Month: June 2016

PCT mm 664.4 – Away from the fire


Smoke still fills the next valley to the south of me.


I did not sleep well last night for waking up to look for smoke.  It’s hard to sleep when you know a wildfire is so close.  From about 11 to 2 am the smoke was very thick and had that “doused fire” smell.  I knew they were actively working the fire but had no idea if it was under or out of control.

Either way, I tried to sleep in a little, but I probably got less that four hours of sleep.  I got moving about six o’clock and made the campground by the highway by 9:30.  There was plenty of water there so I did not have to trek to the spring.  Most of the crew I was with yesterday made it all the way here last night and hitched into town.  I had taken enough food to skip this town and go all the way to Kennedy Meadows, so after cameling up and a snack, I set off to hike up out of Walker pass.  It was more desert terrain and a 2000 ft climb.  The wind was not strong, so it was a hot climb up.  I stopped twice for water.

There is still smoke in several of the valleys, but I am away from it now.

Once at the top, I had my pick of campsites over the next few miles.  I wanted to go another mile or two since it was barely after 12 and the breeze had picked up a bit to keep things cool.  As I sat to drink water, I noticed I was almost dozing off.  It was time to find the next shade tree to stop.  There was one a mile away that I was headed for, but only a quarter mile further I found a suitable one.  I didn’t bother to cook, I just laid out my mat and tried to sleep.  The usual sun movement had me waking up every 30 or 45 minutes, so it was not a peaceful nap.  I ended up cooking rice and heading out at 5.  It started out hot, but a breeze finally kicked in and cooled things off.

This gate has a complicated latching mechanism. Fancy for the backwoods.

The terrain to the east is nothing but barren desert.

A few hours later I passed two hikers who had made camp for the night.  Apparently the fire just got the attention of the PCTA and they just issued a closure order from Tehachapi to Walker pass.  The last four days of my hike were now closed and I am about to get overrun with hikers skipping ahead.  Oh well.

When the sun gets lower, the vistas get better.

It turns out this fire is a pretty bad one.  It has grown to nearly 20,000 acres, and they have six planes and seven choppers working it.  It has already taken 100 structures and 150 more are in danger.

PCT mm 643.7 – Wildfire!


A wildfire started in the afternoon during my siesta and I was unsure which direction to head to escape it.


Today was a little different.  It started the same as most of the others.  A pre dawn wakeup, followed by a quick and cold breakfast, and then go hike.  I liked my little one person spot on the side of the mountain last night.  About a half mile up the trail I ran across Breadstick who was packing up and he asked where I camped, I described it and he said he almost stopped there.  Lucky me he didn’t.

Views like this are why I hike in the early morning before sunrise.

It was eight or so miles to the water cache.  It was quite breezy so I was using my trekking poles and not the umbrella.  But it was starting to warm up by the time we hit the cache.  It was also less breezy.

Early morning hiking is still cool and shady as the mountains block the sun until mid morning.

The water cache was awesome.  The caretaker was actually there restocking it when I arrived so I got a chance to talk to him.  He had over 100 gallons of water there, a box full of snacks like peanut butter, tortillas, pop tarts, granola bars.  He also had a solar charger, batteries, charging cables, duct tape, all sorts of things to borrow.  He had little signs all over the place explaining everything.  Quite the spread.  It’s 21 miles to next water and I planned to camp, so I needed to head out with six liters.  Water sure is heavy.  I look forward to the territory where I only need to carry two.

An unusual style in areas where motorcycles are a common problem.

I hiked three or four miles to my siesta point.  I found nice short trees thinking I’d have to move less as the sun moved, but that was not the case.  I ended up moving three times.  I was able to doze off in small spells, though.  I have not been getting enough sleep racing across the desert.

Another day in paradise. Hot paradise.

About 4:30 I awoke to the smell of smoke.  That’s never a good sign in southern California.  I packed quickly and got moving so I could get to a high point and see where the smoke was coming from.  I did not like what I saw.  Smoke was everywhere and getting quite thick.  The wind was blowing 25-30 mph and the smoke was spreading to every canyon.  It seemed to be a little thicker from where I came, so I decided to move forward.

I awoke to thick smoke in every direction.

After about an hour, the smoke was still getting thicker with no clear indication of the source.  I could see a cell tower so I tried the phone and was able to get data.  I looked up the incident page on the forest service website and found the fire that was near me.  It was just south of lake Isabella to the southwest and I was hiking northeast so that was a good move to keep going forward.  At 6 PM it was a 1500 acre fire and they were going to be evacuating residences.

