Our alarm went off at 4:30 because we wanted to get more miles done before the sun started roasting us. We had breakfast and quickly packed up the camp. The sun slowly started to rise as we set off and by about 7 it was already pretty warm.
The first 10 kilometers went fast and we reached the next water source at Cottonwood Creek. We didn’t, however, need any water as we had been carrying at least 4L each and so we just had a short break from the sun and a snack.
The trail then started to get more interesting – the complete flatness turned into some dirt roads and then a hilly wind park. For the next three hours we hiked inbetween the massive white wind turbines most of which were standing still as there was barely any breeze and they need at least 3km/h wind to start. After finding another big bush (yes, these are rare) we took advantage of the shadow and had a longer rest & drinking break. Ahead of us was about 500m of ascent and 7 kilometers to the next water source.
The heat of the day had arrived now and doing the uphills was really tough, especially the part of having to look at the trail just climbing ahead, up and up. Nevertheless we pushed on because a good reward was to come as we would reach the creek – a big lunch and a 3-hour daytime nap to catch up on the sleep and hide from the midday heat.
After the ascent we quickly descended about 300m down to the creek, met some other hikers who were just leaving and then saw THE TREE. This amazing tree right at the water was huge, pretty much the only one for miles – it cast a huge shadow that lasted the whole day and the ground underneath was perfectly flat. We set up our groundsheet and matrasses and sleeping bags – the outdoor bed was ready!
I filled in some water from the barely-flowing creek and then started the lunch feast: crackers, clif bar and dried fruits. And then we slept…deeply. We both agreed that that was one of the best naps we had had in a long time. Besides us there were three other guys who were waiting for the heat to pass so it was kind of like a grown-up kindergarten with all the napping.
At around 17 o’clock it was time to wake up and start packing – many more miles needed to be walked. We started off – the temperature now much more tolerable than before – and kept following the mountainside until a mountain pass after which we went down a sandy and slippery hill to the valley bed. The whole hill side was covered in purpleish pink flowers it felt like Barbie is going to appear any moment. We cought up with Amanita and shared some Skittles but then it was time to jam on once more.
Once again we started the steep uphill and at about half way up the sun finally set. It got darker and darker but it was still pretty warm. The city lights in the valley and the Moon itself made the views amazing and it was actually so bright that we didn’t need to use the headlights at all. After about two hours of constant uphill we finally reached the Trailside Paradise – a small set-up with water, apples, cookies, juice and…chairs!! But as it was technically a nighttime other people were already sleeping in their tents. We just had some juice & an apple, filled in the water and then hiked for another kilometer to the next campsite on the hilltop.
We set up camp and finally had our dinner at around 22:00 and then fell asleep. There wasn’t any wind so the night passed very calmly.
We had set the alarm to 5:30 but of course managed to push the snooze button for about 4 times until we finally woke up. Anyway – because we had had a very late dinner last night we weren’t even hungry and so decided to just pack up and go. As we set off the sun started to rise and we got to witness the pink sky turning blue, the first sunrays warming us up.
The trail was going downhill, passing inbetween the big windmills – we had entered another windfarm. This one, however, is one of the biggest wind farms in the world and played a big role in the development of windmills and the technologies around it back in the day. Besides the sunrise and endless windmills we also passed lots of blossoming flowers and lots of bunnies. What a morning!
We ended up having our breakfast after 13 kilometers, at the Willow Springs road that leads to Tehachapi. There was a picnic table there so we could sit in the warm sun and cook our porridge. We also had to make a decision here: we could hitch a ride to town from this road or continue another 8 miles of mostly uphill through the wind farm until Highway 58 – making it easier for yourself later & making the next water carry easier. Even though the midday heat was now starting to burn we opted to hike up to Hwy 58 as we would then still make it to the town in time for dinner.
After the breakfast we slowly set off, dragging our feet in the sand and heat. The wind mills cover a huge area of rolling desert hills and there were no bushes to provide shadows – the one and only that we found was about half way through. So we had a small water break and rest from the heat.
