Chapter 9: PCT Week 7: “Wind Giants”

Chapter 9: Week 7: “Wind Giants”
Days 43-49: 4/17-4/23/22
Total Trail Miles: 85.80
Total GPS Recorded Miles: 88.97
Cumulative Trail Miles: 608.90
From: L.A. Aqueduct and Pasadena to Landers Meadow Campground


Day 43 // April 17, 2022 // Trail Miles: 0.00 / GPS Recorded Miles: 0.00 / Cumulative Trail Miles: 523.10

~Destination // Two Zero Days in Pasadena, CA~

Easter Sunday, and our last zero in Pasadena. The entire list of things we did throughout the day involved us sitting, sleeping, eating, drinking coffee, opening packages we’d ordered on Amazon, and walking distances no further than 100 feet to get some sunshine. It was amazing how we’d ordered packages no less than 24 hours ago and there they were delivered at the door.

Dan Kale was an avid hiker and led a troupe of Boy Scouts. That morning he pulled out his maps of the California sections we’d been through and those up ahead. It was interesting to see foldable maps with thousands of trails and locations on them. Whenever I’ve mentioned us “looking at our map” or anything similar, I’ve referred to the map on our phones, in our app, FarOut. But to see the trail we’d hiked on a piece of paper surrounded by so much land that we hadn’t explored, well, it made our one sliver of dirt seem small against that massive expanse.

Christeena, Dan, and their kiddo spent Easter Dinner with friends, but Megan stayed behind. She needed to run a few errands but was going to make us an Easter Dinner feast. Fresh veggies, lamb, red wine, and a view on the front terrace overlooking Pasadena set the stage.

We sat there for a while enjoying the view, the phenomenal meal Megan had labored over, and then I raced off to the bathroom to throw it all up. I wasn’t sick and didn’t have Covid-19, but for some reason it happened. I was in the restroom for thirty minutes sitting by the porcelain throne before brushing my teeth and falling asleep. Was it too much food? Too much decadent, rich food? I had no clue.

Easter Dinner

Easter Dinner


Day 44 // April 18, 2022 // Trail Miles: 12.00 / GPS Recorded Miles: 12.54 / Cumulative Trail Miles: 535.10

~Destination // Tehachapi Windfarm Campsite MM 535.10~

Two days. Two days of rest, gluttony, and relaxation, but we were anxious to start hiking. Our legs were revved to move. It was wonderful being hosted by Megan, Christeena, Dan, and their daughter. Hours of catching up and conversation were what the doctor ordered, on top of that full-body massage. Thank you all again for being such amazing hosts!

The day Megan took us back was bittersweet, but we’d started to miss our old friend “the trail.” She’d been both harsh and wonderful to us for 41 days, and we longed to greet her again. We said our farewells to Megan, snapped a few pictures, and hiked off into the distance together along the flat expansive desert.

The trail followed a paved road, the same road that covered the piped aqueduct. We hiked along it for a few hours before stopping under the shade of a Joshua Tree for lunch. Every few minutes we had to shift around the patchy shade to move with the sun.

Off in the distance we could make out massive white goliaths. Wind giants. Turbines. We were hiking through the Mojave Slopes the next day, and the second largest wind farm on the planet. As we left our lunch spot, hiked a few more miles, and approached our first turbines, we could hear a droning “woooooooosh” and feel a humming vibration on our skin.

We’d gotten a later start around 11AM and decided to camp at a small water cache just by a bridge. When we got there, the sun was barely beginning to set, but our muscles felt like we hadn’t been hiking in weeks. We were sore. Very sore. It must have been the massage and two days of being sedentary.

There was an adjacent bridge near the water cache where we found a small, cleared-out campsite with a few squirrel residents hanging out. It was the perfect site that came with its own white noise, the drone of the turbines. Lulled to sleep by the wind and hums, we knew the next day would bring wind. If only we’d known how much.