I hiked another few hours and the smoke seemed to clear in the immediate area, but in the distance everything was still thick.

A recheck of the incident page said that the fire had grown to 2500 acres and they had started to post some pictures.  They also closed part of the highway and evacuated four or five towns on that road.  That’s the road at Walker pass, my next destination.  The towns to the left of the pass are all affected, but the towns to the east are still open.  It looks like I have gone far enough North that I am no longer in one of the canyons downwind of the fire.

I decided to make camp as planned, about eight or nine miles from the next water and the highway. As I was cooking dinner, another hiker arrived and started asking about the fire.  She was also awakened from her siesta by the smoke only a few hundred yards from where I was.

During dinner, we noticed that we can actually see a red glow in the direction of the fire.  They are actively dumping water on it and each time they do, it makes a huge smoke and steam plume that reflects the glow of the fire.  It’s kind of creepy and kind of cool at the same time.  I know the fire is twenty miles away, but it looks like it is only two miles away.  If I had not read the incident report and only saw the glow, I would be heading on to get out of here, but I need the sleep badly.  I can see it from my tent so I will be keeping an eye on it all night long.

PCT mm 621.0 – Trees go bye bye


I knew I should not have gotten so excited about the trees yesterday and today.  They end tomorrow.  I woke up fairly early and got going at 5:45 with only six miles or so to the spring.  I only ate one bagel and intended to eat the other while loading up on water at the spring.  I never did eat the second one.

There is always a great view on the PCT.

Another milestone today as I passed the 600 mile point.

The spring was nice.  It had a very good flow of about 4 liters per minute.  I only had seven miles to the next water, so I did no need very much.  I think I took 3 liters.  Over the last four days or so, I had not seen a single hiker.  Not today.  I think I saw eight new hikers and one repeat from a few days ago.

The hike through both springs was nice.  Mostly shaded by large ponderosa pines and a few oaks here and there.  When I got to the second spring, I was amazed.  It had a pipe flowing well over twenty liters per minute.  And it was ice cold.  It drained into a split barrel trough.  I think during the noon to five siesta, I drank four liters just right then and there.  And there was lots of shade via tall ponderosa pines.  The problem with tall trees, though, is that their shade moves on the around quite quickly so I had to move around a lot.

I ate and snacked on anything I could get my hands onto.  Day two of summer sausage and cheddar pitas.  I don’t have alot of variety of food on this stretch, so it’s getting a little boring.

Markers like these line the PCT every five miles or so.

Most of the folks headed out around fiveish, me included.  It was a little warm when I left at 5:30 but the umbrella helped.  Not a mile past the spring, we went through a burn area, so there were very few trees.  And as we descended off the mountain to the next pass it turned to desert again.  Boooo.

Just before dark, we hit a water cache at a road and two thirds of the crew congregated there again.  I had developed a headache after leaving the spring.  I am certain it was not dehydration and suspected it was MSG.  I dug out the label of the local brand of nacho chips (Tacquis) I had finished off at lunch and sure enough, MSG was about the tenth ingredient.

I was not feeling very gung ho with the headache and not energized.  I saw another hiker making coffee and thought I might give that a try since I had been carrying coffee since Mexico and had not made any yet.  One Bustello pouch in a cup of water with a teaspoon of honey and that did the trick.  Tasted good and gave me a little more motivation to keep going now that it was full darkness.

Never a shortage of sunsets on the PCT.

I hiked until about 11:15 PM so that I could be a perfect striking distance to an area that the Guthooks app’s pictures showed had trees and shade.  I found a nice little level spot under a pinion pine that was big enuf for me but not big enuf for the tent.  So I laid out the tyvek tarp and the pad and sleeping bag and slept right under the stars.  I hung all the food bags in the trees and slept really well all night.  My first night on this trip cowboy camping and I liked it.  There might be more of that coming….

PCT mm 597.6 – The desert is waning


Yes, I walked through more wind farms today, but hallelujah there are trees.  I woke up very early as planned and headed out just before 5 am.  I was able to sit on a rock outside my tent to eat my cold everything bagel with cream cheese.  These bagels are not nearly as good as the oat ones I got in Agua Dulce last resupply.  I also discovered that the coconut oil leaked again and doused nearly everything in the bag.  I guess coconut oil is just not meant for hiking unless you have a really good container to keep it in.

