Days 46 & 47: Miles 529.3 – 558.3 (Tehachapi)

It amazes me how quickly information travels on the PCT. Technology certainly helps, but it’s the desire hikers have to watch after one-another that really impresses me. Whether a trail emergency, lost equipment, or an inquiry on what routes to take… there is no lack of immediate support while on trail.

Rachael received a message from a panicked parent, worried about her son. We had another storm this past weekend that brought strong winds and snow throughout Southern California. An 18 year old camper was out in the storm alone when his tent collapsed due to an accumulation of snow. The hiker’s mother found Rachael on FB and reached out to her for help.

The more hikers that join the trail, the more reports we hear. We hear stories of hikers receiving help from a network of people who all have the same goal in mind: get the hikers through this journey safely. It’s truly heartwarming.

Miles 529.3 – 541.5

Who would have thought that condensation would have been so bad in the Mojave Desert?!? Packrat, Bird, and I all woke-up to our sleeping bags soaking wet. It’s as if it rained, but it didn’t.

Good morning from the Mojave Desert.

Luckily for us, there is very little to the east to prevent the morning sun from immediately blanketing us with sunshine. This allowed us to immediately dry out our sleeping bags while we accomplished the rest of our morning tasks: brush our teeth, change clothes, pack away our backpacks, and look over the details of the day’s hike.

It wasn’t too long before we were back on trail. We were still following the aqueduct, which happens to run through a wind turbine farm.

Renewable energy on the PCT.

Walking through a wind farm is not easy. We spent hours walking head down in the wind, traversing hill after hill, just barely avoiding massive wind turbines. The constant sound of the wind and wind turbines is enough to make someone go insane. The turbines produce a deep, rhythmic whooshing sound, while the wind adds a splash of howling chaos.

It wasn’t the most pleasant hike we’ve had, but it did provide the three of us the opportunity to eat an early lunch at the base of one of those monstrous turbines.

Lunch under a wind turbine.

We hiked nearly 13 miles with just over 2,500 feet of ascent. The elevation gain was not steep, but stretched over nearly the entire day’s hike. Between the slow climb and the constant wind noise… we were exhausted and ready for a calm evening at camp.

It was still somewhat early in the afternoon when we decided to setup camp. There was a large climb ahead of us, and we were looking at another long stretch of trail without water. The most sensible thing for us was to setup camp and get hydrated before we tackled another large ascent.

The final climb into Tylerhorse Canyon.

We camped in Tylerhorse Canyon near a decently flowing creek. It was nice to have water nearby, but we were unsure what the condensation situation might be. Packrat made burritos for everyone… chicken with rice and beans. They were very tasty… better than Taco Bell.

Miles 541.5 – 558.3

Yay, no condensation! It truly is the little things in life that bring so much joy to one’s day. For me… no condensation is a small win that brings so much joy to my morning. It means I can get packed-up and back on the trail quickly.

Our morning started with two climbs. The first one was a nice warm-up climb. Not too steep… a decent mixture of both ascents and descents… the ideal hiking conditions to be frank. The second club on the other hand… not so nice.

The Tehachapi Mountains

In just over three hours, Packrat and I hiked 6 miles with 2,000 feet of ascent. Bird was a bit slower leaving camp this morning, so he was a bit behind us.

We had heard rumors there was trail magic at the top of the mountain. Seemed like an unlikely place to find trail magic considering it was on top of a mountain, but there was a dirt road near-by so it is possible.

I could see a red umbrella in the distance. Could it be?!? It was! A hiker oasis at the top of this mountain in the middle of the Mojave Desert. An adorable setup complete with chairs, and large umbrella, water, sodas, snacks… it truly was trail magic.

Seating with shade and a view.

The gentleman whom built and managed this hiker oasis passed away this past December (2023). According to the information left behind by his family, his dying wish was that his family continue to support the hikers. In his honor, they doing just that. If you know these people… please pass along my thanks to them!

The pantry, library, water cache, and hiker box.

Packrat and I decided to eat an early lunch while we had chairs and tables at our disposal. We were joined by a lovely couple from the Czech Republic (Google and Marketa). The four of us got to know each other while fueling our bodies for the remaining ten miles into Tehachapi.

If only we had a chef on duty.

We set off from the hiker oasis toward another wind turbine farm. The trail would eventually lead us down the mountain and onto a long ridge line that ran just below some massive wind turbines.

The slopes of the ridge line were covered in beautiful yellow and purple flowers (Bigelow’s Tickseed and Silver Bush Lupine). Packrat and I stopped numerous times to take pictures of the gorgeous landscape.

Hills of gold.
All smiles and wind burns.

Our hike became extremely windy as we traversed the slopes below the wind farm. It became very apparent very quickly as to why this area was chosen to host thousands of wind turbines. There was also another storm approaching that was predicted to deliver some incredible wind gusts.

Packrat and I made it to the Willow Springs Road just as the wind was really starting to pick up. Our feet ached and our faces wind burned. We were ready to get off trail.

Tehachapi was an important stop for Packrat and me. Our new shoes were waiting for us at the post office. I could hardly contain my excitement. My feet were dying in those worn out Altras.

New Danner trail runners… thank you Jen!


We ended up staying in Tehachapi for a couple days. The wind storm that hit the area was worst than initial weather reports had predicted. There was a tornado warning in effect for the local area, which didn’t give us the confidence to hit the trail right away. Plus, reports of numerous hikers having their tents collapse on them during the storm flooded the social media channels.

The three of us ended up staying at a trail angel’s house. It was by far our best stay… so much so that I feel inclined to write a blog post just for this single experience. Stay tuned…

Come visit me!!

Cheers, Smiley

One step at a time.

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