Distractions and Trail Names
A thru hike won’t necessarily change your life. This goes against a lot of people’s beliefs, but I’ve found it so far to be true.
The same distractions that plagued me in the “normal” world followed me out here, from music to podcasts to audio books. If you want a thru hike to change you, then you have to be deliberate in the act.
You spend most of your day walking. This can either be a time of reflection, or a time of pushing out miles to the beat of Taylor Swift. I’ve done both, and neither way is better than the other. Either way, the past few days have been a wonderful time of reflection and thought.
We woke to the sound of rain on the roof. We slept in the hiker room to avoid the wetness, and enjoyed a pot of coffee and lucky charms to start the day.
We had about three miles of road walking when we finally gathered our things. The day would be cold and wet, so we moved slow. No hiker likes a road walk, so we pushed through as quickly as possible.
When we finally finished the road walk, we started climbing. As we climbed, the more exposed we became. The rain whipped our faces with ice, and mild to moderate hypothermia racked our bodies.
A kind day hiker saw our misery, and hiked our pace to the parking lot with his car. He let us pile in to the warm space, and we let the cold leak from our bones.
We hiked onwards, finally through the worst of the storm. It was nothing compared to the storms I’ve sailed and ran through, but it was still a tiring experience.
When we finally got to the road to Casa de Luna, a group of four got an easy hitch. Pavlov and I stayed behind, and ended up doing the 2 mile road walk almost the whole way to the trail angel’s house. Luckily, 0.4 miles from our destination a kind soul drove us soaked hikers the rest of the way.
Still shivering, a group of 8 of us decided to get a hotel room in Palmdale. Prodigy gave us a ride, and for 8 dollars a night we crowded into the small room. A dinner of In’n’Out was greatly appreciated, and 8 smelly hikers slept safely and warm through the night.
We started as early as possible the next day, after an Uber ride back to the Anderson’s. I enjoyed pancakes with lucky charms on top, and getting mooned by the trail angel while getting a photo taken.
We left in high spirits, getting a ride once again from Prodigy. The hike was easy, and I left out the headphones to think about the journey so far. Campo seems so far away, a lifetime ago.
Amid this reverie, I came upon a water cache about 8 miles into the day. We stopped there near a road, and heard the words “diet coke” come from another group of hikers near a truck. This could only mean one thing: trail magic.
We jump down to the road to see a BBQ being set up, and a man with his kid offering sodas to hikers. “I’ll bring more tomorrow” he said as the hikers kept pouring in. The wet weather meant everyone grouped at Casa de Luna, so a large swathe were coming through.
After a burger and coke, I hiked on to pass the 500 mile mark. A small celebration was had, mostly in my head, and I pushed out another 3 miles to a campsite. Tomorrow would bring the LA aqueduct, a notoriously hot and boring section. But that night I enjoyed a packed out beer and a good, if damp, night of sleep.
A 14 mile descent to the desert floor was our first obstacle for the day. I was in a pretty negative headspace, so the miles went slow. I pushed in the headphones, put my head down, and walked.
Luckily, the end of those hard miles held for me a burger and sodas. The small cafe outside of hikertown was minimally stocked with hiker resupply fare, but the burger and fries were delicious.
After the cafe, we got a ride back to hiker town with fresh food in our bellies and packs. Hikertown is a small hostel along the trail, that looks like a small western movie set.
We hiked on, then, towards the aqueduct. It was fun, and with the cooler weather we’ve had it was fine to do during the heat of the day. Joshua trees were in abundance, and the pipe walk was a fun switch up.
This ended up being a 32 mile day, since we didn’t want to camp in the windy aqueduct. We slept in the middle of a windfarm under the stars, and I concluded this was the second best night of sleep I’d gotten.
In the end, this day started out kind of down, but the last 18 miles were fun and filled with conversation and some positive mindfulness.
To Be or Tehachapi
Snow is on everyone’s minds right now. With about 150 miles to the start of the Sierras, a decision will soon need to be made. I’ve been of the mindset to not worry about it until it’s a problem, but its quickly becoming one. You either push through the snow and high creek crossings, or jump ahead and come back to that section later.
I think our group is going to try and push through the snow, but we want some more hikers to go through before us. So, we are in the middle of a triple zero in Tehachapi, which seemed like a better place to wait than Kennedy Meadows.
The hike to town was a pretty challenging one, with a large climb out of the wind farm and then a descent back down to the desert. We were graced with trail magic along the way, and we met the trail angel again at the farmers market the next day.
So far we’ve gone to see the new live action Aladdin, and eaten a lot of food. More of the same await me in the near future, and as always I look forward to the next section, which will carry us to Lake Isabella.
Side note, I’ve got a trail name! I now go by Squirtle, which is from one of my favorite childhood shows, Pokemon.
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