The first eight miles to the spring went pretty quickly.  It took an hour to fill six bottles and eat my other bagel.  Next water is twenty miles and I doubt I have a 28 in me today.  I’ll probably camp a few miles short and make a morning spring run like today.  Both people and animals frequent Springs, so I tend to shy away from camping near them when possible.

The morning before and after the spring consisted of wind farm after wind farm again, but smaller than the ones of the previous few days.  At one break I counted 56 turbines in one field and 10 of them were not working.  A failure rate of almost 20% seems high to me.

It started getting warm around noon and the campsite I was going for that said it had great shade was still two hours away.  About 1:30 I finally found something suitable and stopped early.  I did not get too hot, but I got hotter than I wanted to and went through more water than I wanted to.  I added some electrolytes to a liter just to make sure.  I ate and napped there until 5:30 and then headed out again.  When I got to the campsite I was headed for, it did have better shade and more shade from oaks instead of pines.  Every time I nap under a pine, something gets sap on it.  This time it was my pants and a tiny bit on my shirt.

I had charged my phone last night from the battery and had the battery charging on the pack while I walked.  I don’t think it charged much while walking, but during siesta, I set it out in the sun and it fully charged the battery, so I think I might have a workable system for the remote areas now.

When I set out again, I was tired and sluggish.  I was using the umbrella, but it wasn’t so hot that I felt in really needed it, so I put the umbrella away and got out the poles.  I must admit that my pace seems to pick up a bit when using the poles.  I think I will start using them in the mornings and evenings when I don’t need the umbrella.  I tried the umbrella and one pole thing this morning and I didn’t like it.  I think it’s one or the other.

I only have 4.5 miles to go to the spring, but I got tired and it was after 7:30 so I stopped to camp at a gap which is quite windy.  I hope the wind dies down a little so I can get some good sleep.  I can tell I did not get enough last night.  You need plenty of food and sleep to hike well.  I’ll try stopping early and not starting so early tomorrow to see if that gives me more energy.  I’ll also try to take my siesta a little earlier, too.

PCT mm 575.1 – A day of driving


Today was an inverted nearo.  I rented a car at 8 am and drove all day, returned the car, and got dropped off at the trail at 5 PM, but sat in the shade of a gully wall for an hour before I took off.  It was a scorcher today.

I had two errands to run with the car, look for my glasses and go to REI in Rancho Cucamonga.  Luckily they were both in the same direction.  I decided to take the route out of town that hugged the mountains but was still in the desert.  It went through small towns all along the way, but first stop was Mojave.  This is the town where Dick and Burt Rutan built all sorts of crazy airplanes like Spaceship One and the only plane to fly around the world without refueling.  The guy who gave me a ride into town yesterday worked there.  Passing through Mojave at 9am it was already 102 degrees.  Palmdale was the other notable town the rout went through which was also a big aircraft town, but not much to see just driving through it.

Driving back to Cajon pass to look for my sunglasses.

Once I got near Cajon pass, I found the canyon road pretty easily.  The way point I had marked from Google maps apparently has an old route for the PCT because it had me about two miles from where I needed to be.  I whipped out one of my hiking apps and quickly found the right spot.  The temperature was 102, but with the umbrella it was not too bad.

Everything was as I remembered it.  If I was lucky, I would only have to hike one mile to my first resting spot.

I got there in twenty minutes and searched for ten.  No glasses.  I then came back to the water cache and looked high and low.  No glasses.  I then decided to hike a half mile in the other indirection to where there was a trail register.  No glasses.  After an hour and a half in the desert, still no glasses.  It must have been the second spot that I went back and checked the night I lost them but for some reason could not find them.  Or perhaps someone did pick them up.  I took pictures of the register at the water cache just for my records.

I have embraced the “Dirty” but still clinging onto the full “Gilligan” at this point.

Back in the car and off to Rancho Chupacabra.  I found the REI quickly, but was hungry so I went to eat at a Pacific island grocery that had a deli.  I ate some sort of rice noodles.  This is the third dining faux pas.  First beans and Mac n cheese, now fancy ramen.  It was better than grocery store ramen.

