Pacific Crest Trail: Farewell to the Desert

Boy oh boy, this last section of trail really tested my patience. We left Tehachapi with another small night hike ahead of us, something I’m pretty partial to. Generally, I don’t mind it, but with the exposed ridge lines comes plenty of wind. We hit the trail right at sunset, and with 7 or so miles ahead of us, I wasn’t too concerned. Within a few miles, darkness took over and the gusts of wind picked up yet again. My legs got swept out from under me at one point, and eventually I had to stop to put a layer on. I was freezing and extremely anxious to get to camp. I didn’t want to hike anymore, I thought, as my steps continued up to the campsite.  

Eventually we found Taco tucked away in a grove of trees escaping the wind. We called it a night and slid into our quilts, happy to have a somewhat enclosed area to camp at. 

Last spring

Last spring

The next day we awoke a bit later than normal, still shaking off the town rust, something we’ve dubbed the hangover that town instills, not even necessarily from alcohol. We had about 28 miles ahead of us, and with the sun already above the ridge, we packed up and hit the trail. We were beginning to approach arguably the driest section of trail, so we decided to make it to the last Spring before the water caches began. Over the course of the day, we stopped multiple times to escape the sun and to relax. We’ve been so mile oriented lately that a relaxing day of hiking was in order.  We strolled into camp around 7:30, three down our pads and within minutes, we were all asleep. The following day had only two water sources, so we planned a bit before bed and awoke with the sun. 

Bird Spring Canyon

Bird Spring Canyon

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Little did I know how much I would come to despise and loath sand. Not the normal type of sand. But the six inch deep sand that causes your already aching feet to slide, lose traction, and correct. Walking in sand isn’t easy. It’s two steps forward and one step back. Constantly. Each step requires much more effort than normal. Each step my blood pressure rose from the frustration. 

Eventually we got to our last water cache, leaving us nowhere to go but up, so we decided to call it at the cache and camp. It was windy, but with a few Joshua Trees to shroud us from the wind, I figured we’d be okay. We went to bed with Lake Isabella on the mind, ready to push in the morning to get there and enjoy town. Eventually, 5 am rolled around and we awoke with town in our eyes. A mere 6 hours and 22 miles later we arrived, on our way to the motel with food. We decided to take the following day off, especially after we realized that Scooter was coming into town. I haven’t seen Scooter since our road trip back in February, so it was as good of reason as any to hang another day. We’ve been jonesing to hike together out here so it was about time. 

Kern Motel

Kern Motel

Tree Beard

Tree Beard

Film

Film

After enough motel hangs to last the whole trail, we decided to head out the following morning after another trip to the Cafe. We hopped on the bus, only to be smushed to the back as another 15 hikers loaded in with their Packs. Onward back to Walker Pass we went. Our time at the Kern Motel in Lake Izzy was over.

Before we even left to get on the bus, we all agreed that being in no rush to get to Kennedy, there was no reason to push miles in the last few days. We did 12, 23, then 15 to get into Kennedy, which is where I am writing this last bit from. We finally made it. We had a lot of good laughs over the last three days.

Scooter

Scooter

Tree Beard

Tree Beard

As of now, today is Day 34, which yields 702 miles in a little over the first month on Trail. We are all kind of in disbelief that we are about to enter the Sierra. We’ve started to hear some fear mongering stories floating around town here already, which doesn’t bode well for most of the hikers going into the Sierra. Sure, there’s snow on the ground and possibly even more storms coming in, but that’s when you have to make smart decisions and not get ahead of yourself. 

We have a really experienced group going into the Sierra, so for us, I’m not so worried. Like I said, sure, it could get bad, but it seems to be quite the contrary. We are excited. Enthralled, really. The passes will be steep, snow covered, and a tad dangerous, but nothing out of our level. 

Weve all spent the last day and half getting ready. Getting our extra layers organized. Packing and re-packing our backpacks with our bear canisters, making sure absolutely everything is in order. Pretty much everyone at this point is somewhat concerned about the weather, but we all seem more than capable.  

To me, the most important and relevant part of this section is going to be our ability to keep a cool head in tough situations. Most of the time, mistakes happen because of a series of events, not just one wrong decision. There always seems to be a chain of events that leads to the downfall of whatever is in discussion. My personal goal to make the Sierra a success, is to mitigate mistakes as often as possible, making sure that each choice is thought about, considered and analyzed until no more. 

We are waiting to eat breakfast as I finish this blog post, considering more gear, making last minute changes to any plans, and awaiting these giant pancakes we keep hearing about.  

We are leaving town tomorrow, making our way north into the Sierra, something that once again, has been fear mongered against.  

I wont have service for a little while until Bishop, so it might be a little bit sporadic until then as far as posts go, but again, hope you enjoyed. Catch ya on the next one.