Oooh the elements.
We haven’t really had to deal with the elements too much yet. Some heat and one rain storm. Well, those were not a factor in this last section, the lovely section f and beginning of g, but wind was. Here is the (b)low down.
Day 37: Golden Oaks Creek, Mile 583.2
I ended up leaving Tehachapi without my old tramily. They weren’t going to hit the trail till the late afternoon and I wanted to hike. So I left in the morning with Flicker and Chopsticks.
It was hard leaving the tramily and the trail angel’s house. She had given us access to her car, her fridge (that alone wins me over), a shower, laundry, she opened up everything to us. And she was constantly checking in to make sure we were ok. Wonderful human being. I really would love to hike with Pony Express and everyone again but I like to move. Not that there is a rush to get to Kennedy but still.
We started at the Highway 58 trailhead, and about two miles in Chopsticks rolled her ankle pretty bad and decided to go back to town to rest it. Flicker went with her so I trudged on, uphill, with eight days worth of food cause I was not planning on going into Lake Isabella.
Holy shit it was windy. It was SO windy. I had to walk at a 45 degree angle to counteract its push. Every once in a while I would round a ridge and it would block me from the wind but then I would walk right back into it around the next ridge. It was a decently pretty climb but I was so busy fighting the wind it was hard to enjoy it.
Only ended up doing 17 miles to the next water source. Roadrunner, Pilar, Two Taps, Dirty Avocado, and others were all there and we built a little tent community on a road above the water where we all slept.
Hiked a marathon! Woot woot. And didn’t feel like my legs were going to fall off, Hallelujah. It was a crazy morning. Woke up to insanely dense fog that didn’t blow off till one. It was like we were walking to the Temple of Doom and at any moment a giant ball was going to come careening down the trail or we were going to have to walk on some ancient alphabet to get to a holy grail. Mixing up movies but still, it was eery. I definitely pretended I was on some sort of adventure the entire time we hiked through the fog, singing Indiana Jones or Lord of the Rings. The fog was so dense that my shoes were wet and my steps were silent. It made it really cold too so lunch was short and sweet with lots of on-the-go snacking.
The crew caught up to me at lunch and when the fog finally blew off we saw what we were walking through: beautiful forest with sweet rock formations. It was gorgeous. We camped at a Lander’s campground, which was the last water for the next 35 miles. I left Pony Express notes in all the registries seeing if they’ll catch up… but who knows.
So yesterday was beautiful and today was insane. The wind I mentioned earlier? Multiply that times five and that is what we walked through today. The beginning was fine, the supposed water cache six miles in existed so only 29 miles sans water, and then we hit the wind. Or it hit us. It was blowing, not gusting because it was CONSTANTLY blowing, at 45mph. I am not kidding. It literally moved our bodies. I walked at a 45 degree angle again and when it stopped for a brief second I would almost walk off trail. Then it would pick up again and I was walking up the slope above the trail before I regained my balance. It kept changing direction and just never, ever stopped. There were a couple times I just couldn’t move forward. Oh, and we were walking on sand! The freaking trail was sand and uphill at parts with massive violent wind. So nuts.
All we could do was power on slowly but surely until we made it to the second water cache, which also ended up existing. It even had snacks! Almost made up for the wind. My body ached from walking in the sand and wind so I decided to camp there. I was so delirious at that point – couldn’t stop laughing at the situation and the song “She Wolf” of all things – and it took me a while to sit down and be functional. We found a sanctuary by some Joshua Trees and camped there. Fell asleep at 7:30 cause we were so zonked.
Happy Birthday to me! Best birthday I have had in a while. We ended up getting rained on last night so we all pulled out our tents as a second blanket. Apparently it snowed on the ridge! So it was coooooold. I wore dirty socks as gloves and both my jackets when I started hiking. The wind had died down, thank the freaking lord, so the climb and ridge walk was actually enjoyable.
