42. May 22: Mile 558.51 Tehachapi, CA to Mile 572.92 Campsite
I was talking to my mom the other day on the phone and it came up in conversation how her and my dad were saying that they would find it hard to have a routine day to day and week to week while out here hiking. Prior to leaving for this trip I imagined it would be that way too. It can be easy to be in a bit of a time warp when out here away from the normal work routine, but as I’ve been hiking, I’ve realized that it really isn’t all that different. Each day we’re planning out our days based on water sources and potential campsites and we plan out our weeks based on how many miles we plan on doing each day. When we get into town it isn’t just sitting around doing nothing, we spend a lot of time resupplying, going to post offices, and planning out the coming week(s). So while this is still all a hell of a lot better than being at work, it’s still work in a lot of ways.
Today was one of those days where it seemed more like work than fun. There is no water for the next 25 miles so we had to pack out six liters weighing over 13 pounds. We got on the trail after leaving the hotel around 10:00 and it was so miserably hot; almost 100 degrees with barely any available shade. I stopped only three miles in under a bush for a half hour because I was already so exhausted. Our group of four was spread out, all walking alone in our own misery. About eight miles in we crossed a highway and stopped for lunch at a small water cache. There was no shade. Must say it was certainly the most awful lunch of my life. I was too hot and thirsty to have much of an appetite and the sun was absolutely relentless.
While we were sitting there the trail angel who maintains the cache came up and told us about a drainage bridge about a mile up the trail with lots of shade. So we packed up and moved on to the bridge only to find it blocked by chest high barbed wire. We all either climbed over or crawled under the fence just so we could lay down in the dirt to get out of the sun. It wasn’t an ideal spot. The soil was rocky and the ground shook every time a car drove over the road and there were train tracks 20 meters away where freight trains came blasting through frequently. Despite this it was still sublime. We all managed to get long naps in before getting back on the trail around 6:00.
The hike from the bridge was so much nicer even though we had to ascend 2000 feet. The sun began to cast long shadows on the hillside and allowed for a cool evening walk and offered by far the most amazing sunset I have seen along the trail.
The rest of this week will probably look much like today: hot and little shade. We’ll probably try to hike early and late, taking naps in the shade mid-day. It’s so bizarre how we are so close to the Sierras yet we’re entering one of the driest, most desert like sections of the trail.