11.3 miles (Miles 547.2 – 558.5)
PCT Mile 547.2 – Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road
It’s Tears’ birthday today! It was tricky to plan something since we were going to be on the trail, especially since it fell on the end of a four-day section. Aloha helped me get the cupcakes and can of Coke when she wasn’t looking. I kept them in the bottom of my food bag in a paper bag. At one point, she even asked me what was in the paper bag, to which I replied, “just some garbage,” and quickly changed the subject. It was far from garbage!
So this morning just after we made our coffee, I broke out my two birthday candles and the cupcakes (which were smashed in true thru-hiker fashion) and sang a very little bit of the happy birthday song – I do so much better with that song in a room of people singing in all different keys! Anyway, she seemed surprised and enjoyed the morning chocolate. I think we agreed that everyone needs cake for breakfast on their birthday. Why wait all day until after dinner? Silliness. It’s now a new rule that we must all follow.
We started hiking uphill, and it didn’t take long for the desert temperature to climb right along with us. Thankfully, the actual climb was over and the rest of the day’s route was bringing us downhill toward a road. The trail surface was predominantly sand, which is so hard to hike on and makes all kinds of new tweaks and aches and pains appear. Nothing serious, though. I’m pretty sure sand is made for laying on… like on a beach.
We came to a water cache a couple miles from our camp. I didn’t even let it enter my mind, considering the luck we’ve had with caches, so I was actually a little surprised when we came upon it. I have this crazy ability to convince myself of things like this. “There’s no more water. There’s nothing to rely on.” Go figure, too. This one had bottles of water. I didn’t really need any, but I took one small bottle to chug on my next break. It was more of a luxury, but a dang good one.
After a hot, sandy trek winding through more windmills and past patches of Joshua trees, we finally got to the trailhead where we were meeting Aloha. He’d just left to bring some hikers into town, but Coppertone was there with his camper. His trail name is Coppertone because he has no tan lines… I don’t think I need to explain that! ;)
Anyway, he thru-hiked the PCT in 2006 and is out here providing trail magic. Root-beer-float-style trail magic! It’s pretty awesome. Unfortunately we showed up after he’d run out of ingredients. But we did enjoy the shade, chairs and cold Gatorade!
Aloha came and picked us up and brought us to the town of Mojave where we had a hotel for the night. We showered and made our way to the next town over for pizza, per Tears’ birthday request. It was the town of Tehachapi. When I was researching this trail, this name always threw me. I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce it. The way you say it is: Tuh-hatch-a-pee. Now you know more than I did going into this hike. Oh, and while we’re at it, the Mojave is not flat, and it’s hotter than you’d think… ;-)
After pizza we did resupply shopping, then head back to the hotel. I finished the night off with some spumoni ice cream and cheetos. It was a good desert dessert.
Tomorrow we stock up on a 93-mile supply of food and an 8-mile supply of water and throw ourselves back into the desert. Two more stretches before we reach the gateway to the Sierras. I’m going to miss this desert. I really am. I tend to really love anything that challenges me. Southern California has grown on me, and I have a ton of respect for it’s wilderness.
Today there was this one whispy cloud that lightly hid the sun for a few minutes as we hiked past a giant wind turbine. Tonight I love that cloud for it’s short but gentle break from the beautiful blazing sun.