Elevation- 4,370 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 17 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 558.5 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, windy, 60s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- Ready to decompress
Days without shower- 0
Woke up this morning feeling fantastic. It was an incredibly windy night, and I was awoken several times out of a dead sleep by powerful wind gusts; I stayed toasty warm though.
Katana was rearing to go once again too. We started off at a nice pace, winding through the canyons and mountainsides, admiring the sun rising higher over the mountains.
After 3.5 miles we ended up at the bottom of a four mile, 2,000 foot or so climb. Not wanting to lose our momentum, or wait for the morning to possibly get warmer, CatFox and I pushed straight into the climb without a break. An hour and a half later, after a hellacious amount of switchbacks, we reached the top to find and interesting little spot set up with chairs, water, apples, and oranges. After 7.5 non stop miles, little dog and I took our first break, and propped up in one of the chairs.
We sat and snacked (on our own snacks) for a little more than an hour, before Schweppes showed up. I was too comfortable, and the day was too nice to not enjoy such a pretty spot that somebody went through the trouble to set up.
Schweppes and I sat for another half hour before Mason arrived. I was starting to get restless and informed them that I was going to hike on, but they convinced me to stay a while longer. Oh boy was I glad I stayed!
No more than 10 minutes after Mason showed up, a black pickup truck pulled up a little ways away on a dirt road that we hadn’t even seen (due to all the shrubs). An older man and woman stepped out and looked us, as well as a couple other hikers that were there, over.
After making a joking remark that we all looked hungry, the man asked loudly, “so who wants spaghetti for lunch?” I thought I was hearing things.
The couple brought out a huge pot of spaghetti, a huge pot of spaghetti sauce, and a huge bowl of some kind of delicious chunked up sausage. In nearly 600 miles, this was the first real “on trail” trail magic. As far as trail magic goes, the more unexpected, and out of the way it is, the better. It didn’t get much more random than this. Sitting on a mountain top in the middle of a barren desert, nothing but windmills in sight, thousands of feet below.
Turns out they had been surprising people on the top of this mountain for more than 15 years. They we’re incredibly kind people with a great sense of humor, and the three of us sat and talked with them for more than another hour.
Sadly, I was also incredibly irked today while hanging out with the couple that maintained this relaxing little spot. Maybe a half dozen other hikers came through while we sat with them, and I’m ashamed to say that probably more than half of them conducted themselves extremely poorly. Walking in, not saying anything to the couple (who were very obviously not hikers), looking in the pots without asking or talking to anyone, deciding not to take any, then hiking on without saying a word. One or two also took some, ate, then just walked off without a thank you, goodbye, or taking any interest in who provided this very pleasant surprise. I never saw anything like this kind of behavior on the AT from thru hikers; a testament to the completely different atmosphere and culture out here. I know trail magic is fairly uncommon on the trail out here, but I feel like gratitude in a setting such as this would come naturally.
Schweppes, Mason, and myself, all being former AT hikers noticed the behavior, and had a long chat about it after we finally said our goodbyes to the couple. Suffice it to say, all three of our asses were chapped over it.
We had a fairly uneventful 9.5 mile walk down to a road, passing more windmills, and a little Gopher Snake that I chased off the trail. Once at the road, it took us about 20 minutes to hitch a ride with a retired Korean/Native American man named Ray.
Katana walked the entire day again. We’re in between that 4 to 6 week mark, aka the window in which your body really starts to adapt to trail life. I’m feeling great, and I can tell Katana is in the same boat. Her paws are toughening up, and the sun isn’t bothering her as much, however it has been a little cooler lately.
I’ve been hiking without socks on for the last two days, interestingly enough. I only have one pair of socks with me, and recently they became so crusty that I didn’t even want to put them on. So I started hiking without any socks, and surprisingly it felt great. If it wasn’t for all the tears in my shoes, letting grit and sand into them, it would be more comfortable than hiking with socks.
Now I’m Tehachapi, relaxing in climate control, and Katana is enjoying fresh linens. We’re going to take a couple days off here and give her a good chance to rest. Her eye looks better everyday, but getting it out of that dusty wind for a day or two will hopefully give it a little healing boost.
I have no plans tomorrow, other than to eventually find a ride into the nearby town of Mojave. It’s smaller than Tehachapi, but the motels are half the price, with no pet fees. Finding rides is always fun…