with Tamika and Oliver for the latest trail gossip. Pinecone and I (Quiz) commented on our lack of desire to get plastered which is our normal entering town style, but I’m still feeling pretty wiped out.
We bummed around in our room as it was still so early and all had second showers. Eventually we forced ourselves out to the supermarket to buy food for the next 6 days to Lake Isabella and to post to ourselves in Kennedy Meadows. That’s 18 days of food and a pretty hectic expensive shop. Sitting outside the supermarket sorting our haul into piles a very kind local offered to drive us to the post office, 2 miles away on the other side of town. We had been trying to psych ourselves up for the walk. Jenny our kind trail angle said she had to go back to work after she dropped us off, but spent a lot of free time driving hikers about.
The post office is hidden behind a petrol station on the edge of town over the freeway and train lines. We posted our food and then luckily enough got a ride home with another local we met in line. A+ town for trail angeling.
Pinecone walked to Kmart and brought us beers and we went to our favourite place of all time, the hot tub, to drink them. Relaxing there we heard about the $6 movies and decided to go see the new Alien film Covenants this evening. Time flies so quickly in town and after loosing track of time in in depth hot tub chats we had to rush to shower for the 100th time and get the movie theatre.
The film was excellent and gorey and had a hilarious human/alien sex scene. We were all a bit wired afterwards as compared to the bush movies are very loud and stimulating. Hopefully a sleep in awaits us but no nightmares. Xo
I read in a book recently that Pacific Islanders who navigated the oceans for millennia prior to technology used a combination of indications from their environment to tell them exactly where they were in that exact moment. One skill was the use of constellations in the night sky. 12 pass over as the earth moves from light to dark, and by keeping these constellations overhead the navigators could stay headed toward their desired location.
Last night as we slept out under the sky, the beeeze blowing down Tyler Horse Canyon and onto our exposed heads I wondered about those constellations passing over us too, in our modern world. So much has changed for humans, yet so much of the natural world remains the same. The alarm sounded at 3 am and we rose, packed away our things, had some of Perks freshly brewed areopress coffee and began our day.
There is something beautifully calming about walking in the dark of the early morning. We hadn’t seen the moon yet but as we walked up the trail and rounded a corner there she was. Bright and glowing a sweet yellow. I kept looking up to her, and in doing so would not only shine my light up to the night sky dimming its potency, and also lose my footing. We walking closely and intermittently chatted. The moon ducked in and out of the ranges and we rounded them. We had 5 kms of undulating trail, it wove down into small canyons and headed up along sandy slopes.
In the dark we came upon the trail register, we sighed it, and straight away the trail headed steeply down along a very sandy and at times vanishing track. As light began to allow us to make out the shapes of the ranges beside us and the trail before us we began our climb. This climb had been looming over our heads for the last few days. On the elevation map it looked like the biggest we had in a while, but it wasn’t too bad. Something in the atmosphere shifts with the sunrise and the earth cools. By luck we had begun to climb around 5 am and by 5.30 am when we stopped for breakfast it was cool and made climbing easy.
Our breakfast spot was perfection. We could see the trail cresting a range and behind it the orange sky cast silloutess across the landscape. We nestled down looking out over a vista of the wind farm, desert floor, ancient foot hills and in the far distance the ranges we had walked over a few days previously and snow capped mountains from many miles ago. The sky was pink and mouve to our right in and a deep orange to the left. We felt very lucky and also proud of ourselves to be here. We were tired and ready to get into Tehachapi.
After breakfast we climbed and climbed. It was steady and not too hard. By 7.30 the sun was out and shining. As I (meg) came over the last push of the climb and rounded the corner trail magic appeared like a mirage uphead. I walked into the setting, behind a fallen trunk of an old burnt pine were a cluster of some chairs, a couple of familiar hikers and two trail angels. A small bar had been built into amongst some fallen trees and shrub. It was decorated with old teapots, and adornered in water, fresh baked brownies, juice and a lovely trail register. I walked in and say “hey mate” to a fellow hiker, and the trail angel looked at me for a second and asked “mental snakes?”. “Yes”, says I “how did you know?”
“I’ve been following your blog and recognised you from the photos”. It was a lovely moment and Robert, the trail angel soon after asked where the other two were. I told him they weren’t far behind. He introduced me to his wife Patty and soon after Harriet rounded the hills, triumphantly raising her poles in the air to celebrate the end of the climb and the unexpected trail magic.
Eventually we all were sitting round chatting and learning about Robert and Patty’s experience with the trail and their lives up here in the desert hills. They bought their place in the 70s, it sadly burnt years back in a fire and they have since rebuilt their house and also planted a garden full of veggies and fruits. They begun giving thirsty hikers a lift into the town and more recently begun helping Roberts brother with the mile 549 trail magic station. Every morning they drop off a fresh pot of coffee, sometimes they bring hot food, and there is always a supply of drinks and snacks. They had lots of local knowledge and a very strong connection to their region and its history. Robert told us that in the winter the indigenous peoples of this area would shelter on the desert floor and foot hills, away from the snow and winds. In the spring they would climb up and over these ranges to summer Meadows and running creeks. He said that Tehachapi meant hard climb in the native dialect. By 8.15 we had packs on and waved goodbye.
As I walked out of the resting spot a wave of exhaustion hit me, I carried it till the road 15 kms away. As a result this part of the trail is a bit blurry and tainted. We moved out of the burnt hills and into another wind farm. The track kept high instead of heading to the flats below, and we zig zagged out way slowly down the valley. I kept having moments of frustration that the road wasn’t coming quickly enough. I was done with wind turbines and creeping heat. At last I spotted Perk signing the trail register and knew we had come to our final destination. I signed the book and fell into some shade under an old oak and waited for the girls to arrive. During this time I ate all my snacks and called the Best Western, our sleeping place for tonight.
We headed to the road and quickly hitched rides into town. The couple who gave Perk and i a lift told me that Tehachapi actually means four seasons, as you can never predict the weather. They said that only last week the town had been covered in low cloud and that snow had fallen earlier in the year. As I looked out into the blue, cloudness sky I found this hard to imagine. I’m unsure of the ethology of Tehachapi, but from what I have experienced so far it is a low lying town surrounded by Mountains. There doesn’t seem to be a town centre so much as a number of main road leading to areas where there is development. As we walked the pavement to Big Papas for lunch the heat radiated off the ground below. We ate lunch in a booth cooled by the air conditioning and headed back to the hotel for showers, the hot tub and pool and some r n r. I think tonight will be very relaxed as we are all slightly delirious.