Tuesday, June 10, 2014

8 PCT - Hiker Heaven to Tehachapi


My new hiking buddy, One Track, and I departed late from the Saufleys. I'm trying to get more comfortable hiking at night. The next 135 mile stretch from Tehachapi to Kennedy Meadows is through the Mojave desert and it's HOT!! I have been told that it is necessary to hike in the evening or, at least, take a long siesta from 1-5pm. My body is learning to do all types of new things!!

The moon shown bright and the weather was perfect. About halfway through our hike around 1am, One Track noticed eyes peering back at us from the darkness. He didn't think that it was a deer and thought it could be something more devious. I caught the eyes with my headlamp. The beast was about 75 yards away through a relatively flat meadow. I could not pick out the body in the night, but it's eyes reflected off my lamp a blueish, shiny aluminum color. They were half dollar sized and 2-3" apart. They looked to be about 3 feet off the ground. I maintained its' gaze with my headlamp and One Track gathered some rocks. The glowing eyes followed where the rocks landed, then stealthy looked back at us. We were in Mountain Lion country so I was scared. As we walked along the trail, the eyes walked parallel with us at a distance. We made lots of noise and continued to throw rocks. Every 100 yards or so we would stop and scan. I walked with rocks in my pockets all the way to camp! We found a site around 4am and planned a few hours of sleep. Our best option was just off trail.

It was a hot day with zero coverage. Both of us had not slept much, so when we came upon this Trail Magic, we took advantage!! I drank a delicious ice cold Dr. Shasta (way better than Dr. Pepper) and made lunch.

2 of the most popular Trail Angels live within 24 trail miles of each other. The Saufleys (Hiker Heaven) and the Andersons. The Saufleys have everything you need to prepare for the hike... The Andersons is where you go to socialize and relax. We had to walk a couple miles off trail to get to the Andersons. This was a very cool and eerie piece of art along the walk.

Got pretty close with all these people. Since I'm toward the end of the pack of thru-hikers, it's become a lot easier to make strong connections with people.... And with nature. This is the driveway of the Andersons, where I spent most of my time. When everyone arrives, they take all their food out of their bag and put it in the garage. Otherwise, critters will chew through your tent, backpack, etc to get to your things. After finding a sight and dropping your things, it's time to relax. To the left of this picture is a rack of Hawaiian shirts and dresses; Pick one out and join the group. It's a nice way to tell who is staying and going. Plus, if you make it down into the littltown, everyone knows who you are in your Hawaiian shirt!  

Practice Frolf course on the way to pick a camp spot

I camped in between the two leafy green trees in the flat area to the right. Tents are only necessary in bad weather. As I get more comfortable out here, I enjoy sleeping in the open more everyday!

The property was vast so I went exploring through the Manzanita Forrest 

Many people painted rocks, and I wish I had. However, I chose to play Disc Golf instead. The course was both challenging and fun. I hadn't played since last summer, so I was a little rusty. I went with a guy named Dune. Him and I shot a similar game. It was something that I wanted to do along this hike and I din't know if I would get the chance. I was tired after my 12 mile day and 4 hours of sleep the night before, but it was worth it! I talked with Papa Joe (Mr. Anderson) and thanked him for everything especially the disc golf. He told me of an old Trail Angel, Tom, near Kennedy Meadows. Unfortunately, he doesn't open his home to hikers anymore, but he will let a few onto his property to play disc golf. He made a custom frolf course in his backyard out of whisky barrels. I got the invite and planning on playing there in a few days!

I played with some camera features and turned myself into a cartoon. I didn't notice the "E" tree behind me feeding into my brain.. but that's awesome!

I managed to slip the disc underneath the tree and above the grass, almost curving it into the basket

There was certainly weird art in this town. It was a mile or so walk back to the Andersons. The magnum 357 looks like a cannon of some sorts.. maybe for fireworks?

The sun was going down as we walked by this studio. Another piece of art read "Studio Open." The gate was only slightly ajar, but we went into have a look. We could hear people in the house, but no one came out to bother us.

We got back to the Andersons just in time for Taco Salad. It was delicious!

Here is 'Merica showing how much fun you can have on a rope swing


I had heard from a variety of people that Hikertown was odd. Doc had told me that it was uber weird, not in a good way. It certainly was different, but their weren't very many hikers their so it didn't bother me. Plus the wind was fierce and annoying, so camping outside would have been tough. I raided a great hiker box and went through the goodies I got in the mail from MOTH (my "mother of a thru hiker"). I slept in this old beauty.