Day 45 // April 19, 2022 // Trail Miles: 23.40 / GPS Recorded Miles: 23.55 / Cumulative Trail Miles: 558.50

~Destination // Tehachapi, CA~

The wind was savage all night. Luckily, we’d camped in a bit of a hole protected from the full force of it, but it still rocked our tent. When we were packed, started out, and hit the ridge where the trail led, we were immediately shoved by its force. It was still early morning, so we could only see what was in the orb of our headlamps. The wind was ceaseless throughout the morning dark and through sunrise. Time of day didn’t matter. Clouds zoomed through a blue sky.

Tehachapi was testing our limits. Had there been protected coves or groves, we might have hunkered down for a while to wait it out. Basecamp was having a difficult time getting back into the rhythm after so many zero days in Pasadena and the sheer intensity of the wind wasn’t helping. In some areas it pushed us from behind, helping us move just a bit faster. In other stretches it would blow full-face against us or knock us from side to side, often leading to a trip or stumble.

We pulled a Garmin weather report and checked our phones when a bar of service popped up. It appeared we were in the midst of a severe wind warning across the Mojave Slopes. There was no going back, only through. We’d planned for around 30 miles that day, but the wind drastically slowed down our pace. It was also frigid with temps in the 40’s before windchill.

Basecamp struggled to keep her footing. You’d know when it was coming. You could hear the wind roar off in the distance, boom, and five seconds later it would hit with a force we’d only experienced one other time in Iceland. A few miles from the road to Tehachapi we crested a climb and came upon a wilderness cafe set up, introduced by a bear sign, “Mile 549 Bar & Grill.” It was a small, windless haven in the middle of nowhere. We were exceedingly grateful for it.

When we finally reached the parking lot and access road for Tehachapi a man walked up to us and introduced himself as Abel. He trail-angeled (or TAed) for the area along with a handful of others. We exchanged numbers and said we’d reach out if we decided to hang around the area a bit longer since we’d already reached out to the main angel in the area, Cheryl. She was on her way to get us and feed us homemade casserole. Our plan had been to camp there and bypass Tehachapi only going in for a quick food resupply, but the one available campsite protected from wind was taken. Forlorn, we’d called Cheryl. We needed to get out of the wind.


Turbine in the night

Turbine in the night


Day 46 // April 20, 2022 // Trail Miles: 8.00 / GPS Recorded Miles: 7.98 / Cumulative Trail Miles: 566.50.

~Destination // Slack Pack Day to Tehachapi, CA~

The head-honcho trail angel in Tehachapi was wonderful to us. After she’d picked us up the night before we were able to shower, eat homemade casserole, and pie. We reached out to Abel, the man we’d met at the trailhead, and asked him if he’d be okay allowing us to stay with him the next day and slack-pack the 8-mile section of trail from where he’d met us to the end of the SoCal section of the PCT. We were about to enter the Sierra Section. Abel agreed.

He showed up at Cheryl’s to pick us up, dropped us off at the trail parking lot where we’d met the day before, and held our packs in his truck while we hiked and ran 8 miles. It only took us 2 hours to run that distance both up and downhill. We didn’t see other hikers until the last stretch. When we peaked the last climb and saw our endpoint for the day, we could see Abel’s truck parked below, and also the silhouettes of about 6 other hikers who we believed to be Robby, Mach 5, and a few others from their tramily. This was the same group we’d gotten to know on our 31-mile day into the Messenger Flats Campground. Despite hauling tail downhill, we couldn’t catch them.

When we reached the pick-up point, the hikers were gone, but Abel was there, and one other guy we’d never met. His name was Gossamer, on account of his early morning starts and clearing out the spider webs for everyone.

Abel offered to host us that night and took us to Walmart for a food resupply. They had dehydrated, refried beans, a welcomed treat in the backcountry. We happily accepted and embraced the moment despite knowing we should get back on trail. That night, Gossamer whipped up his turkey teriyaki burgers for dinner and we met Abel’s wife, a teacher. They were both such great humans.

