Trail Miles: 444.3–558.5
I slept in until around 7 as it was a zero day. Since I normally get up around 5, 7 felt great. I got up and lazed around all day. I took another shower. I lounged around chatting with other hikers. I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s half baked ice cream. As the day grew late I wound down and got ready for bed. When you can have a zero with nothing to do, it’s a wonderful zero. Sometimes a zero is filled with chores of resupplying, showering, laundering, etc. I turned in early so I could get a good start the next day.
I woke up earlier than normal at 4:30 so I could get a good start on the 10 miles to Agua Dulce. With everything packed up I hit the trail a little before 5:30. It was still cool as I climbed up several hundred feet into the desert hills. As I neared Agua Dulce I could see Vasquez Rocks in the distance. The rocks have appeared in Star Trek, Bonanza, The A-Team, MacGyver and other Hollywood ventures. As I passed the rocks I came upon the town of Agua Dulce. I walked the road into town and was soon hailed over to the Sweetwater Cafe by a fellow hiker. I sat down and enjoyed a Monte Cristo breakfast sandwich — ham steak, blackberry jam and mascarpone cheese sandwiched between two pieces of French toast. I also had a glass of chocolate milk because it sounded so good. The sandwich was amazing and I would definitely get it again.
Finishing up my breakfast I caught the 10 AM shuttle to Hiker Heaven where some trail angels open up their property to hikers. Upon arrival I was given a tour — there was a sewing station, charging station, mailing station, showers, guest trailer with a full kitchen, tv, and WiFi, and a lot of info for various other trail related things. I put my name down on the list for an REI run so I could grab some new shoes since mine were getting to small for my feet. I then packaged up the big tent Monica and I had used along with some other odds and ends and had those shipped to Monica.
The ride to REI was me and a fellow hiker, Idaho. Upon arrival at REI I asked about my shoe, the Altra Lone Peak, in a half-size larger, but they didn’t have it in any size near what I needed. I ended up going with the Altra Timp, a trail running shoe similar to the Lone Peak but with more cushion. Leaving REI I spotted a Chick-fil-A which I had to stop at. After scarfing down a grilled chicken sandwich I grabbed two packs of Chick-fil-A sauce for the trail before Idaho and I headed back to Hiker Heaven.
Because of the fire near the trail right after Hiker Heaven there were shuttles up the trail. I took a shuttle 24 miles up the trail to Green Valley. There was another trail angel there with a place called Casa de Luna. I stopped in for a dinner of taco salad and then headed out on the trail for two miles before I camped for the night. I cowboy camped right off the trail and enjoyed the stars. Staring up into the night sky I was treated to a view of the International Space Station as it cruised through space. In the distance I could see a sea of red flashing lights which I would later learn were wind turbines. I also would hike through those turbines.
After falling asleep I was treated to two different events. First I heard some noise and saw some lights. Soon after two mountain bikes came wizzing by on the trail — something which is prohibited. The second was a little later when two voices, a guy and a girl, woke me up. I couldn’t see anything, but could hear everything they were saying. They must have stopped for a small break because I heard a lot. From what I could hear I gathered that they were naked and on LSD. They commented that they had THE best PCT experience by being on acid while night hiking. Now I’m all for the trail adage of hike your own hike (HYOH), but I’m getting tired of the drug usage on trail. There’s plenty of weed usage which is legal in California, but not on federal land, which a majority of the PCT is on federal land in national parks and forests. I’m tired of getting smacked in the face with the smell of weed smoke every time I get to a campsite with other hikers. I’ve seen hikers high on weed jumping carelessly from rock to rock, heard of others using acid, and now heard (not technically seen) for myself of hikers using acid. It’s stupid, let alone illegal. Why anyone needs a drug to enhance their experience in the already amazing outdoors is beyond me, and the harm they could do to themselves while on the drug is also a risk. One of the reasons I’m hiking the PCT is to enjoy the outdoors and all of the drug use on trail is not contributing to that enjoyment. Rant over.
Waking up I packed up camp and thought back over the events that happened the night before. I was thinking I might have dreamt everything, but upon getting back on the trail the bike treads with two distinct pairs of shoe prints on top of them confirmed I had not dreamt. I later confirmed with some fellow hikers that a guy and girl had indeed hiked naked on LSD that night. Fun stuff.
Setting off I made great time. It was a hot day, but the trail was mostly shaded and a nice cool breeze was blowing. As I hiked I thought about my trail name. Several days before in a group someone had called me the Lone Ranger since I had been hiking with Monica but was now all alone. As I hiked I kept thinking about that name. I liked it and decided I’d take it as my trail name. As I went through the day I introduced myself to other hikers as Lone Ranger.
