Date: Sunday, 28 May 2017
Start: Tehachapi Willow Springs Road crossing at Mile 558.5, 4153 ft
Finish: Campsite by the trail at Mile 577.2, 5302 ft
Daily Miles: 18.7 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 577.2
Weather: Very warm and sunny
Breakfast: Cereal, yoghurt, scrambled eggs and sausage
Dinner: Rehydrated Beef Stroganoff with Noodles
Highlight: After fifteen minutes of hitchhiking outside the hotel, I realised it was going to be a fruitless exercise and phoned for a taxi to take me to the edge of town. The guy said he would be there in 15-20 minutes, but when I called 35 minutes later my call went to voice-mail. At that very moment, a “trail angel”, Rae, who had just picked up another 66 year old PCT hiker (Bob from Vancouver) from an adjacent hotel stopped and asked whether I wanted a lift to the Willow Springs trailhead, which was exactly where I wanted to go. About 10 minutes into the drive the taxi driver called me back, but I sent him to voice-mail 🙂
Lowlight: I probably should have carried another litre of water from the start. I carried just under five litres, but there have been no water sources en route (I knew that would be the case) and it’s six miles to the next source. After dinner and drinks, I’m down to 600 mls (1 pt) and am still very thirsty. I’m not too bothered, because I know in two hours cool morning hiking I will have water, but I would like to be able to drink my fill tonight before going to sleep.
Pictures: Click here
I was at the motel breakfast when it opened at 7am, keen to eat and then start the process of getting back to the trail, which was unlikely to be straightforward. While I was eating, a young PCT hiker asked if he could join me then asked whether I was the guy who stayed at the Inn way back in Julian, four weeks ago. I then recognised him as the young guy at our breakfast table there who was having some rest days trying to get a sore knee better. I was privately pessimistic about his chances at the time, so it was great to see him recovered and back on the trail.
After the hitchhiking events described above, I ended up back on the trail hiking by just before 9am, which was the best I could have hoped for. It was already warm, and forecast to get warmer, so I was grateful the first seven miles wasn’t too taxing as it gently climbed up to a ridge through a windfarm and then descended to Tehachapi Pass (3821 ft). There was a freeway and rail line through the pass, and at one time I planned to hitchhike from here to Tehachapi. It would have been easy, because I had three people stop unsolicited and ask whether I needed a lift to Tehachapi (it was tempting to go back to town for some cold drinks and ice cream, but I resisted the temptation). I believe this freeway crossing is where Cheryl Strayed started her PCT hike in the book Wild, and the movie scene was filmed here too, I reckon.
After the first gentle seven miles, the trail climbed steadily for the next seven to over 6000 ft, which in the increasing heat was hard work, especially with four days food and four litres of water. At one break, I found a small group of hikers sheltering in the rare shade cast by cluster of Joshua trees. Some looked like they had been there for a while. Far below I could see the Mojave aerodrome where Branson’s Virgin Galactic space vehicle is being developed and tested.
I left the shaded hikers and continued my climb, determined not to overdo my efforts for the day. After a late start, finishing around 5pm, within reach of the next water source seemed a sensible approach, and I was happy to find a good camping spot just after 5pm. It was still very warm while I set up camp, so I’m hoping it cools down a bit overnight, though tomorrow is supposed to be hot as well. I’m a bit over hiking in the heat.