Agua Dulce to Tehachapi

Agua Dulce to Tehachapi

May 13, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0454.0
End: Halfmile 0478.0
Distance: 24.0 Mi
Cumulative: 488.0 Mi

Sochi has arrived…at CASA DE LUNA! The Andersons are legen – wait for it – dary. Legendary. I was seriously considering skipping this stop all together, but when I arrived at the Oasis Cache – a water cache maintained by the Andersons themselves – my interest piqued. There was a Halloween Frankenstein posted up at the “entrance.” The cache included a cooler with soda and beer (yes, beer), lawn chairs, and various pieces of eclectic decor. Oh yeah, and water…which is obviously both the most important and least interesting piece of this particular puzzle.

The thought that my head might explode at their home briefly entered my mind, but then I realized that I didn’t wanna be the only thru-hiker in Washington who hadn’t even stopped in, the only person who hadn’t signed their 2014 hiker banner, the only ding-dong who hadn’t experienced the Enchanted Manzanita Forest. I had to see it, even if I didn’t stay. It didn’t hurt that the detour to the Andersons (nearly two miles off trail) began at the fire closure / re-route / road walk section. I didn’t wanna pound pavement for 20 more miles; I’d already covered a quick 24. So that was that: my excuse. I stuck out my thumb and caught a ride down to Casa De Luna, the House of the Moon, the Andersons’ humble yet epic abode.

They call it “Hippie Daycare,” and they’re not lying. A stark change from the calm, cool efficiency of the famed Saufleys. This stop was less about laundry and blog updates, and more about Hawaiian shirts (provided; mandatory) and beer. I can see how people get trapped here for zero after zero. Not really my thing, but it was really cool to hang out with a big group for a night.

After our hostess covered the basics, she set us loose. I found a great spot in the amazing Manzanita Forest. They’ve clearly put in a lot of work here. The backyard’s backyard is just an overgrown tangle of manzanita, but they’ve cleared tons of flat tent pads. It’s surprisingly inviting and easy to navigate. I’m staying on the signed “High Road,” of course. Many claim it’s the best night of sleep on the whole trail. We’ll just see about that.

May 14, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0478.0
End: Halfmile 0535.0
Distance: 18.5 + 6.5 + 17.0 = 42 Mi
Cumulative: 530.0 Mi

It’s been a battle of epic proportions. I started hiking this morning at 830a. It’s currently 430a.

I stayed at the Anderson’s last night, because it’s only money. And experience is priceless. It was totally worth it. So glad I didn’t miss out. Caught a ride back to the trail this morning with Mrs. Anderson, the legend herself. There were a few others in the van, but they were all skipping ahead to Hikertown, which bypasses the 18.5 mile road walk and the 6.5 miles of PCT that are open going into Hikertown. Not me; I’m walking the whole way.

I rolled into Hikertown about 7p. It was a neat little spot, but I wasn’t going to stay. I was already planning to night-hike the LA Aqueduct, and the sun was going down, so I figured it’d be silly not to just continue on. I was feeling good, and it wouldn’t be my first 30, so I popped in for some water, said hey to some of the other hikers, then rolled on out of there. I wanted to get some sunset shots of the aqueduct. And I was excited to finally play with the long exposure settings on this camera. Hadn’t really had the opportunity before now.

Just as I was coming to the aqueduct, I saw three coyotes trotting toward the trail in front of me. As they crossed, one of them saw me a few dozen yards away. All of them bolted back the way they’d come, then stood watching me from a distance. I did the same. It was so cool. I’d never seen more than one. After the moon rose, I could hear them out in the desert howling and yipping. It was so cool to think that I’d seen them that very evening.

I actually really enjoyed this section. The moon was full, or nearly so, lighting my way. The maze of jeep roads was well-marked. I had the trail all to myself. After a few hours, I was really feeling my lack of sleep. The last thing I wanted was to stop for a nap, then oversleep and wake up to the hot sun bearing down and a dozen miles left to the water cache. The cool night air made for a pleasant experience, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be there in the heat of the day, especially during this heat wave. It’s been getting progressively hotter lately. I had to really pace myself these last few hours, but I’m here and none the worse for wear. The aqueduct just split off a mile or so back as I entered my first wind farm of the trip. I’m cowboy camping next to a Joshua Tree beneath one of the huge wind turbines. So cool.

