The Last Dregs of the Desert
We’ve hiked 652 miles! I’m currently at Happy Haven RV Park in Lake Isabella taking a zero day. We spent 4 days hiking here from Tehachapi. I did my laundry, took a shower, went grocery shopping, charged my electronics, and washed my stove so my town chores are over and I’ve found some time to write this post.
Heat Hiking Logistics
After at least one experience hiking in the heat of the day in the desert (I think I mentioned this in my last post), I vowed to never do it again. This has presented some new challenges as well as new rewards.
- Lack of sleep. Unfortunately, the most convenient time to hike would be in the middle of the day. But we’ve had to hike from 5-11 pm and then wake up to hike again by 4 am until we have to call it quits by 10 am at the latest. That leaves a 7 hour window in the middle of the day where we hide from the sun and try to nap.
- Hiking in the dark. This can also be a reward. But sometimes it’s slower because it’s a little more challenging to see the trail.
- Pleasant hiking temperatures
- AMAZING sunrises and sunsets
- Incredibly well-placed trail magic with life-saving trail angels.
Hikertown, the LA Aqueduct, and Trail Magic
Hikertown is somewhat of a hostel where the PCT intersects Highway 138. For a $5 donation, you can pitch your tent in their yard. Immediately following Hikertown is a 17 mile waterless stretch along the LA Aqueduct (yes, notice the irony) where the only shade available is an underpass (luckily, located at the water source 17 miles out). Our original plan was to stay at Hikertown and leave the following evening around 5 or 6 pm and night hike to the water. But after hanging around Hikertown for a few hours, A-Game and I decided to leave around 8:45 pm the same day we got there.
Note: I’m sure many people have a fine experience at Hikertown, but we decided to trust our gut and play it safe and hike alone in the wilderness instead of near people practicing their shooting and knife-throwing skills.
So we hiked under the stars for 6 miles, slept for 4-5 hours, and hiked 11 more miles starting at 4 am to make it to the shade before we melted.
I did not realize we were about to be rewarded with some of the best magic we’ve encountered until I was right outside the shade structure. There, in the desert, under the unrelenting sun, was a large shade building where a nice woman in a sundress came out and kindly asked me if I’d like a cold soda or some cereal. We ended up staying there for hours, on their comfortable chairs, eating veggie burgers and kimchee grilled cheese and drinking cold soda. They sprayed us with misters and gave us facials. They played quiet, calming music, and offered us cots to take naps. I think it met all of our hopes and dreams.
Windmills and Family
The climb after the LA Aqueduct was the beginning of hiking through hundreds and hundreds of wind turbines. We were on our way to Tehachapi, where I had close family that we were going to stay with. Abby and I event slept outside our tents (“cowgirl camped” as we like to call it) amongst all get turbines the night before getting into town.
Visiting my aunt and uncle in Tehachapi was an incredible treat. I got to sleep in a real bed and see the home my dad grew up in. It’s so nice to have had this short break from trail life!
The Final Stretch
We have 50 miles left of the desert until we hit Kennedy Meadows, the unofficial start of the Sierra’s. We are excited, nervous, and anxious. We are trading extreme heat and lack of water for freezing temperatures and maybe too much snow. But I’m so grateful for my trail family, our collective experience, and the decisions we make as a group. We are prepared to turn around, skip sections, and camp out at creek crossings until we are 100% sure it is safe to cross.
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.