Installment #13 - May 29, 1999 - Tehachapi
I've reached Tehachapi, which is the end of Section E. But let's go back a little, before Agua Dulce:
The Thursday before I reached Agua Dulce (May 20) was kind of a low point for me. I had blisters on both of my feet, so I was hurting. I took a wrong turn - missed a fork in the trail and hiked a couple of extra miles before I ended up in a forestry fire camp or something and realized that I was in the wrong place. I backtracked and probably wasted two or three miles. And then, on a steep place in the trail, I skidded a little bit - my foot went forward maybe a foot or so and it kind of wrenched my knee, and the knee kept me awake that night.
The next day, I went by a ranger station at North Fork Saddle that was supposed to have been closed, but it turned out that there was a host there, an organization called the California Trail Users Council. They had arranged with the government to open the fire station and had placed a volunteer there, who was living at the station and made it available to us. So there was water, and I got a shower, and I got my clothes cleaned, and I came out of there in a lot higher spirit.
I then tried to figure out another plan of attack, other than just going home. Going home for a couple of weeks to rest my blisters would probably mean giving up any chance of completing the trail this year, and I really didn't want to do that - I wanted an alternative.
Anyway, on Saturday morning, I arrived at Agua Dulce. I knew that Donna and Jeff Shiefley, and Walt and Pat [the Happy Trail couple], were there, and we talked about my feet and they suggested "Super Feet" shoe inserts. Donna had some phone numbers and I called and found a local place that carried Super Feet. She took all of us out to a shopping mall where we could buy sporting goods stuff, and then to an all-you-can-eat restaurant where 13 of us had an all-you-can-eat meal that night. [Yummmm!!!!!!!!]
Sunday morning, I went to a local restaurant, had a big breakfast, and headed out on the trail again. At that point, I was aiming at 16 miles a day - trying to keep my mileage down to give my feet a chance to recover.
By Wednesday, I'd come down out of the mountains and reached the Mojave Desert and arrived at Jack Fair's house (and garage) around 11AM. Jack is a colorful character - an older guy who opens his house to hikers.
I headed out around 6PM to walk the Los Angeles Aqueduct access road. It was almost a full moon. It was a different adventure, a change of pace, hiking at night. The reason, of course, was that it was so much cooler than trying to hike in the desert during the day. I hiked until a little after midnight, when I got confused and decided it was time to camp. I was getting tired and wasn't sure where the trail went. When I woke up in the morning, right beside my sleeping bag was a kangaroo rat! I'd never seen a kangaroo rat before in the wild.
That morning, I finished the desert floor and got up into the Tehachapi Mountains, and there I met Rob Bedichek at Tylerhorse Canyon, where there's a stream. Rob was just kinda hanging out in the shade, and I did the same from 11 till 5 or so. I cooked two suppers during the course of that time and had myself two full meals. I hiked up out of Tylerhorse Canyon around 5PM, hiked for another four or five miles up to a knob in the Tehachapi Mountains, and camped.
In the past, before this PCT trip, I've always used a tent. I've always been afraid that it would rain during the night or that the bugs would get me or something. So I've almost always been in a tent, where you don't see anything. On this trip, I've very often just put down a ground cloth and a sleeping bag, and I'm really loving it! And I did that up on that knob. I had a view of the Tehachapi Mountains, and there was a city down below where there were a lot of lights twinkling at me. I saw the sun set, and in the morning just before I got up I saw the moon set! I've never seen that before - I saw a full moon setting behind the mountains - really beautiful!
Friday morning, I hiked by a wind farm and stopped and talked with the guys working there and learned a little bit about wind farms. I hitched into Tehachapi, picked up my resupply package, and mailed home as much of my excess stuff as I possibly could, including my boots that I'm no longer using. I had a prime rib for supper and I'm all ready to go bright and early tomorrow morning. Carey Larson, a local Trail Angel, is going to come pick me up at the motel and take me back to the trail.
There are just so many really great people along the trail, and I'm very, very pleased. I plan to arrive at Kennedy Meadows on Saturday, June 5. My friends Dan and Jan are going to meet me there Sunday morning and drive me home. At home, I'm going to swap out my equipment for the Sierras - I'll be adding an ice axe and a bear canister. The latter is a thing that looks like a beer barrel that you put your food in [now, how would Allen know what a beer barrel looks like?]. The bear can knock it all over the place but he can't get into it.
Kennedy Meadows ends the Southern California portion of the trail. It'll be about 698 miles that I'll have covered, so I'll have less than 2000 to go. [A mere walk in the park.]
Rattlesnakes have become so common that it's no longer an event to see one along or on the trail. Lots of various types of lizards too.
I'm still really loving hiking! I'm enjoying the scenery and the change of scenery. I love the feeling of independence - I'm out there with everything I need on my back. I hike along, and when it's time to go to bed I just find a little spot and make it home. I'm really loving it! This is a great experience! And there are so many wonderful people, both along the trail as Trail Angels and on the trail - other hikers.
When I was out of the country, I left my old tape-based answering machine on the line, since it could hold more messages than the new digital one. Unfortunately, the old one limited messages to three minutes apiece, so Allen had to call six times to leave this report! Sorry, Allen - hope the phone you used at least had re-dial!
This report covers all of Section E, and as usual you can check out the Section E Map and Elevation Map.
Next report should be from Kennedy Meadows!
Added from scans of Allen's slides on June 25:
Fire Camp sign at the end of a wrong turn
A group portrait of Allen and his fellow hikers
Up close and personal with a rattlesnake
A lizard sunning hizelf on a post
A turtle-shaped lizard - fairly common
A yucca plant with a scenic background
A beautiful shot looking down on the tops of clouds
Added from scans of Allen's slides on June 28:
The Los Angeles Aqueduct
Jack Fair sitting in a Barkolounger, dining
Allen, Walt, Ron Vaughn, others in Jack Fair's garage