Day 52, so much fun!

Hey guys Bruce here, aka lil spoon, aka the English boy who is scared of bugs, aka Oliver.

We woke around 6, covered in spiders. We shared coffee and I ate porridge for the first time in ~500 miles.  We left camp around 7 and the morning flew by as we covered the 12 mile stretch to where we’d agreed to meet Goliath, at the dirt road near Chimney Creek. On the way there we heard a mountain lion screaming in the valley below.

We got to Chimney Creek around midday. Goliath had just left to drop off some other hikers to Kennedy Meadows but luckily another angel, Jim, was there. Jim was an ex-park ranger and does private rafting tours through the Grand Canyon. His daughter, Kim, was section hiking and had passed by this morning. He gave us sodas, fruit, meats and bread. 

Eventually Goliath returned with treats and humour, he told a passing driver that a tree had fallen down the road and that he couldn’t pass. A few seconds later he told the driver he was joking and we all laughed.

We thanked Jim and Goliath before leaving around 2pm. Everyone steamed ahead and I had to sit down because I’d eaten such an absurd amount for lunch and was in physical pain from my lack self control.

Okay, meg taking over now. Brucey, all beauty and brawn has tired of the blog and I’ll fill in the rest. As the clouds began greying during our time with Jim I smelt rain. Not long after setting off the familiar putter patter of natures moisture began falling on our shoulders. I was out front with Justin and we stopped quickly to pack our things into our pack liners and put on our rain jackets. 

The rain continued to fall as we climbed. At one point we pulled over and I took off my jacket, underneath I was wet and I am unsure if it was because of the condensation caused by my sweat or because my jacket isn’t waterproof. Regardless, it was a nice walk up and out of the desert. We could see in the far distance snow capped mountains and the rain seemed to refresh the landscape around us. At the top of the climb we stopped, and here we have stayed. It wasn’t as many miles as we had intially decided on, however the rain and the view bought us to an early finish. Justin quickly set up his tarp and shortly after Harriet and Phoebe arrived. We set their tent up as Perk rolled in. I was waiting on Bruce. I haven’t bought a tent for this leg and it has come back to bite me. Bruce said i could share with him if I had too, but at this point I was unaware of his lunchtime indulgence and was feeling afraid he may never show. I felt huge relief when he turned up. I was sat in the tent with Harriet and Phoebe, reminiscing about the 15 hours we spent rained in atop the Australian Alps range late last year. 

Everyone was snuggled up in their tents by early evening, dinners were cooked in vestibules and only just before sundown did we appear to check out the sun setting over the mountains. Phoebe put on some music and had a warm up dance and we remembered dancing to the mountain on the Larapinta which we did with my parents a few years ago. 

Bruce and I shared stories and some couscous. I have learnt that I should never ever, under any conditions touch the sides of the tent when it’s wet. Tomorrow we head to Kennedy Meadows, it’s a huge milestone and a place that’s been sitting on my horizon for a long time.

Day 48 Mt Skinner to Lake Isabella 27 kms 

Today was mainly down. Off we came from Mt Skinner, and have taken more mileage out of final chunk of desert. As we decendesd toward Walker Pass the scent of town caught our attention and we decided to head instead of camping the night out. We have met up with Tamaika, dave and Goliath who collected us from the trail head. 

Rewind to sunrise this morning. The wind died around 12 pm and the next 5 hours of sleep where reasonably peaceful. 

Okay, so now I’ll interrupt again. I have a confession. I haven’t written this entry and I’m not sure why. The desert has run dry on me and I am ready to be gone of it, or should I say I was very ready to leave it. Cowboy camping or bobbing atop mt Skinner was an amazing experience. The walk the following day into Isabella was same, same. More desert, more heat, a little dappled shade and a final decent into a valley which was very hot. We had thought maybe we could stay out a night on the trail, but decided against it as it wasn’t that exciting. At one point we headed a mile off trail to a spring and cabin. I thought we could swim and got everyone excited. It was not the Paradise I had hoped for. We ate some snacks and watched about 20 bikers roll in, churning up dust in their slick looking biker clothing. 

We signed the log book and waited for Goliath in the car park. Our chariot, a huge GM truck arrived, all white and rumbling with Goliath, our knight in shining amour jumping our excitedly too greet us. Harriet, Justin and I sat in the tray for the 30 miles into Lake Isabella. It was a beautiful and fun time. From the back of the truck (aka a ute) we could watch the mountains fall away behind us. The wind in our hair we barked like dogs and pointed out the scenery to one another, all the while cramped among the packs. 

We ate food at a diner, slept under old oaks and relaxed into the evening. There was a fire pit and other hikers to hang out with.

Day 47 – Rocky Outcrop to Mt Skinner Tentsite- 35km

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. 

Desert floor toward the Mojave

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. 

Water cash is well stocked at mile 631 but situated in a wind tunnel. 

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. 

View south from our climb

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! 

View north toward the High Sierra. 

Day 46 – 946km to Rocky Outcrop, 31kms

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

Day 45 km 929 … to km 946 – 27 km

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.

 Harriet and Perk’s bakery van get away. 

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. 

Wind turbines at dusk 

Day 44 – Highway 58 to Tentsite km 929 – 19.5km

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. 

Quiz walking down highway 58

The culvert under the freeway, mud on the walls is from a flood two years ago. 

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. 

Looking down on the Mojave at night.

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. 

Day 43 – Tehachapi, 0kms

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.

Gang off to the mooovies + town art

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