On to REI.  First up pants.  My pants are getting loose and have an adjuster but it slips and I wanted to see how the next size down fit.  Too tight.  Next up – ice axe.  I checked my size and it looks like 55 or 60 will do for me.  But I just couldn’t pull the trigger on $100 I might need only once.  I decided to forgo the axe and get poles instead.  They had an REI branded folding carbon poles half price.  Deal.  Last up – solar charger.  I’m about to get into more remote areas and the phone eats about 20% per day even on airplane mode and the battery backup has worked once, but one time was already out of juice.  I think k it’s worth the piece of mind to charge the phone from the battery each night and charge the battery from solar power each day.  Done.  When I get back to the car, it’s already 116 degrees.  Sheesh, I need to get back to the mountains.

On the drive back, I decide to take the bigger roads that go through the middle of the Mojave desert to see what’s there.  Nothing is there, not even passing zones.  Playing dodgeball with trucks is not fun.  The poor little Nissan versa can hardly keep the car cool even with the AC on full blast.  It’s hot, like 115 hot.

I get back to town at 3:30, so that gives me thirty minutes to fill up the car with gas, eat, and hit the post office.  I grab a burrito at Del Taco (again with the foods I make on trail), I hit the gas station.  The car was on fumes and still only took 9 gallons.  I made a beeline for the post office and there was quite a line.  It only took 15 mins and then I was off to the rental agency.  I got there at 4:20 and they had time to buzz me out to the trail.

I had 17 miles to next water, so I loaded up with five liters.  It was mostly climbing for six miles to the first good camping.  I ran across an interesting campsite that used dead Joshua tree logs as a windbreak.  These logs end up being like balsa wood, but if you stack enough of them, they do make a good wind break.  I wonder if this counts as an established campsite or not?  I went a little further before making camp for the night.

An improved campsite with a really solid wind break.

Once it turned dark, the views back towards Mojave were quite impressive.  The silhouette of wind turbines against a reddening sky is a neat experience.  Even though it is hard, the desert is still beautiful.

Wind turbines are everywhere between Tehachapi and Mojave.

PCT mm 566.4 – Wind power is clean energy?


These large turbines must have significant gearing and generators in them that require quite a bit of lubrication.


A short 8 mile day today just to get to town.  I was out at 5:45 and at the road just after 9:30.  I saw a runner going up as I was going down and there was a truck at the bottom of the mountain, so I was hoping to be able to get a ride to town with him as long as he wasn’t going farther than I thought and take too long to get back to his truck.  I stopped at the road to check the bus schedule and get rocks out of my shoes when he came by.  As luck would have it, I was right and he was going right by where I needed to go so I scored the easiest hitch of the trip so far.

The final mile to the highway between Tehachapi and Mojave.

The entire eight miles was through the major part of the same wind farm as yesterday.  This is the birthplace of wind power.  The display they had was pretty informative.  The current models supply 10mw of power each (might have been 3mw).  There was a whole row of these big GE ones spewing grease out the back of them.  I imagine they have serious gear reduction and need alot of lubrication to keep them from burning up.  Clean energy, huh.  There must have been ten different models of turbines in just this one field.  The older ones looked like toys compared to the modern ones.  This farm started in 1980.

Entering a newer section of one of the oldest wind farms in the world.

The temperatures were pretty warm for that early in the day once I got to the backside of the mountain and the wind died down.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the biggest day of the heat wave so I’m not looking forward to the next week.  This is the last 135 miles of desert before I hit the Sierras at Kennedy pass.

I used my Marriott points to stay at the Fairfield Inn for free tonight (yay points) and spent the afternoon doing errands.  First up was visiting the Big5 sports in town.  I was able to find some nice Saucony shoes on sale for $40 that are pretty comfy.  Had to go with size 13 shoes.  A fresh fuel canister and two pairs of socks and I’m set other than snow gear.  I have microspikes in the box at Kennedy Meadows, but the snow is still deep enough that I will also need either poles or an ice axe to be safe.  Looks like I will have to rent a car tomorrow and hit an REI to get the last goods.  I can also make a trip back to Cajon pass to try to look for my sunglasses.

Now I is time for dinner at the local BBQ joint run by a native American who has teepees out back that he will actually let hikers stay in if they ask nicely.  People rave about it and I imagine it might be the only decent BBQ I will find on the entire trail.  My major mistake was in ordering beans as a side dish.  Beans?  Aren’t I sick of beans yet?  Apparently not.  Something green (green beans) would have been a better choice.

PCT mm 558.2 – Wind power


The wind farm south of Tehachapi, CA


I got a little bit of a late start since I don’t intend on going into town until tomorrow.  I am camped out right at a road that leads into town, though, so it would be very easy o change my mind.