After dinner, Abel took us downstairs to his “man cave” and workshop. There were hand-made wooden trains and other masterfully crafted woodworks. His work was beautiful. When we were done admiring each trinket, we all played a bit of pool with beers and sat down to watch a movie: McFarland, USA. It was a Disney film about a track team which felt perfect given our day of running. We fell asleep before finishing it.


Abel, his wife, and Gossamer

Abel, his wife, and Gossamer


Day 47 // April 21, 2022 // Trail Miles: 10.70 / GPS Recorded Miles: 10.98 / Cumulative Trail Miles: 577.20

~Destination // Saddle Campsite at MM 577.20~

Oh, to have stayed another day with Abel. It was hard to leave such a welcoming place, but as always, the miles wouldn’t hike themselves, and we knew we’d be ready to hike again in just a few hours. After breakfast, we lugged our gear into his truck while Gossamer decided to stay back.

Abel wanted to hike in a few miles with us, and we were grateful for the extra company while hiking alongside the highway. The sun was beating down, and there was still a threat of high wind for the day. A storm was blowing in and we expected it to dump a thin layer of snow on the area. Given that, we wanted to find a protected campsite and be cozy inside before sunset and the storm.

At around 3 miles from where he’d parked, Abel said it was time for him to turn back. It almost brought us to tears seeing him go, not only because we truly liked him and all the kindness he’d shown, but because he was the last piece of “town” that we’d see for the next week until we reached Kennedy Meadows South (KMS). Our goal was to hike the entire stretch to KMS without another town stop. It would also prepare us for bigger food carries in the Sierras- something that was inevitably in our near future.

Almost immediately after Abel departed, the wind filled his absence. The climb out of “Tehachapi”, which translates to ‘hard climb’, was just that. The climb was difficult and windswept. There were several times Basecamp had to stop dead in her tracks so the wind didn’t knock her off ledges or into rockfaces.

The closer we got to the small campsite icon on our FarOut app, the darker the sky grew. Luckily, the trail wound through tall shrubs and then into tree line, so we were protected from the increasing gale, but we could hear it. It whipped and howled all around us like an enemy just outside the gates. When we were finally on top of the campsite, we realized it was in the middle of a saddle. More often than not, saddle campsites were windy. We sighed with relief when we found a flat, sandy spot wedged between tall trees and thick shrubs. Standing in the middle of our site, we couldn’t feel a thing. I grabbed our pots and sat them out, open, hoping to collect a bit of snow to melt for coffee in the morning. After the sun set, the snow started, but we were protected in our tiny, portable home.


Abel seeing us off before we hit the trail solo again

Abel seeing us off before we hit the trail solo again


Day 48 // April 22, 2022 // Trail Miles: 10.10 / GPS Recorded Miles: 10.37 / Cumulative Trail Miles: 587.30.

~Destination // Windfarm Campsite at MM 587.30~

Our pots had barely collected a few ounces of snow. Overnight, the “huge” snowstorm had left maybe an inch of powder that was more or less melted by the time we were up and hiking. The result was slick, muddy, unstable trail. For miles we skidded, tripped, and fell in the mud. Streaks of brown stained our legs, clothes, and packs. The climbs and descents took twice as long as normal. We could see the massacre that had taken place ahead of us by hikers who’d also started out after the snow. Altra and Hoka tracks created skid marks on trail alongside uprooted grass and handprints from hikers who’d fallen.

The later start and mud made for slow miles that drained Basecamp’s moral. The fog and mist stayed with us for hours, but as it often does, the sun eventually cut through and brightened things up a bit. Around mile 10, however, Basecamp began to drag from the weight of her pack. The long food-carry made it a struggle, even after 500 miles of hiking the trail. We each had around 10 pounds of food (mine being heavier), but I also had a larger frame and weighed 75 pounds more than her, so I could handle a heavier load. The rational was/is that you carry a ton of food for a long stretch and will likely do lower miles the first few days. As you eat food out of your pack, you drop weight and move faster. A simple concept, but not always easy in practice.

