The End Of The Desert
What a momentous few hundred miles it’s been!
Back on Trail
I returned to the trail at the Acton KOA and hiked to Hiker Heaven, a trail angel’s house that hosts hikers and has all the amenities a hiker needs. I camped in a tent city and watched the amazing sunset.
In the morning, I met another hiker named Rhyme Time and we decided to hike out together. Despite the heat, we felt good and hiked hard all day. We ended up in a race with the sun to make it to the road to another trail angel’s house before dark. We quickly caught a hitch and arrived at the famous Casa de Luna. It was a surreal experience. There had to be at least 50 hikers in the front yard. Everyone was singing I’m Gonna Be by The Proclaimers, a favorite amongst thru-hikers. We ate taco salad and drank cold beer and relaxed after our 25 mile day.
Casa de Luna
Casa de Luna offered camping in the large forest behind the property. I ended up taking a zero day there the next day. I met many amazing hikers, but most importantly I ended up meeting my trail family.
Getting My Trail Name
I told my new trail family the story of seeing my first snake on trail a few hundred miles ago. I had been talking about how I hadn’t seen a snake on trail and right at that moment a snake slithered right between my legs. After the story they gave me my trail name! I am now known as Jinx on trail.
I hiked out of Casa de Luna with my new trail family: Dobby, Erin, Tootsie, Papacorn, and Gourmet. We hiked all day and finally hit the 500-mile marker. That night I cowboy camped, or camped under the stars without my tent, for the very first time.
My First Night Hike
After an amazing sleep we hiked to another famous place, Hikertown. We decided to do something crazy that evening. Ahead of us was the LA Aqueduct and about 17 miles without shade. After a few hours of rest, we headed out to night hike those 17 miles.
I had never night hiked before and what an experience it was! The aqueduct is very flat and mostly obstacle free so we were able to hike without headlamps for much of it. The stars were amazing. We reached the end at 3 in the morning for a total of 32 miles hiked that day.
A Few Hard Days
The next day, a massive group of hikers huddled under a bridge to hide from the sun and heat. I headed out that afternoon with another member of the trail family named Geo. We didn’t make it too far before a thunderstorm rolled in.
After long water carries and hot days, we made it to Tehachapi, where we took another zero and did important town chores like laundry and showering.
The next section was quite difficult. We had lots of climbs and long water carries. Sometimes I would have to carry six liters of water. Every single day we’d hike 20 miles or more. Some days were very challenging personally for me and I had to call home on some occasions to talk with family for support.
Trail Magic at Walker Pass
As I neared a campground at Walker Pass, I was hoping that the rumors of trail magic there were true. I just wanted a cold drink or fresh fruit. As I hiked down the hill, I saw some campers set up and a lot of hikers around so I headed over. It turned out that a crew of past thru-hikers were putting on trail magic there. They called it Hobofest. There was a kiddie pool full of beer and sodas and endless snacks all over the picnic table. They cooked kebabs for us that night and fed us every kind of fresh fruit imaginable. We camped there that evening.
Gourmet and I got a hitch to Ridgecrest and resupplied. We hiked out that evening and started out on the last stretch of the desert.
Finishing the Desert
I found myself camped alone 27 miles from Kennedy Meadows. I decided to do something big the next day and finish the desert with a marathon day. I woke up early and watched the sunrise and I hiked. As the day wore on the terrain began to look less and less desert-like and more and more like the Sierra. I caught up with my buddy Fast Cash and he and I hiked hard all day, enjoying the last of the desert.
We passed mile 700 and hiked the last two miles to the Kennedy Meadows general store. We felt elated and exhausted. As we stumbled up to the store, there were tons of hikers hanging out on the porch who cheered for us as we hiked the last few feet of the desert.
The desert was incredible. It offered so many challenges and many learning opportunities. Now I’m looking forward. Ahead of me is the majestic Sierra Nevada. I will pick up new gear, including an ice axe and bear canister. The rivers are full and the mountain passes are snowy, but conquering the desert has given me the confidence to head in. I’m excited for the new challenges.
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