With an uneventful day I hiked towards Bear Camp. Several miles before camp I passed the 500 mile marker where I had to stop for a photo op. After a little while I arrived at camp where I was the only person around. I enjoyed some tuna on tortillas along with Chick-fil-A sauce before I set up for the night. I had gotten into camp around 5, so I relaxed on my sleeping bag before turning into bed.
I got up around the normal time and started the 13 miles to Hikertown — a stop where someone had constructed a mock western town out of sheds and lets hikers stop in to stay the night, shower, refuel, and charge devices. They also let you sleep on a bed in the sheds for $10 a night.
I busted out the miles and arrived after four and a half hours. I was surprised to see some friend there who I thought would be up the trail. We said hi and chatted for a while. I found out that they weren’t going to be able to finish the whole trail so they were chilling for a couple of days before skipping up to the Sierra to do some trail they had been looking forward to.
Soon after arriving a group of hikers were heading out to the Neenach Cafe down the road. I hopped in the van with them and headed down to the cafe where I enjoyed a double bacon cheeseburger, a coke, and a mocha milkshake. Full of good food I headed back to Hikertown where I relaxed and rested for the rest of the day.
The next section of the trail was walking along the LA Aqueduct. It’s a flat 17 mile section, but the sun can beat down on you. A lot of hikers opt to do the section at night to avoid the heat, so that was my plan as well. I headed to bed for a short couple hours of sleep.
I woke up at 12:30 AM and ate a quick breakfast before doing my stretches and filling up on water. With my headlamp on I headed out for the aqueduct walk. The mice were out and one ran right between my legs. I learned to tap my trekking poles in their direction and they would run away from me. The wind that had been blowing all night quickly died down and I was comfortable in just my shirt and shorts. I was glad I had decided to night hike the aqueduct as adding the sun into the mix would have definitely been toasty. As the sun rose I continued walking along making great time. The aqueduct soon came to an end where I was able to fill up my water from a water spigot straight from the aqueduct.
The terrain changed into a wind farm, though the wind was nowhere to be found. The temperature was rising as I climbed towards the mountains. After climbing up for a while the trail dropped into a canyon where there were some tentsites and a little trickle of a stream. I had thought of camping there for the night, but the shade was nonexistent and I didn’t want to sit baking in the sun for the next 8 hours.
The next viable sounding campsite was in 5 miles so I set off down the trail. After several miles I started a nice 2,000 foot ascent. There was still no shade and the sun was beating down. Thankfully a cool breeze would blow from time to time as I plodded up the mountain. After way to long I could see some pop-up umbrellas in the distance. I quickened my pace in anticipation of the shade. I soon arrived at the campsite where some trail angels have a permanent setup of umbrellas, water, chairs, and some snacks. I enjoyed an orange and then a drink called a hug. I wouldn’t recommend the drink as it tasted weird. I chatted with some fellow hikers and relaxed for a bit.
The town I was going to, Tehachapi, was 9 miles down the trail. I was feeling pretty good and the normal tiredness and soreness had not set in yet. I got the idea of sleeping clean in between cotton sheets on a comfortable bed into my head and couldn’t get it out. With 31 miles behind me I set out on the last 9. The miles were downhill and I was feeling good. About 3 miles from the end the tiredness finally hit me but I pushed on as the bed was still in my mind. Arriving at the trailhead there was a trail angel waiting to shuttle hikers into Tehachapi. He said he was on his way home from work and saw some hikers coming through the wind farm so he was waiting to give us a ride. Thankful to be done I loaded my pack into his truck and waited for the other hikers behind me.
With the other hikers on board we headed into Tehachapi. From reading another hikers blog I had decided on the Best Western as the place to spend the night. They had a hiker discount, guest laundry, continental breakfast, a hot tub, and pool. Upon arrival I booked two nights so I could take a zero and headed to my room. With 40 miles hiked that day I was tired. I had hiked for 18 hours with a couple of breaks mixed in. After eating dinner and stretching I collapsed into bed where I had one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had.
Today is a zero. I had a hearty breakfast from the hotel continental breakfast and then headed out to the post office and to resupply. I’m glad I made it into town last night and get a whole day off here.
Next up is a hot and dry 130 mile section up to Kennedy Meadows. There’s a 42 mile stretch without a water source which will be interesting. At Kennedy Meadows Monica will meet up with me and I’ll take two days off. I can’t wait to see her.