Waking up to a nice sunrise with the sound of city buses on sticks in the mountains. A wind turbine sounds like a city bus when you are this close to them.

I saw a few other hikers pass by as I was packing, which is unusual.  Usually I am the early one passing others.  Two of them were a couple that hiked all night long and were just then stopping to camp for the day.  I don’t mind hiking a few hours into the night, but all night long is just grueling.  My blog entry last night was brief mainly because I was tired and falling asleep while I was writing it.  And I hadn’t even taken a sleep aid or anything.  It was only 11:00.

There was the first stream in a long time just 2 miles after where I camped and I filled up all bottles.  It will be 20 miles and one night of camping before the next water. As I am filling up, however, I hear there might be a water and food cache at a campsite 8 miles or so ahead. Hmmm.  Better not plan on it.

The 8 miles to get to the campsite was a climb out of the canyon with water, over a ridges, then down the next canyon without water then up to the next ridge again.  It was alot of switchbacks and it’s more depressing when you can see them all from the other side of the canyon.  Like any other hike, it goes by pretty quickly if you just plod along.  I was playing leapfrog with three other hikers on that section.

Once we got to the campsite, it was pretty swank.  They had tons of water, apples, oranges, cookies chairs, and an umbrella.

The other hikers were already there, and enjoying the spoils.  I had an apple and an orange and boy was it good.  Oranges rock while hiking.

Food and Water in a former Pinon pine grove destroyed by wildfires a few years ago.

While we were there, some motorcycles came by and they knew they were not supposed to be on the PCT.  They detoured, then minutes later a truck came by asking about them.  Not long afterwards the motorcycles came back and words were exchanged.  They claimed they were lost but never asked how to get out.  Said they had permits but never showed them.  And they tore up the trail pretty good so the next few miles were difficult hiking.  Jackwagons.

I also learned today that the c actus trees I sought shade in yesterday are Joshua trees.  They are very cool.  Part tree, part cactus.


I went only a mile further to a patch of pines where I took my siesta.  I was there from about 12:30 to 4:00 just snoozing and eating.  Post siesta, the trail hit a second wind farm.  I thought the one yesterday was big, but this one is easily four times larger.  In fact, there are three turbines directly over the campsite.

Tomorrow is a short 8 miles to the other road into Tehachapi and there is a wind farm exhibit I am actually looking forward to.  I have good signal here, but hear the cell signal at the other road is poor, so I will have to exercise my thumb a bit.  It’s ten miles to town, and I do not want to walk that.

PCT mm 540.3 – The LA aqueduct


Walking along the open section of the Los Angeles aqueduct.

I woke up at 6, but the first shuttle to the store did not leave until 7, so I started packing and filling water bottles to get ready.  Everything was ready to go by seven.  So after hopping to the store to get a breakfast burrito and a few snacks, which included two bottles of squirt, I was headed out by eight.  I don’t know why I love grapefruit sods so much, but I do.

Buying the soda was another tactic just to get another bottle since there is a hot 24 mile water carry coming up and I needed one more bottle.

The smart thing to do would have been lounge around Hiker Town all morning and afternoon and set out at 5 or 6 PM.  But I was itching to get an early start and then find some shade to hunker down for siesta.

Leaving Hikertown the trail hugs property lines for about a mile.

The trail started along a field for a mile, then the open aqueduct for Los Angeles for about a mile, then the aqueduct turned into a giant pipe and headed straight uphill for about three miles.  Most hikers actually walk on top of the riveted pipe.  You can see mineral deposits all over the joints that leak and a million welded patches.  Then it turned into a concrete covered channel for a million miles.  Well, maybe not a million, but well over ten.  It was easy hiking on the concrete lid and would have been easy by moonlight.

Half of the time I hiked on top of the pipe, and half the time on the path next to it. The horizon is about three miles away.  I hope that buzzard is not expecting me to drop dead.

An odd place to stop for a break, but the recliner looks so inviting.

Eventually the pipe turned to a concrete culvert with a concrete lid that looks like a road.

Even though I set out at 8 o’clock, the heat of the day was already present.  I decided to wear the shorts since it would essentially be a road walk with very few weeds and I wanted to be cool.  A nice breeze and the umbrella kept things comfy until about noon, when the breeze died down quite a bit.  I found one of these crazy cactus trees [Joshua trees] to get some shade under, but had to move several times as the sun shifted.  Without the breeze, it was quite hot.  I also noticed when I set out again, that my legs were slightly sunburned so I lathered them up with sunscreen.

