Days 54 – 57: Miles 603.3 – 652.5 (Walker Pass)

Welcome back! Thanks again for all the support. We are really appreciating all the positive feedback back and support we have received from our off-trail family.

This blog covers the second half of our journey from Tehachapi, CA to Walker Pass. Enjoy!

Miles 603.3 – 617.1

I was awakened to the sound of two German women. They and one other gal showed up the night before just as we were heading to bed. The three of them setup camp right next to us, and left before we had much of a chance to talk to them. They were young and looked to be putting in some big miles so I doubt we will ever run into them again.

The early a.m. wake up motivated us to get packed up and moving a bit earlier than usual. We only had 14 miles planned for the day due to long, waterless stretches, so there was no real rush for us to leave right away. Oh well.

Thank you to all the trail maintainers!

There is no “natural” water available over the next two days, so water conservation is important. Hikers rely of two major water caches along this section of trail; both of which are placed where there are some tent sites. We decided we would camp at the water caches so we have access to water for cooking. This took the guess work out of deciding how many miles to do each day. It was kinda nice.

Bird at the Kelso Road water cache.

We hiked through the high-desert pine forest for most of the day. It was nice to see how the past couple of days of the PCT would have looked like had there not been a fire years ago. The tall pines provided us some relief from the sun and heat.

Gorgeous hike!

This portion of the trail must have been a popular spot for miners during the gold rush based on the mining relocation we spotted along the trail. These antique mining sleuths gave the forest some additional character. I spent a lot of time thinking about how difficult it must have been to live in the mountains without modern technology.

Very old mining sleuth.

It was a pretty easy day… 14 miles with only 1,700 feet of climbing. We reached the water cache well before dinner and before all the other hikers showed up. This allowed us to snag the prime tent sites, which there are limited number of in this location. I guess we have those German ladies to thank for getting us on trail early.

This water cache is situated right off of Kelso Road. The trail angel(s) that are taking care of this stretch of trail have done a wonderful job setting up these water caches. One of the caches even has charged battery banks for hikers to use to charge all their electronic devices.

Packrat snagging a battery bank at the Bird Spring Pass water cache.

Miles 617.1 – 632.0

It was very windy last night. Packrat and I did not use a rain fly so we were exposed to the wind all night. Bird cowboy camped so he also was exposed to the wind all night. Needless to say… we didn’t get the best sleep.

Packrat, Bird, and I were all slow to get moving that morning. All the other hikers were already on trail by the time we crawled out of our sleeping bags, so finding a tent site later may be tricky.

Dinner time in the high desert.

All three of us have also realized our food must be rationed better if we’re going to make it another three days. This means our calorie intake isn’t going to be as good as we would like. Hiking while hungry sucks! We have some adjustments to make to our food strategy, but in our defense… this has been our longest stretch without a resupply.

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard

When we started the trail now two months ago… I was worried we would miss all the wild flowers. Thanks to all the weather delays, we are in the peak of the seasonal flower bloom and I must say… it’s absolutely astonishing. One flower in particular that I have really enjoyed is the Grape Soda Lupine. The flowers are a vibrant purple and the whole plant smells like grape soda.

Packrat surrounded by Grape Soda Lupine.

Our hike was a bit tougher than the day before. We hiked only a mile more, but we ascended nearly 2,900 ft… 1,200 ft more than the day prior.

We ended our day at the second water cache. Packrat was running low on battery power, so having those extra battery banks to use was certainly helpful.

As expected… due to our late start, we were some of the last hikers to arrive at the Bird Spring Pass water cache. There were limited tent sites already, so our options were not favorable. In fact, we had to settle on the two small spots left. They were heavily exposed to the high winds and right in the open so privacy was limited.

Miles 632.0 – 645.0

I woke-up feeling dirty. Not having had a shower for six days will have that effect… My nail beds were noticeably dirty, my hair was getting very greasy, and I was beginning to take notice of my own body odors. Welcome to the life of a dirtbag.

Feeling slightly gross.

We again had a late start. Most of the other hikers had already left before we crawled out from our tents. The other two hikers still there also beat us out of camp, leaving just the three of us to catch up.

Packrat, Bird, and I didn’t have too far to hike, but boy did it take us forever. We normally hike ten miles before lunch, but we were still under eight miles by 1 p.m. I think the long stretch on trail coupled with two very windy nights in a row were taking a toll on us. Also, we weren’t eating as many calories as we would like…

We’ve been seeing a lot of wildlife on trail. Tons of lizards and insects… rabbits have been pretty common and we’ve even seen a couple deer. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen any signs of predatory animals so that’s a plus. I did come across a massive garter snake. No rattlesnakes yet.

Granite Spiny Lizard
Desert Stink Beetles

Our stop for the night was at McIvers Spring. There is a nice sized cabin that looks to be a winter warming hut. Our new friends camped inside the cabin, leaving us to find spots outside. Fortunately, Packrat and I scored a nice flat area that gave us plenty of room to spread out and offered a bit of privacy from the rest of the area.

It was a long day and we were anxious to head into town, so we didn’t waste any time getting to bed. It was windy again, but not because of the terrain. Another storm system is pushing into the area, so winds were beginning to pick up throughout the area. In fact, I got to witness lenticular clouds for the first time.

Lenticular clouds are only formed in the mountains and occur when warm winds run perpendicular to the mountain range. The winds form these really cool looking spherical clouds high in the sky (usually over a mountain peak). They are known to be indicative of bad weather on the horizon. Surprise, surprise!

Lenticular Clouds

Miles 645.0 – 652.5

The three of us woke-up in high spirits. We only had eight miles to hike before we would reached Walker Pass. From there, we intend on hitching into Ridgecrest to resupply. We expect to be in Ridgecrest for a couple days so Rachael can retrieve her new hiking boots. She had them sent to Onyx, CA, which is a very small town. The post office in Onyx is only open Monday — Friday. It was Saturday, so yeah…

Signing another trail register.

I was extra motivated to hike fast. Rachael had been combing through the FarOut comments and noticed a couple was going to have trail magic at Walk Pass. Packrat, Bird, and I had eaten all our food, so we were motivated to reach that trail magic as soon as possible.

We flew down the trail. There was a short climb in the morning, but after that, it was all down hill into Walker Pass. Oddly enough… my body felt the best it has since beginning this section of trail. I’m not sure if it was the excitement of getting off trail, or my body just adapting to the trail. Either way… I felt great.

The three of us arrived to Walk Pass in record time. We crushed 8 miles in to three hours of hiking. Not bad!

Walker Pass

If you follow hikers on YouTube, you may have come across a married couple: Sadie and Zag. The two of them are being forced off trail due to a pesky injury. They had just made their way into Tehachapi and decided to drive up to Walker Pass to do some trail magic before heading back home. Sadie and Zag had a nice spread that included sodas, muffins, cookies, chips, fruit, and candy. It was a wonderful end to our seven day stretch.

Thank you, Sadie and Zag!!

Cheers, Smiley

One step at a time.

Cheers from Ridgecrest, CA

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Comments 1

  • David Odell : May 7th

    Enjoy your posts. Good luck on the rest of your PCT hike. David Odell AT71 PCT72 CDT77


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