0 miles in Tehachapi
The second my head hit the pillow last night I was out. I slept hard, almost as if I had only slept two hours the night before then hiked 17 miles. Oh wait. My eyes still feel a bit like someone taped them open and pointed a blowing hair dryer at them, but at least I have all day to be inside.
I go down to the hotel breakfast – FOOD! Waffle maker! Coffee! All the things! I’m intrigued at how excited I am about this standard hotel breakfast but such is life after almost 40 days on trail. I’m happy to sit around today, as usual in town. There are fruits and veggies to consume, food to sort for the next week of trail, and new shoes to try on. I walk a total of .38 miles today which just about sums it all up.
Tehachapi to Mile 587.3, 20.7 miles
This is the first time in a little while I’ve left town so early. It helps that we get a ride from Golden’s family back to trail – we are hiking by 7:30, fueled up by another night in a bed and more continental breakfast.
The first mile or so parallels the highway, then we are steadily climbing up and away from it. I’m loving the sunshine on my body. It’s not hot out yet, but I still take breaks after 3 miles, then after 6. Mostly it’s nice to have weather that allows for breaks, plus there are lots of sweet litttle sheltered, shaded campsites that make for the perfect stopping points I just can’t pass up.
As I hike, I listen to all six episodes of the podcast “Dirty John”, so the time seems to pass quickly. Definitely recommend – it’s sort of in the same vein as “Serial”. With four miles left for my day, I hit the last water source. While earlier today I thought maybe I’d left the bubble, by this afternoon I am decidedly still in a big bubble. I don’t recognize a lot of the folks I’m seeing but there are still some familiar faces. People all seem to be talking about the same campsite, so I try to filter waterquickly and head out so I don’t arrive to find all the spots taken. I hike hard from the water source, doing the 4 miles in just over an hour. Not bad, considering my pack is probably the heaviest it’s been, with 4.5 liters of water and still nearly 7 days of food.
Upon leaving the water source, the dark clouds to my left let out low rumbles of thunder. Sigh. Mentally I prepare to get rained on again which is disappointing. To my surprise, though, I hike, set up camp and eat, and am now in my tent without any rain. Tonight and tomorrow could be different, but st least for now all is dry and calm. Plus, I’m camped in a place a bit more sheltered and less exposed than the other night.
Being back out here feels like getting back on the horse after falling off. I had a terrible night and day on trail before Tehachapi, but am back out here today and things feel more positive. My body seems to know, though, that it’s going to get a couple weeks of break soon (more on that later) and feels like it’s slowing down a bit. Knees hurt, feet are tender. I’ll sleep well tonight, that I know.
Mile 587.3 to 608.9, 21.9 miles
Today I felt like a sloth attempting to hike…at least for the two bigger climbs today. And now I’m absolutely exhausted. The weather was beautiful today, much more of what I expected from the desert. Hot, clear skies, sunshine. The desert continually amazes me with the variety of terrain it has. Even today, there has been everything from cacti and sagebrush to hillsides covered in long, waving grass and groves of trees. Today, I especially love the abundance of sweet smelling purple flowers that cover hillsides.
After stopping 6 miles in to dry out some things wet from condensation last night, I pushed to 15 miles on the day before I had lunch. I was definitely on the verge of being hangry by this point, so it was sweet relief to sit in the shade and eat. The only downside of having great lunch spots is that leaving to finish my miles for the day becomes slightly harder.
That being said, the last 7 miles after lunch were most enjoyable – flat and downhill, following a creek for a bit, winding around trees and boulders. My feet are still hurting, though, for what I assume is a variety of reasons. Camp tonight is at an actual campground off of a forest service road. I’m glad it’s not a weekend because places like this can get loud and busy when it is.
This right here is my favorite time of day. We sit, we cook, we eat, happily sitting around our tents. With all of the weather we’ve had, there’s been less of this lately. When it’s raining or windy, we dive into our tents as quickly as possible, cooking from vestibules and not returning outside until the morning, if possible.