Trying to get some shade among the Joshua trees to escape the heat of the sun.

I ate and stayed put until 4:30 when I decided I had enough and set out into the heat.  It wasn’t too bad and the aqueduct gave way to a wind farm.  Now it was the wind farms turn to go on forever.  You can see them easily way off into the distance, but they never seem to get any closer.  It was well over an hour before I felt that I was actually getting nearer.  There must have been three hundred of them and the field never ended.

Wind turbines appear on the horizon.

The only shade structure I ever encountered on the entire desert hike. If I could only have made it this far before stopping for Siesta.

It was well after dark before I finally passed the last one and was officially back into the hills again.  I found a decent campsite two miles from the only water source for the next two days and still within earshot of the wind farm.  Those things make a lot more noise than you would think.  It sounds like I’m near a highway.

Finally getting close to the windmills. They make a tremendous amount of noise this close up.

Hiking into the sunset among the wind turbines.

I only have 26 miles to Tehachapi and don’t want to get there until Sunday, so even though hiking at night in the cool breeze is fantastic, there’s no reason to hike late into the night.  I will get up not too early but be out by six and do ten in the am and ten in the PM, to put me only six miles from town.  That would be good, as I have a lot to do while in town.  I am planning on taking Monday off since it is the peak of the heatwave.

PCT mm 517.6 – Roads, roads, roads


Beautiful sunset along the road walk leading into Hikertown.

Today started with some relatively easy and slightly bland hiking, then got worse.  It started as a normal 12.9 mile morning on typical high desert canyon with a few more scrubby shade trees than normal.  The grade was pretty even all the way to the fire station where I stopped to make some burritos before hitting the road walk.

Nice morning hiking in the shadows with nice views.

A worn out shovel put back into service as a sign post.

The fascinating bright red bark of the Manzanita tree.

Yes, more road walks.  This one another fire closure.  I thought the road walk was just 16 miles, but it turns out that’s just to the intersection where you get a choice to go north or west.  The road walk ended up being a full 20 miles, so today was right at 33 miles.  Uggg.

The couple from Australia hiking in front of me on the way to the Rock Inn Restaurant.

This once used to be a large lake with a park next to it. Now it is completely dry.

I frequently would take accidental pictures while putting my camera back into my pocket. This one was interesting enough to save.

The good part is that 6 miles in there is a good restaurant to eat at and a convenience store if needed.  I ate with a couple from Australia that I met just before the fire station.  I did not leave the restaurant until 3:30.  After the first three miles or so after the restaurant, it turns to park land again, so you could stealth camp if you wanted to.  It was still early so I wanted to keep going.  I was pretty sure I could not make Hikertown hostel before dark, but I knew it would be close.  After eight miles from the restaurant it was all private property again and posted signs all over the place.  At that point I had gone past the point of no return.

At the 16 mile intersection, I could go left to the trail early, or go straight and hit Hikertown and be only a tenth from the trail.  I elected for Hikertown because it looked shorter there than the trail to the left and.

The sun was starting to set but I still had light.  I made the last turn with only one mile to go and the sun was behind the mountains now, but I had enough light to hike without a headlamp.  I made it to Hikertown at about 8:30 and boy was I beat.  I got a trailer to sleep in and a shower and made some rice to eat.

Hikertown is the most interesting place to visit. It’s a peculiar mix of discarded buildings, trailers, and campers. The permanent structures all have a theme to them to mimic a small western town.

The next section of trail is more roads then the Los Angeles aqueduct.  It’s a long straight hike with no shade and nowhere to camp.  I’d like to do it in one shot tomorrow, but know I won’t be able to leave too early.  But I’m still racing an upcoming heat wave, so I can’t take a day off just yet.  I might be hiking more at night, just not tonight.  [Post hike:  I found out that Robin left here about three hours before I arrived  This is the closest I ever got to him after losing my sunglasses.]

PCT mm 465.9 – Beam me up Scotty


The famous Gorn rocks in Vasquez Rocks Natural Area from the TV series, Star Trek.

This is not the usual landscapes I post, so what’s up with this pic?  You’ll find out later.

