The LA Aqueduct: A Dark, Flat Walk
My campsite before the aqueduct was my first night camping alone. I both loved and hated it; the solitude was great until every rustle of leaves sounded like a mountain lion.
At 4:30 a.m., I started my methodical routine of packing up.
First, I unzipped my tent to grab my hiking shirt and shorts. Every night, they are hung on the outside of the tent to air out. After changing and putting my sleep clothes away, I stuff my sleeping bag into the bottom of my pack. Then I undo the nozzle to my sleeping pad and gently roll it up and stuff it in its sack. I cram my clothes bag, food bag, pad, miscellaneous bag, and puffy into my pack and throw the whole thing out of the tent. I cram my feet into my boots and emerge. Next, the tent comes down and I attach it to the outside of my pack. After a quick bar for breakfast and a lovely hole dug in the woods, I’m ready to hike.
Hiker Town was a quick 15 miles away. I stopped eight miles in for some overly chewy red vines. What I thought was a gentle downhill turned into a roller coaster of ups and downs, eventually leading out to a dirt road. Hiker Town came into view soon after – a cluster of weird, small buildings labeled things like “Post Office,” “Hotel,” and “Pet Store.”
We ditched our packs at city hall, ran into Bob, the caretaker, and got keys to a van.
Camel drove a group of us over to a convenience store where I downed two milkshakes, a root beer, and a burger. We soon thereafter made it back to Hiker Town and posted up at city hall for the remainder of the afternoon.
The plan was simple: sleep all day, leave at 7 p.m. when it was nice and cool, and hike the 23 miles or so out of the aqueduct area.
Well, I didn’t end up sleeping and neither did my friends Belch and Organic. When 6 p.m. rolled around, I made coffee and packed my things. Even though the three of us were tired, we had to try.
The walk was flat as promised and we did our mandatory aqueduct pipe walk before getting annoyed at all the bumps on the pipes. We returned to the road next to it and walked. And walked and talked and walked and talked. At one point, Belch checked to see how far we’d gone. I guessed exactly on the mark: seven miles. We donned our headlamps and continued on for two miles when we came across a concrete slab over the aqueduct. It was a few feet high and perfect for a resting place. In fact, we saw a friend of ours cowboy camping on one later on. We snacked, removed our shoes, and relaxed before heading on in the dark. At one point, we continued to follow the aqueduct, and missed a turn. Luckily, we only went one-quarter of a mile before realizing our mistake. After four more miles, we were pooped and had to take another break, this time on the wide dirt road that we had been walking on.
It was time to rethink our strategy; the campsite we were aiming for was eight miles away and we were dead on our feet.
With such an early start that morning, and no additional sleep during the day, our bodies were ready to stop. We hiked three more miles and found a stealth spot at 2 a.m. At 5:30 we were up and out to finish the aqueduct. After a short stretch, we traversed a windy, windy, wind farm and laid in some shade for the rest of the morning.
Other updates: My trail name is Juice.
It’s short for Tuna Juice, after an unfortunate, messy incident with a tuna packet and a tortilla. My tramily said goodbye to our dear Riff, who is off trail, but hopes to return.
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