My Final and Longest Day in the Desert
I arrived at Hiker Town two days ago. Hiker Town is one of those iconic places you hear about on the PCT. I’ve heard many rumors about it, both bad and good. As I hike through fields cluttered with abandoned cars, electronics, and other debris I began to get the picture. I walk up to a wire fence, push through a gate and am soon surrounded by many small buildings that look like they are from an old western film. I take a moment to observe the oddness of it all. I am relieved when I find other hikers congregated around a table. Aside from the creepy mannequins and the rattlesnake next to my tent, I actually ended up having a great time! I go to bed at 7:00 p.m. in preparation for my 2:00 a.m. wake up. The next section of trail is the most waterless, exposed section of the PCT.
At 3:00 a.m., equipped with headlamps and glow sticks, myself and four others set off into the dark, windy Mojave desert. The trail follows the LA aqueduct for about 15 miles through private property. As we walk on top of the big rusty pipeline and through the night, dogs bark at us from behind fences and glowing eyes stare at us from the bushes. Two hours later the sun begins to rise and for a little while the desert is covered in perfect soft colors of the morning. By 8:00 a.m. the hot beating sun is upon us, there is little shade apart from the Joshua trees and desert shrubs.
I desperately need new shoes and I can feel every rock as I walk along the seemingly endless dirt road. After a 17 mile waterless stretch we come to a creek and bridge. I rest in the shade of the bridge and make coffee before carrying on. The dirt road turns back into trail and winds up into rolling brown hills covered in windmills. By 12:00 p.m. I have gone over 25 miles. There is a wonderful breeze and cloud cover from the afternoon thundershowers. I feel my body moving effortlessly up into the hills. Could I make it 15 more miles to Tehachapi?
The Final Stretch
I keep walking, afraid to take a break and lose my momentum. As I finish another climb up the hillside I see a red umbrella and chairs. Trail magic! In the middle of the desert, there is a “pantry” filled with fruit and baked goods as well as a water cache. I allow myself to sit and eat for 15 minutes and chat with some other hikers.
Soon the time is up and I have ten more miles, mostly downhill. Piece of cake. I half-run down the winding trail. Soon I am out of the hills and back in the desolate dry desert. Surrounded by more windmills, ugh. Five more miles. My feet hurt and the sandy trail feels hot beneath my sore feet. Every step feels like a chore. Why did I decide to do this? I am daydreaming about showing and sitting and sleeping. I think I feel a new blister, and I’m basically using my trekking poles as crutches at this point.
Finally I see it. The road.
At 6:54 p.m., 41 miles and 16 hours later, I’ve made it.
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.