These are the grounds, so you can judge for yourself. I can imagine it being more uncomfortable with 50 hikers staying there. Since there were only 5 of us, dogs, puppies and chickens, it was all good.

We got an early start and headed out to Tehachapi.

Very classy detour sign

Unfortunately, this Mojave Green is dead. Head was smashed and rattle removed... The body was in tact, so I'm not sure how it died.

This one was NOT dead! I couldn't believe it was out at 7:30am!!!! I hadn't seen or heard a snake in a while so this one caught me off guard. Mojave Greens are known for being aggressive. I have heard that they would rather strike than flee. Once I got within 3-4 ft of the other Rattlesnakes I've seen, they always slithered away... This one was different. The closer I got, the more coiled it became. I still managed to get some good shots. Not sure if my camera captures the color that well, but these snakes are tinted green, like the color of Yoda. I learned today that their venom carries 2 toxins and if bit, you only have a few hours to find help.... YIKES!

The sun was rising quick so we decided on some last chance shade, before it was gone completely.

When the sun was high in the sky, finding shade was a challenge. I spotted this Joshua Tree kingdom off trail and made lunch there.

This stretch had a lot of dirt road walking along an underground aqueduct to the left. These pictures feature my hiking buddy One Track.

SO HOT!!!!!!!!!!!! I must have lost my heat tolerance moving to Colorado!

We walked through a ton of windmills.

During these long cement sections, I really wanted something with wheels

The owner of Hikertown put a water cache 17 miles from his place. The plan was to get there by 1ish and rest in the shade during the unbearable part of the day. We napped and cooked under this bridge from 1-5. It felt great.

Then it was 6 miles too camp and a small stream for more water.

It was dusk when we got to camp. The water flow was good and tasted delicious. The best part was that it was cold!! I have been drinking hot or warm water for a few days now. I washed my socks and set up camp. At 2:30 am, I awoke to the sound of falling rocks and inconsistent loud grunts/exhales. They definitely were not roars. I found my headlamp and looked up the hill. We were surrounded my some pretty steep mountains, so I'm not sure what could have been up there. I located the eyes in my headlamp and had a flashback to the eyes in the night I had seen before. The animal was to clumsy and loud to be a Cat, so I had no idea what it could be. My friends were camped near me and I made noise, but no one woke up. I wanted a second opinion, but I didn't want to disrupt their slumber if their was no threat. I asked some locals in town and they said it was either a bear or wild pig. I saw the eyes near the rock my finger points at.  The grunts and the sound of displaced rocks moved away up the hill. I thought about breaking camp and getting an early start. But didn't feel like facing the night creatures alone in known mountain lion territory. I eventually fell back asleep.

There are registers all along the trail. Sometimes they are directly on the trail, like this one. All the trail magic spots have one too. If there is not an official place in town, there is usually a register at the post office.

A beautiful California King snake sun bathing on the trail. Their not poisonous, but they eat Rattlesnakes.

Here is a quick video of the snake on the move. I love the colors!

Water cache halfway between camp and the hitch to Tehachapi... So nice. Some of the water was in the shade so it was cool and we didn't have to filter it; my favorite kind of water! There was a small donation box, I left $2. In a burn area again, I started to miss the Poodle Dog Bush. Then I started to see them all over. I guess I can't ever let my guard down on the trail.

Fresh green apples!!! NO WAY!!! It's always awesome to get fresh foods

Don't exactly know when or where it happened. But I have surpassed the 500 mile mark.. So this is my tribute.

These signs are all over. I was drawn to this one because of the 'No trike riding' sign. Who rides tri bikes anymore???

The last stretch was brutal... Hot wind blowing all over the place. Luckily, immediately after reaching the road, I got a hitch. Perry was my age and worked on the windmills. The post office was a mile or so outside of town. He waited for me to pick up my package then gave me a tour of the town, eventually dropping me off at Best Western. The kindness of people along this trail is unbelievable. One Track, Half Step and I were sharing a room. Last night we ordered take out and soaked in the Jacuzzi. I'm trying to take a long nap later and hike through the night. For the next 7 days we're hoping to tweak our sleep schedule and skip hiking during the hot days. I'll let you know how it works out!