I walked with Flicker and S&M (Spaghetti and Meatballs, previously known as Pilar) and the miles just rolled away. Then we happened upon Far Out, a 2016 hiker, who gave us two beers each cause of my birthday! Whatta guy. Two beers… did the job and we all got tipsy. Walking while tipsy is a trip. No pun. It’s just funny. We had two miles left and giggled our way to Walker Pass for a hitch to Lake Isabella. Because we managed to get there on my birthday, I decided to go into town.
At Walker Pass was Coppertone! I ate a cinnamon roll, garlic chicken, and a rootbeer float. Again, great bday. Then, not kidding, Legend pulls up! With Isko, Fyre, (other people who started April 30) and Chopsticks! Chopsticks had bought me cookies, which were gone in less than seven minutes. I screamed like a girl for five minutes straight out of excitement at seeing everyone, and everyone knows I don’t usually scream like a girl.
Far Out ended up giving us all a ride to the RV campground and bought me another birthday beer. Wilder, Crimson, and Chillstep were all at the campsite!! So many great faces. The bday dinner ended up being Little Cesar’s and a shitton of ice cream, followed by chilling at a campfire and beer. Not complaining and I was SO happy to see everyone again. Such a good birthday. And cause I was in town I got all the electronic birthday wishes too! Thank you for all the love and bday wishes, it means a lot. Miss you out there in the real world, for real, I do.
I ended up getting Vortexed (sucked into staying in civilzation) in Isabella cause I liked the people I was hiking with and wanted to stick with them to solidify the people I would conquer(?) the Sierra with. There is also no rush to get to Kennedy. There is still so much snow.
It was worth it. One, I got a stick-n-poke tattoo. Just a little wave on my heel. And two…I met another Cal ultimate player!!! Every time, I mean every time I travel and wear an ultimate shirt, I meet a Cal ultimate player. By the Louvre, Plitzkevitzke, and now in Lake Isabella. She played for our B team and just graduated, Layla. Turns out her sister was the president of the coop system I lived in! Such a small world. I was stoked.
Day 42: Owen Wildnerness Ridge, Mile 676.1
Got a nice early 4:25am wake up for a lovely car sickness-inducing bus ride. It was an immediate climb out of Walker Pass and HOT. We siestaed for fourish hours at Spanish Creek and Payless showed up! Sorry for all these names…but they are people I have hiked with for one or two days. I thought this guy was way ahead but I guess he got sick and was off trail for five days. It is so cool to see people again and reconnect cause you really never know if you will see them again. Ya, they add you on instagram (really, if you wanna be insta-famous, hike the PCT. Everyone and their mom wants to follow you. And I am not kidding about their mom’s) but face-to-face interaction could be never again.
After the siesta we climbed and climbed, 2000 feet, and had some sweet vistas. We passed by a lookout with a view of the desert that we were finally leaving behind. On the other side was the granite beginnings of the southern Sierra. A goodbye and a hello. All in the same state. CA is pretty amazing, with a desert and 10,000 foot mountains right next to each other. I am excited to move on from the desert, even though it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too dry, and it was different than anything I had hiked through. But I am ready for some revisiting of the Sierra. With snow and crazy water crossings and stupid high passes. From one adventure to the next!
Last night we camped on a ridge and today we hiked four miles outside of Kennedy. It wasn’t an amazing walk, just through some burn areas, so we walked almost all the way through to camp. These gold fly wasp things also showed up and they freaking bite. Meaning there was a lot of me yelling at them while I walked.
We got to our campsite, a river bed, at 3:30, which meant we got to chill. Did a towel wash in the river, we got to camp by an actual river, and then we played hot seat. So much fun. I love these guys – Dirty Avocado, Baby Carrot, Roadrunner, Two Taps, Flicker. Kennedy tomorrow!
WE MADE IT TO KENNEDY. It is the booniest town, population of 200, but it is such a benchmark in all of our minds. I mean a huge benchmark. I can’t believe that we made it here. It is crazy!!