The last bit was luckily more downhill and at some point there was a big red bench right on the trail, overlooking the valley beneath. We used this moment and phone signal to try and call to some of the trail angels in Tehachapi. After a “no” and a couple of “not answerings” I finally reached Dave. He sounded so happy and energetic and instantly offered to pick us up from Hwy 58 in an hour. As we had this appointment to make we hastily started to hike on and finally the trail descended all the way to the roads. As we were approaching the highway overpass a small very cute puppy ran to Kristians snd started to lick him and jump on him. That’s how we found out that in the US truck drivers are allowed to keep pets in their truck! Something I found a bit strange but also pretty cool.
Anyway, we rushed on and made it to the agreed point about 10 minutes before Dave arrived. As expected – he was the nicest person ever. We even got a hug (remember, usually people don’t like to be near stinky hikers)! We decided we’d go to Wit’s end, which is sort of a PCT hiker hangout and the Trail Angels (TA) headquarters. There was a bunch of other hikers, enjoying the wifi and snacks and trying to figure out where to spend the night. At Wit’s end they give you information about the town and possible accommodation but can also help to find a Trail Angel that could give you a ride or host you. So as we were saying that we’d like to stay with a TA, Dave said that we can camp in his yard if we’d like…well of course, we’d love to!
So we throw our bags back into the Pod (the car is called the reentry pod because the ride is as shaky as the re-entry into the atmosphere, Dave explained) and drove a couple of blocks. When we arrived, we set our tent up in Dave’s garden, nicely shaded by a big tree. We got to do our laundry and took a shower before heading into town to visit two natural food stores. We ended up getting some super delicious smoothies and a big apple pie!
We also found out that the previous year Dave and his wife had had a bad experience hosting a hiker and so they were maybe a bit apprehensive about hosting others. I’m sorry that some hikers are not considerate of their hosts, take advantage of them, take them for granted and in general smear the reputation of us, PCT hikers.
Aaanyway, we got back and then went and had some falafels and hummus and a lentil dish from the Mediterranean restaurant. Tummies satisfied, we got back to our tent. We were still a bit tired from the messed up sleep schedule we’d been following for the past 2 days so we went to sleep pretty early. Cribbage & Hobbit texted that all four of them would arrive the next morning so we started to hatch a plan of meeting up with them the next evening. We were to take a zero day in order to resupply, rest, plan ahead and send a package to ourselves in Kennedy Meadows.
This morning we slept long – until like 8:00. We went to get breakfast at the German Bakery – a super cool German owned and themed place where we got a vegan sandwich and some really nice Vanilla Nut coffee with almond milk. We sat there for long, taking advantage of the wifi and warmth. The weather was getting colder due to cold wind from the coast – the forecast promised to bring three very windy days in a row. On our way back we also booked a table at a restaurant – for us and our tramily (Cribbage & Hobbit and Wit & Full sail).
We then got back to the house, emptied our backpacks and then headed out for our resupply. We first walked to the K-mart (not like the one in the Simpsons at all!) and bought most of our resupply but they didn’t have the dinners that Kristians liked so we continued our walk to the Walgreens and then onwards to Family Dollar. He still didn’t find his special food so we then walked to Albertsons which turned out to be awesome – should’ve started from there! After we had acquired all we needed (and of course even more) we called Dave who kindly picked us up. We organized our supplies into two sets at the parking lot: one for the four upcoming days and the other for the Kennedy Meadows resupply package.
We drove to the Post Office to pack our food in the flat-rate post boxes to send the packages. For me it went pretty smooth and I managed to get all my food in, but for Kristians it went a bit rougher. After packing and re-packing for a few times finally the only thing that didn’t fit in was tortillas. Sad, a 260 calorie extra boost for every dinner must be left out. To make matters worse he already had two bags of tortillas in his bag, guess who is gonna be getting fat. Finally after the business part of the day was done, we had a dinner to go to! Wit had also texted us that two more hikers would join us! After about an hour of relaxing in the tent we headed out to the restaurant and met up with all our trail friends. It turned out that the vegan burger served in that restaurant is to die for whereas all the meals that the omnivores ordered were not very good! We talked about all the possible hiking-related and non-related things and ultimately had a great evening. Saying goodbye was a bit sad because we’d now have a 1-day gap between us and might not see each other for a long time because Cribbage & Hobbit will take a week off at Walker’s pass me and Kristians will have some time off in Bishop and Yosemite to do some rock climbing.
After saying goodbyes we went back to our tent which was a few blocks away. We already felt pretty tired and the tummies were full so off to “bed” we went.