Days 50 – 53: Miles 558.5 – 603.3

Welcome back! If you haven’t had the chance to read my last blog titled, “Stay Gold in Tehachapi,” I would suggest you read that article as well. If you have, then you already know that Packrat, Bird, and I stayed at Jason’s “Stay Gold” house for a couple of nights.

Check out my last post: Stay Gold in Tehachapi

We were under a high wind advisory for all of Friday that included the potential for tornados. Let’s just add that to the list of weather conditions we’ve dodged since being on trail. Seriously though… we continue to hear stories of near misses due to weather related emergencies happening all along the trail.

It was nice hanging out with Stay Gold for a couple days, but it was time for us to move on. The weather forecast led us to believe we would have good weather the next week and a half, so we needed to take advantage of this opportunity to get in some big miles.

Oh, and I got my new shoes! A huge thanks must go out to Rachael’s friend Jenn who supplied both of us with new pairs of Danner hiking shoes.

Thank you, Jenn!

Miles: 558.5 – 565.5

Packrat and I woke up early hoping to beat everyone to the showers. We were still at Stay Gold’s house, hoping to hit the trail that morning. There was a lot going on that morning… six of us were heading back to the trail, two were skipping forward, and two were calling an end to their thru hike. People were scurrying around everywhere trying to get their bags packed, water bottles filled, and coordinating rides to their respective drop off locations.

Bird aka Mr. Parm

Packrat woke up not feeling so great. She felt she might be coming down with an ear infection. It certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary considering all the altitude changes we have endured over the past couple months. I was concerned and insisted we not hike, but she insisted we try anyways.

A hiker named Fancy Feast joined us for our ride back to the trailhead. Another local trail angel that goes by name Looky-Loo drove us that morning. She was very kind and even stopped at the local McDonalds so the four of us could grab breakfast before charging down trail.

We had an easy section today. We had the last eight miles of the Southern California map to complete before we would officially start using the Sierra Nevada section. This section of trail spans between Willow Springs Rd and Highway 58… both used to gain access into Tehachapi.

Crossing the tracks.

We hiked among the wind turbines all day. These turbines must be older models as they are much smaller and look more worn down than the ones we’ve been seeing.

We only hiked seven miles, but it felt like a dozen miles more easily. My feet were a bit sore as though I had hiked more, but I think it was just the new shoes breaking in.

Packrat still wasn’t feeling well after a day of hiking so we decided to go back into town while we still had the ability to do so. Our plan was for Packrat to take some allergy meds, drink lots of fluids, and get to bed early. We still planned on hiking…

Miles 565.5 – 573.3

We were in no rush getting out of the hotel room that next morning. Packrat was feeling better, but not her full self. We had a really long stretch in front of us so we figured it would be best to fill our bellies.

The three of us hiked down a couple city blocks and into the front doors of Kelcy’s Restaurant in Tehachapi. Kelcy’s reminds me of an old school diner. The decor was rustic and the food… timeless all-American classics. I had a BLT with French fries and a vanilla milkshake.

Kelcy’s Cafe – Tehachapi, CA
Amazing milk shakes!

Packrat found a trail angel who was available to give us rides back to the trailhead. Lonnie is a local Tehachapi trail angel whose only request in exchange for a ride is a picture and a good conversation. Thank you, Lonnie!

Family Photo – Thanks, Lonnie!

Our hike was uneventful for the most part. We started off with a mellow two mile walk along Highway 58. Then we charged up a mountain side… we climbed 2,400 feet in just under five miles. We were still following the ridge lines that outlined the wind turbine farms, so needless to say, it was still very windy.

Packrat and I found ourselves at the top of the mountain, tired and sore. We hadn’t seen Bird in a while, so we made the decision without him to setup camp a little earlier than we expected. Bird is extremely experienced, so we weren’t too worried.

Fillo’s Walking Tamales – So good!

Miles 573.3 – 587.5

Packrat and I were without Bird for a night, but we did meet some new hikers. We ended up sharing a tent site with five other hikers whom we had met before… way back in Julian. The two of us sat down and enjoyed a nice dinner with new friends: Two Step, Pit Stop, Resource, Lizard, and Battery.

We were a little slow getting out of camp that morning; it was about 8:40 in the morning when we hit the trail for the day. This stretch of trail is very dry so water is really driving the number of miles we are doing between camps.

It’s a baby!