We waltzed the five miles in a flying V formation (see the insta post, rad photo) and got the round of applause. It was surreal being there. We aren’t even halfway done with CA but we are in Kennedy freaking Meadows! And everything is going to change. We’ve been averaging more than twenty miles a day and now we’re gonna be down to less than fifteen. And cold all the time. And wet. What is water?? It’s been so dry and now we are going to deal with melted water, frozen water, all the water. Ah I can’t believe it!
I pretty much waited for my mom all day. She wanted to deliver my Kennedy box personally and hike out a few miles. Well…that turned into an ordeal. The wifi at Kennedy is pretty much non-existant and there is no cell service so I could send about two texts every hour. Found out she forgot some of my stuff and got lost so the new ETA went from four to eight thirty. Everyone wanted to meet “Mamma Otter” and we started joking that she wasn’t real.
I finally saw the CRV down the road and started yelling, everyone ran to the parking lot, and Mamma Otter got out of the car. She brought April, my best friend’s mom, and Alfie, our neurotic dog. Alfie was a hit, the chicken tacos were a hit, and we dealt with the gear stuff later.
We were all pretty tired and only hung out with the mootar for a bit before making a pit stop at the teepee campfire. Twp Taps, Dirty A, and I laid in the parking lot to look at the insane starts then finally went to bed.
We zeroed in Kennedy just to mentally prep for the Sierra. There really isn’t much to do here so we ended up going down to the river and swimming. I cannot tell you what a luxury swimming is. Just submerging. Ah I love it. It was a chill day, pretty much just hung out with people and hawked the hiker box super hard. I think I am set on food until Mammoth. Hiker boxes are so addiciting. It’s where people put their unwanted gear and food. Which is pretty much a gold mine for me. Trash conpacter to the max. I got milk powder, dried peanut butter, super expensive granola, so much goodness. And shipping it all ahead.
Planned for a 5:30am start tomorrow to beat the heat.
Day 46: Near Olancha Pass, Mile 725
So we climbed 5000 feet and didn24 miles. Freaking champs. I am do proud of my body. It is amazing what it is capable of and how ok it feels. Ya I’m sore (really felt it the next day) but I don’t feel broken.
Mom walked about four miles out with me, so she got to see a smidge of the trail. It is a sweet section, I could see her coming back and doing it. She left me at the bridge full of yunny food and most of my gear. I’ll see her again in the Sierra.
It was unbelievabley gorgeous. I am so happy to be done with the desert. We walked through Beck Meadow which was breathtaking. A vast expanse of green with snow covered mountains as a back drop. It was so nice to finally, finally see that.
We ended up lunching at the South Fork of the Kern where we got to swim again. The miles just rolled by because the terrain was so awesome. No snow yet. The one down side was the mosquitos, they are FIERCE. I have probably already killed over fifty. Time to get used to that. They made me pitch my tent, third time in over 300 miles. Twenty-two miles into Lone Pine tomorrow.
Made it to Lone Pine in two days. Yeah, my body felt more sore today and these 22 miles felt a lot harder than the 24 yesterday. The scenery wasn’t as pretty but there was still so much water. Having to only carry a liter at a time is so nice. Especially when we now have our bear cans, ice axes, and microspikes. Heavy packs. And there will be even more water coming up.
We kinda just kept walking and took Mulkey Pass out to Lone Pine. We had our first ford – a meager foot deep creek. We were told it can be waist high but it was quite mellow. We walked through Horseshoe Meadow, another beautiful green stretch. I’ve been here before but honestly cannot remember it. Got a hitch with an elderly man down the steep windy road. Went from 10,000 feet to 4,000 feet.
We grabbed some pizza then called up a trail angel who had given us her number at Walker Pass. So so so nice. We all have beds and they had amazing grilled chicken and laundry and showers. Ah. People. So great. Turns out my package is taking an extra day so…another zero. Ugh. Oh well. Life goes on. Whitney is up next and then the real Sierra, with snow and water crossings. I am nervous but excited. It is a whole new ball game now. Time to get started.
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