Trail Days: Hiker Town to Kennedy Meadows

Reality Hits

The trail family and I spent a day at the wee vill market before our evening departure of the LA Aqueduct. This stretch of trail is notoriously hot so we decided to night hike this section. Not only did we decide to hike at night, we came to the rational (not rational) conclusion to hike straight from hiker town into Tehachapi in one go, totaling 41 miles in length. Of course I agreed, because I enjoy a little bit of chaos on the trail. We gathered the trail family and set off as the sun was setting behind the mountains. The energy was high as we walked on top the large steel pipe that holds water for all of LA. It felt exciting, like a new chapter was unfolding. The reality of our situation set in as the sky went dark and headlamps were turned on. We stopped for a quick dinner to fuel ourselves before walking between the big wind turbines. As we were walking, I began to doubt my ability of making it through the night. I turned to Dan and said, “I’m going to need to take so many breaks, I’m not sure I can make it all night.”

Mind, Body, and Trail Family

About 30 minutes later, my mindset shifted and I began to fully believe I was capable of conquering our quest. I turned on my music and began to meditate on the pain in my feet, breathing in and out. As the night continued I found myself at the front of our group, winding around bends and pushing up hills. The wind put up a fight and mice ran across our feet in the fields. We walked past sleeping hikers and took a few breaks for water refill and snacks. We were greeted by a new day with a beautiful sunrise as we reached the top of another mountain. I felt a new energy wash over me as the sun flooded the hills, the perfect time to push for the final stretch. The last few miles I found more difficult as we got closer and the day grew warmer. I tried not to verbally complain too much to my fellow hikers but let out a few moans here and there. As we arrived to the interstate, our ride pulled up at the same time. A true godsend. I’m so grateful for my body, mind, and trail family for making this happen. 41 miles and 16 hours later we made it into the town of Tehachapi. There a bed was waiting for me, and a full day off trail.

The Sound of Victory 

After our much needed rest in town, we were dropped back off at the wind farm to complete the rest of our windy walk back into the desert. We camped near some of the windmills in a field that shielded us enough from the harsh gusts. The next few days became monotonous as we went up and down, over and over and over again. We had two 15 mile water carries during some of the hottest days on trail. Luckily, this part of the trail is maintained by trail angels who set up water caches (big jugs of water) to support hikers. This was the final stretch of the desert, and I was ready to close this chapter of my hike. As we approached Kennedy Meadows, a storm rolled in and greeted us with large rain drops covering the sandy floor at the 700 mile mark. What a beautiful way to end the desert! The smell of sage and earth filled the air. We walked into town and up to the general store and heard the sounds of cow bell and clapping. It was time to celebrate the end of the beginning.

See you down the trail,


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Comments 2

  • David Bastian : Jun 10th

    So enjoying this Emma. You are doing great!


  • DWP Cheech : Jun 11th

    Emma, thank you for that wonderful description of your night hiking adventure. Thank you for the photos and for firing up something within me that wants to get back out there doing some backpacking.
    Enjoy and thanks again 🙏💪


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