42 miles in 20 hours. It’s been a long, long day. Exhausted; haggard. It’s nearly dawn. Not much cover out here, but I’m hoping to get 5 or 6 hours of sleep before I try to tackle the last 23 miles to Tehachapi – Willow Springs Rd where I’m hoping to meet up with Joy and Curtis for another night of true, homegrown Trail Magic. Laundry, shower, and a home-cooked meal if I can make it at a decent hour. That’s about the best incentive I can imagine right now. C’mon legs, don’t let me down!

Oh, and happy birthday to the best mom around! Love you sooo much!

May 15, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0535.0
End: Halfmile 0558.5
Distance: 23.5 Mi
Cumulative: 553.5 Mi

I only got about two hours of sleep before it got too hot to be comfortable. Rather than lay there in the scalding sun, I simply got up and made preparations to start hiking. I got out of there about 830a and knew that I needed to make pretty quick work of the 23.5 miles ahead. I couldn’t believe how hot it was already. I slugged along miserably for the first few hours until I made it to a meandering creek. I thought about calling it a day, but instead filtered water, washed my feet and socks, had a liter and a snack, then inched northward. I didn’t hit my stride until the climb out of the Mojave.

I love climbing, and the temperature cooled slightly as I gained elevation. There was still no cover; I mean none. The trail took me through an old burn area, a forest devoid of a canopy. The thick, bare trunks were teasing me as the sun beat down. I put my headphones in and found my rhythm. More swagger than usual today.

Shower. Laundry. Food. Shower. Laundry. Food.

I’m not sure exactly how, but I made it. I suppose I just kept reminding myself who I was hiking toward. Joy and Curtis have become my personal Trail Angels. They’ve watched over me and spoiled me beyond reason this last week. I’m currently sitting here in a climate controlled environment, a belly full of steak, an internet connection, a water bed upstairs with my name on it, even a ride back to the trail in the morning. Y’all are too good to me. And what a privilege it is to know that you’re reading this. I could never say it enough: Thank You.

I covered just over 65 miles in 34 hours to get here. Thinking about it now, it seems superhuman. I can’t fathom how I don’t hurt more. I’m sore, but who wouldn’t be? I’ll be interested to see how I feel in the morning. I’m hoping to get another 8 miles in tomorrow and roll into Tehachapi for a nero. Hey, the miles aren’t gonna do themselves.

May 16, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0558.5
End: Halfmile 0566.5
Distance: 8.0 Mi
Cumulative: 561.5 Mi

Joy fixed steak and eggs for breakfast this morning. Their generosity is truly endless. I hope to catch them up in the Sierra after they return from Ireland. We’ll see how our timelines match up.

She dropped me at the trail around 8a this morning, and I moseyed through mile after mile of wind turbines. I was in awe. I don’t think the trail goes through anymore, so I wanted to take the time to appreciate it. Once we get beyond the Tehachapi Mountains, I think we start steadily climbing onward and upward toward the Sierra. Just 130 miles to Kennedy Meadows!

Gini picked me up at Hwy 58 shortly after 11a. She shuttled me around the small but sprawled out town of Tehachapi. The PO and grocery store are literally miles apart. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough time to do all I needed, but it’s amazing how much a car simplified my restock. First things first: I needed to stop in at the PO to pick up my maps, shoes, and care packages. (I got three this time!) I sorted through the myriad of goodies, hit the grocery store, then went back to the PO to pack and send out my Tuolumne re-supply box. Unfortunately, the Tuolumne Meadows PO isn’t projected to open until June 2nd, so I couldn’t send my packages this early or they’d be returned. Instead, Gini agreed to hold them for me and send them out on June 3rd. They should still arrive about a week before I do, even if I make up another day or two along the way.

I was kind of dreading this resupply, but Gini helped make it a total breeze. Being able to do laundry and shower the night before at Joy and Curtis’ home also helped drastically streamline the process. After my chores were done, we got ice cream at Baskin Robbins and had lunch at a local greek restaurant. All in all, a great town stop! I’m camping on the outskirts tonight, because I wanna back up my photos at the library before heading out. I don’t even know where the next library is after this. Maybe Independence? Lone Pine? Either way, it’s the perfect excuse to nero in, then nero out. Still savoring every mile, every moment.