The hike started off very nice. Both Packrat and I felt our overall wellness was good. Neither of us were experiencing any aches or pains which is always good. And, my new shoes were doing an amazing job at keeping my feet happy.

I really enjoyed our morning hike. The trail led us through a section of pine trees surrounded by lush, green ground cover. The morning sun created a warm glow that fell onto the landscape, making for a really pretty walk.

Morning walks!

We spent our day once again traversing ridge lines that followed the wind turbine farms. The wind was getting old and I was starting to desire silence. I would be okay not seeing another wind turbine for awhile.

Packrat and I played leap frog with our new friends. They would race past us while we were on a break, and then we would race past them further down the trail. We still hadn’t seen Bird, but we did get a message from him that he had stopped at a camp site a couple miles before ours. we expected he would catch up to us in no time.

Cool trail relic.

We ended our day sleeping amongst massive oak and manzanita bushes. The tent site we were at was the last marked one for a while so there were hikers everywhere. Besides Packrat and I, we could see the five from the night prior, a new group of three, and another three solo hikers.

Hike Free

Packrat and I shared dinner space with our new friends again. We were both tired, so we weren’t trying to stay around too long to socialize.

Just as we were getting ready to wrap things up for the day… Bird showed up. Just in time to say goodnight.

Miles 587.5 – 603.3

Packrat woke up to a millipede hanging just outside her tent. It wasn’t causing anyone any harm so she sent it on its way.


Today’s hike was a lot of the same. Same terrain… different ridge lines. I’m not sure when the fire occurred, but it’s very clear much of this area burned at one point. I would venture to say it was probably ten years or so since the fire. I say ten because many of the trees that had died have since had their roots rotted away and are now falling every which way.

Climbing through blowdowns.

Packrat and I continued to play leap frog while making our way down trail. We hiked nearly 16 miles with just shy of 3,000 feet of ascent. It was one of the hottest days we’ve had so far and it happened to be on a day where we had a long stretch between water sources.

It was the hottest part of the day when we entered into an area that had recently been burned. Massive boulders and the remnants of trees and shrubs littered the landscape. It reminded me of the Elephant Graveyard from The Lion King.

Watch out for Scar.

We eventually made it back into a forested section. The afternoon sun had dropped a bit… giving us some relief from the blistering sun. We were almost to our next water stop, which also turned out to be our campsite for the night. But, before we get to camp… one last positive note regarding our day…

600 Miles!!

Packrat and I pulled into Robin Bird Spring just before 6 p.m. Most of the other hikers were already there getting their tents setup for the evening. One of the other hikers was quick to let us know Bird was already there. What?!? He was already setup with a spot for us next to him. Apparently he passed us and we didn’t even notice.

We quickly sat up camp and began making dinner. The both of us were famished! All three of us were also quickly realizing that we might have a food problem. There is a real possibility we might run out before we get to our next town access. Uh oh…

Thank You!

I just want to take a moment to thank all of you who are following along with us on this epic journey. We appreciate all your support and encouragement. This has not been an easy journey and it’s during our toughest of moments that we lean on our supporters the most. This is mentally taxing… so thank you.

Cheers, Smiley

One step at a time.

Sunset on the PCT

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Comments 4

  • Bob : May 4th

    I anxiously look for your posts! You are doing a woderful job of describing your journey, and your photos are just the best!
    Thankyou for your efforts to bring the PCT to life for me.

  • Laura : May 5th

    Hi, Smiley!
    It was both super nice and unexpected to read your response to my first email. You’re doing it, man…hiking through the Sierra Nevada mountains and you still made an effort to respond to me. You’re cool,! It sounds like meeting “Stay Gold” was a great experience and I’m glad you seem to know that! Anyway, keep ’em coming (the blog posts, I mean!) because I’m not a bit tired! I can push on for a while longer!!! See, I’m totally living vicariously through you, just like I told you… I’m a funny girl, right?!? Much love to you and your pals…xoxoxo,!
    Love, Laura

  • Chris : May 6th

    I too look forward to the posts! Each year there seems to be a few hikers that I enjoy following, and Smiley is one of them. Great writing, pictures, makes me feel as if I’m out there experiencing the hike.

  • Jeff Greene : May 6th

    I’m enjoying your journals! I’m a SoCal day hiker, car camper, and occasional weekend backpacker who likes to live vicariously through PCT thru hikers, and I appreciate your style as I follow along as you cross many of my favorite areas.


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