Started: 08:00 @ MM 566.4 – Tehachapi, Highway 58 (Elevation 3,844ft)
Finished: 18:00 @ MM 587.4 – Camp Dustbowl (Elevation 4,689ft)
Food: Banana, Cherry Pie, Cliff Bar, Granola Bar, Tortilla w/cheese & salami, Tortilla w/PBJ, Dates, Pasta w/Broccoli, Cheese & Tuna
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 1, Days since laundry 2
Dalton picked Chance and I up from the airport at 7:30am. There was only one way to describe the morning … Fucking freezing! I am having to seriously re-evaluate my whole understanding of desert. So far on this journey I have been too cold about 90% of the time, too hot about 8% of the time and just right about 2%. It was just right in Dalton’s car and he even stopped so that I could get a coffee for the journey. I really liked Dalton!
All too soon we were at the trailhead and I had to get out of the nice warm car and go walk up a great big fucking mountain in an arctic fucking gale, carrying a 35lbs pack … I was reluctant! I eventually ran out of things to procrastinate over and had to get on with it, but not before enjoying one final big hug with Dalton.
The point at which we were getting back on trail is made famous by the book (and subsequent movie) Wild. It is this exact spot where Cheryl Strayed famously began her somewhat truncated journey on the PCT. In fact the trail register still bears witness to her passing this location. Although she skipped the first 560 odd miles of desert, setting out from Highway 58 was definitely not an easy option. The terrain was as hostile then as it is now and she would have faced the very same waterless wilderness as I now did. However, unlike Cheryl I was carrying significantly lighter equipment and had all manner of technology and devices to help me find not only my way, but also water.
As we began the long 2,000ft climb, the wind was going totally crazy. We were being beaten up by sustained winds of a good 50mph, with gusts of over 70mph! The wind was so strong that it frequently blew me off of my feet and I would stagger along like a drunk along the trail. We climbed for almost 3 hours in this craziness and when we finally passed the crest the wind suddenly stopped … just in the nick of time for elevenses!
It was good to be back on trail with Chance and all of his little idiosyncratic ways. I had quite missed our agreeable hiking alone, travelling together arrangement. I was particularly happy to be tackling this tough section with him. Water was the biggest concern. Usually it would be heat and water, but we were fortunate to have a 3-4 day window of unseasonably cold air. Although this definitely helped with water consumption, it was a trifle nippy.
The only water we would find today was 17 miles up the trail at Golden Oaks Spring. We reached the trickle of water at 3 o’clock and found a gaggle of hikers around the trough. To save carrying water to a dry camp we cooked dinner at the spring before pressing on for another few miles. Camp was a total dustbowl but thankfully sheltered from the worst of the winds. Tomorrow it would be another 20 mile march to water