So, at just over 10 miles, we decided to stop for the day and set up camp. In the middle of a small turbine field was a tall cluster of trees that sloped downhill. Picking a large clearing with a canopy overhead, we claimed our site with no other hikers around. It wasn’t until sunset that another fella hiked by and decided to pitch a few feet from us in another clearing. His name was “Boondoggle”, and he had a clear southern accent. We chatted a bit but weren’t in the mood for heavy conversation that night, especially having eaten dinner and already gotten in our sleeping bags. As the stars popped into the sky one by one, we could hear the wind and turbines spinning with their droning “woosh” as we fell asleep.


Frost and mud in the hazy morning

Frost and mud in the hazy morning


Day 49 // April 23, 2022 // Trail Miles: 21.60 / GPS Recorded Miles: 23.55 / Cumulative Trail Miles: 608.90

~Destination // Landers Meadow Campground~

Our goal was to reach Landers Meadow and Spring for camp. It would be a bit off trail, but we wanted to camp by water and hoped there would be trail magic at the campground waiting for us. While it was still black, we left camp and hiked through thick mist. Visibility was barely 5′ when we started. Our headlamps only created an illuminated bubble of gray mist around us. It was eerie, but also oddly comforting.

The sun finally rose and seared through the haze, clearing the sky and blowing the clouds away. We reached a lush, green meadow with grand old oaks. There was supposed to be a water source nearby according to our map, but further inspection of our FarOut trail app showed it to be a mile straight uphill for 600-700 feet, and back. It would have been at least an hour side quest, so we decided to keep going. The water cache that was supposed to be at the split right on trail had long since been wiped out. That’s the gamble you take with caches, however. A few hundred feet further we spotted what appeared to be an old wheel well for a tractor tire, upside down, filled with a liter or so of water. I was concerned about possible lead contamination, but we collected it anyways as a last resort. I was pretty certain our Sawyer filters wouldn’t remove lead if it was an issue, and who knew how old the well was.

A few miles further we came across a partially shaded patch of trail with snow lining it. Unexpected salvation! We collected it in our bladders and let the sun do the rest. Snow volume collected only produces about half that volume in water once melted, but it was still water, and I felt much better about drinking it than the orange-tinted water from the tractor part. There’d been reports of a mountain lion sighting in the area, so I kept an eye out the entire time we hiked and stopped to collect snow. Once you hear a mountain lion, it may be too late.

Hours and several hundred vertical feet later, we hit the 600-mile marker and reached a water spring…surrounded by cow pies. It was a rough water pull. Reluctantly we collected and spoke to Boondoggle a bit, who’d passed us and stopped there for lunch. We had lunch just above the spring and found a full bottle of sunscreen sitting there at what looked like the remains of an old brick building. Our lucky day! We were just about out of sunscreen. It must have been dropped by a hiker due to weight. It’s truly amazing just how the trail provided like that. With our newfound gift, we took a nap in the sun.

Navigating through the minefield of cow pies, we set out. When the trail transitioned to dry pine forest and high desert, we were in awe of how drastic the landscape had changed. Near 22 miles there was a message written in the sand about trail magic at Landers. Yes! We took the split for Landers Meadow Campground. There were people there, but, alas, no trail magic, and no goodies offered. We walked a loop around the entire campground with our hopes high, but in vain. After a hard day and our heads hung low from not finding the magic we’d dreamt of, we made a ramen dinner and went to bed. But at least we had a reputable water source, finally, and our stomachs were full. Maybe we’d get lucky in the morning?


Morning mist being blown out by the sun

Morning mist being blown out by the sun

To see more photos, videos, reels, and podcast, check out our  Linktree  where you can find our Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, and Podcast links!

Podcast Name: “Yeti Walks Into Basecamp”, found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

We look forward to sharing more with you!

Basecamp and I heading into the desert Me by a Joshua Tree Mile 549 Cafe Tehachapi terrain 600-mile marker

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?