Tuesday, July 15, 2014

9 PCT - Tehachapi to Onyx


CAUTION!!! Xtreme walking ahead!!! I love all the signs on the hike. This led to a wooden barrier to climb over. I made it safely over. Below, I found a place to rest and eat some Bacon Jerky. Tastes just like Bacon! No need to bring Jerky into this, Thanks MOM!


Below is my "Snake Charmer" sand symbol made of sticks. The 'S' was already there. I just made it better.



This is Golden Oaks Spring. It was flowing slower than 1 Liter per minute, but it was beautiful. Surprisingly there were no mosquitoes, but instead, curious, beautiful Finches.


Took me 45 min to fill up all this water and filter it!


This is the fancy spigot someone had Macgyvered



My buddy, Half Step, left the Spring about an hour ahead of me. This is his shoe print with a nice bear print over it... YIKES!!!



I looked up from this print and saw dear. Hopefully the bear would choose them over me! 


Golden Time as the sun is setting





Night hiking alone through Mountain Lion and Bear territory is scary!! I only saw one set of eyes and it was from a rabbit. However, this big snake caught me off guard!


Ended up hiking through a burn area during the night. It was eerie, but nothing for the critters to hide behind. Plus I figured since nothing was alive up there, no big predators should be lurking about. Eventually I made it to camp; a lush green meadow with plenty of trees and grass.



Met the crew for a nap sesh at Robin Bird Spring (19 miles from the last water source)


As usual, we got to the Spring around noon. Did laundry, cooked, napped and left around 4pm. Hiking after 4 through the forest is beautiful!



I was feeling all sorts of PCT Love and happened upon this in the middle of the trail. I enhanced it and later talked with friends who had seen it weeks later. AWESOME!



Today, I hit 600 miles....  Rock selfie!!


There were rock towers and caves all along this section. It looked like a Mountain Lion habitat I had seen at the Desert Museum in Tucson.


So it was no surprise to see these tracks all over the trail!





Saw this off trail and had no idea what it was



We made it to Landers Camp Fire Tank and Lost Soles was cleaning up. Then Half Step wanted to wash his legs. Then I decided to ice my ankles. The water was cold, but refreshing and delicious.




Originally, Half Step and I were going to hike on. My ankles were sore and I was beat. Plus, I wasn't excited to be hiking into Mountain Lion land at night. Half Step agreed and we stayed here for the night. He was out early and I had finally slept well so slept in. 20 min after leaving camp, a medium sized bear ran across the trail in front of me. I was unable to capture a picture through the forest and was frozen in awe because I had just seen my first wild bear! It was now time to leave the Pine Forest and head down into the desert.



Not a lot of coverage out here except for a few good Joshua Trees


Willow Spring was 11 miles from where I had camped the night before. On our water report, the Spring was a bit off trail and required navigation through an unmarked gully full of cactus and boulder scrambles. Originally, I overshot it by half of a mile. I realized my mistake and went back. I had been following the footsteps of my friends and found out later that they had also missed the Spring. It was a good reminder to trust myself and not rely on anyone to navigate me. They got lucky with a water cache at Bird Spring Pass (22 miles of desert walk from the last water source). I was also counting on the water cache. According to the last water report on 6/5 there were 40 gallons being consumed at 25 gallons per day. I was due there on 6/13 (towards the end of the PCT pack). One could gamble less consumption, however the cache could also no longer be maintained. The next water source would have been 30 miles from the Fire Tank we had camped at and up another 1500 ft



 
Little did I know the next 10 miles would be some off the hardest on the trail so far. Wind was reported at 80mph, I later found out. Finding coverage was nearly impossible!

 

The first real coverage I found was at the foot of this Joshua Tree. I was able to put my eye drops in, change my socks and eat. The trunk of the tree looked a lot like feet. I kissed the feet and prayed for my feet to get better. As I walked away, the Joshua Tree looked magical.... Surprisingly my feet felt better!




This was the next and last place I sought refuge before finding camp.


Even though it was extremely windy, hot and being on blistery feet, I still enjoyed and found great beauty in the desert




SOOOOOO WINDY!!!!!!!!!!


Trying to beat sunset to camp, here's a look at Golden Time and some of the wind I experienced.

video
Camp was, unfortunately, not sheltered very well from the wind. With nothing to adhere my tarp, I found shelter snuggled behind this rock and tree. It wasn't the flattest ground, but I was exhausted and slept alright.


There were only 2 gallons left out of the 40 gallon cache. I took a few liters for the climb up to Yellow Jacket Spring. Below is looking back on where I had been yesterday.



Yellow Jacket Spring was a steep 2 miles round trip off trail. It was a seep and I found no actual running water.




Luckily I didn't have to dig my own hole. I used my cup in here to scoop out water and filter it. I wasn't sure where I was going to camp, so I filtered and brought a lot of water with me.


I made lunch, but the bugs were bad here so I moved on quickly


I had read about an old cabin 6 miles from the Spring. My feet weren't hurting bad, but definitely irritated. I also didn't feel like camping in heavy wind again. I decided to check out the cabin. It was only 1/4 mile off trail, but didn't look very inviting. 


I liked that it was sheltered and reasonably clean. i wanted to take all the bandages off my feet and truly asses them. Walker Pass was 8 miles away and the only place to hitch to town, if my feet needed rest. Once I realized I could open all the windows and have a desk to journal at, I decided to stay.



Not a bad view. It got even better when a lizard crawled across the screen.




Leaving the cabin and heading towards Walker Pass campground. I had heard it was a hard hitch to Lake Isabella and was hoping for some trail magic! With timing on my side, I arrived at the campground just as Susan and Ted, 2 Trail Angels, were restocking the water cache. I asked if they could take me to Lake Isabella. Susan said absolutely, but if I wanted, I was welcome at their home in Onyx. We had to stop by the house anyway so I could make up my mind then. I was filthy. Susan suggested I clean up and do laundry, then she would take me to town to grocery shop. She offered me a robe so I could wash all my clothes



Susan is spunky and fun. She insisted in taking me to town and that I stay for free with them. I couldn't pass up another kind person opening their home to me.... a Stranger. Their home was inviting, cozy and spacious!


They had snacks hidden everywhere. The fridge was fully stocked and I ate like a king!


Gotta love powerful women!


I spent most my time in here, reading and watching tv. There was no internet or cell service. It was a wonderful place to relax.


There was a horseshoe pit out by the bushy tree.


I stayed in this building. There was a bedroom upstairs but had no access to a bathroom. I told Susan that it was no problem; that I would just use my pee bottle. She said, "Cool." She was the first person I had mentioned my pee bottle to, that knew what it was and found it practical.



This is Elsie







I stayed with Susan, Ted and their daughter, Terri, for 4 days. A couple days into my stay, Snake Eyes and Dimples were invited to the house and I made more hiker friends. This trail never seizes to amaze me. Sorry the posts have taken so long. I'm finding it difficult transferring between trail and town life. Headed back into the Sierras near Mammoth Lakes today

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