Location- Lake Isabella
Distance Traveled Today- 20.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 651.3 miles
Weather/Temp-scattered clouds 70s 80s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- fat and happy
Days without shower- 0
We began the day bright and early with a long climb that switchbacked up the mountain. It got a bit rocky in some areas, making it slow going for Katana, and as a consequence, myself.
I think all the jerky I’ve been feeding her is stopping her up. It was hours before she had her first bowl movement today. After the climb, she kinda dragged her heels, which prompted me to pick her up. We NEEDED to get into town today, so we didn’t have time to go at Katana speed. It was the first time I’ve had to carry her in nearly 150 miles.
It was another day of not what I’d call “quick” hiking, but steady hiking. We came across another long Gopher Snake stretched out across the trail, and I had to race Katana to him. I’ve seen so many Gopher snakes now, I really don’t spend much time with them. If they move quick enough off the trail, I just watch them go; or I’ll pick them up by the tail if they sit there, walk them several yards off the path, then give them a little nudge in the opposite direction.
It was a hot damn day, and is if by a miracle, around 15 miles in, while walking a desolate section of rolling hills, a single, large-ish grey cloud rolled over top of us and it began to sprinkle sweet, sweet, rain. I yelled up at the sky/rain gods, “BRING IT ON! PLEASE DON’T STOP!” As I walked along with my arms out. My rainy cloud followed me for maybe 15 minutes before it took its precious hydration elsewhere.
There wasn’t enough to collect and drink, only enough to cool my burnt, hot skin for a few minutes with cold pin pricks. The smell of petrichor now filled the air; that earthy smell that let’s you know rain is on the way, or that rain is falling on dry earth. This was the first rain I’ve seen in a desert setting on this trip, it wasn’t much, but I got to experience rain in the Mojave.
We made it over 20 miles down to a campground near a road by 6 pm, and after about an hour of laying down and talking to other hikers, Schweppes and I decided to give hitching a try.
The town we were attempting to get into was Lake Isabella, and it was 35 miles away by road. This was by far my longest hitch while hiking, ever. Being evening already, I thought we didn’t have a prayer at getting a ride.
I set myself up at the end of a good straightaway, right before a wide gravel section on the side of the road, and propped Katana up on my shoulders. It took less than ten minutes for a huge pickup truck to pull over. I was very surprised.
One of the little known aspects of hitchhiking, is that you really want to try and “click” with your driver. There is nothing worse than an awkward drive with a stranger that you’re having a hard time making conversation with. It was already in the back of my mind, that a 35 mile drive with a stranger gave you a lot of time to have plenty of awkward moments.
Color me surprised again! Even though this was the longest hitching ride, it was probably one of my favorite and most pleasant. Our driver was a middle aged man named Sam, who’d lived in the area his entire life, and owned a body shop. His family had been homesteading in the area since the mid 1800’s, and he knew everything about the history in this little chunk of California.
As we drove, he pointed out what everything around us was, its significance, and a brief history of it. You could tell he was very proud to be from here, and his interest, as well as enthusiasm was contagious.
After Burger King, and groceries at a new supermarket called “Von’s” (another new favorite), we checked in at the 1950s style “Lake Isabella Motel.” The rooms were still in their 1950s layout, with a “cooler” air conditioning system. I’d never seen, nor heard of these “coolers,” but I liked them way better than air conditioners!
I plan to get back to the trail and hike tomorrow. It’s supposed to get close to 100 degrees, so I only have plans of hiking in the evening.
Go to my book, “Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail”.