I didn’t get up too early this am, mainly because the clouds had rolled in and I was in the middle of them all night long.  I woke up about 11:30 and found the outside of the sleeping bag wet.  I was surrounded by a cloud and slowly getting damp from the dew.  There wasn’t much I could do, putting the fly on would just get it wet too, and it would take too long to get anywhere low enough to be out o the clouds.  I just rode it out and slept a little later to let it get a little brighter.

So when I did roll out at 5:30, I run across another hiker just 200 yds down the trail sacked out cowboy style – no tent, just a sleeping bag laid out on a sheet of tyvek.  He was soaked, too.

The clouds lasted most of the morning, but started to lift a little as I got to Vasquez rocks.  It’s a really neat place.  it’s an entire valley with rocks made out of other rocks.  The layers and stratification would keep a geologist busy for decades. I must have taken 30 pictures.  It’s definitely a place to come back to.

But getting there is interesting, too.  You pass through a very long tunnel under the interstate, which must be 80 feet above.  The tunnel is so long, you have to use your headlamp after entering about 30 feet or you will trip over debris and rocks on the floor.  Even though you can see the other side, it’s really dark in there and you can’t see crap.


Once you pass under the interstate, you are entering Vasquez Rocks Natural Area.

The canyons entering Vasquez Park.

The rock formations are all over the place as far as the eye can see.

Approaching the town of Agua Dulce off in the distance.

Once I got to the actual park itself, the rock I was looking for was quite easy to spot.  Many TV shows and movies have been filmed here, but the most famous is Star Trek where Captain Kirk fights a Gorn.  It felt really weird and eerie being there and imagining a film crew there.  Google Kirk vs Gorn to see a pic.  WordPress won’t let me attach one here.  [Post hike: I can post it after the fact pretty easliy 🙂 ]

Famous scene from the 1966 episode “The Arena” of the original Star Trek series.

I got in to Agua Dulce about 9:30 and went straight to the breakfast house – the Sweetwater Bar and Grill.  The Barbacoa beef burrito was heavenly and so was the fresh picante salsa to go with it.  That’s not just hiker hunger talking, it really was that good.  [Post hike:  Still the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had in my entire life.]

I waited for the shuttle to Hiker Heaven, the local hostel.  I was there about 20 minutes when a man drove by in a gator and said the shuttle was not regular, just come over to the hardware store and have some free coffee and donuts.  So I sat there for nearly two hours shooting the shit with the men’s gossip league.  There were some interesting conversations, let me tell you.  I made a stop at the market to resupply in that time and then the guy in the gator finally just drove me to the hostel.  It was a mile away and I could have walked it in 20 minutes, but I had fun with the old timers as they gossiped about everyone who walked into the restaurant.

Once I got to Hiker Heaven, it was an operation, let me tell you.  The intro took 10 minutes.  They are extremely efficient at hosting very large numbers of people in an organized fashion.

I grabbed a laundry sack and towel and made a beeline to the shower.  It always feels good to be clean.  When you sweat a whole bunch, four days without one drives you nuts.  I can’t bathe every day like I could on the AT because I am dry camping where I have to carry every drop of water and it all goes to drinking.  Even dishwater from cleaning my cooking pot goes down the gullet (no soap).

I gathered all my laundry after the shower and put it in the bag and labelled it as instructed.  Then I grabbed a pan and Epsom salt and soaked my feet.  It was the first opportunity I have had to do that and it felt good.  I had some old callused skin that I wiped and picked off.  No serious blisters at this point.

It took a while for laundry, so I was able to recharge the electronics, check out the water report for the next hundred miles or so, and do some other chores.  I called the hardware store in wrightwood to see if anyone turned in my glasses but no luck.

I got a ride back to town as soon as laundry was done and I was packed.  I got dropped off at the pizza joint to have lunch on the way out.  A large pepperoni pizza and two slices packed out for dinner it a great way to leave a town.

I made it out at 3:30 and the clouds had broken, but there was a cool breeze, so I did not even use the umbrella.  More clouds rolled in later, but it should be a fairly clear night.  I wanted to make it at least ten miles out of town because I have another road walk due to fire closure tomorrow.  This one is 14 miles but has a restaurant in the middle of the walk.

Leaving civilization after about two miles along roads and I am rewarded with another great desert sunset.

I did not stay in town because I am trying to outrun another heat wave that hits on Monday.  In Agua Dulce it is supposed to get to 108, but the town I am going to be at on that day is supposed to be only 98.  I just want to get as far across the desert as I can before the weekend.  It is almost full moon, so if night hiking is needed, that will help.