Location- Ridge of mountain
Elevation- 6,519 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 5.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 656.8 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 90s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 0
Today, the last day of May, was HOT. I had zero intentions of getting back to the trailhead anytime before 4 pm. In fact, I would have welcomed a failed hitchhiking attempt as an excuse to stay another day.
I spent the morning and afternoon eating, swimming, and sitting in the shade. As it grew later, and 4pm started to roll around, I felt the itch to get back to the trail. Schweppes decided the day was already lost and made the choice to stay in town again. Having Katana, I couldn’t do this. If I took a zero today, then the next day would be almost a zero too. With the current heat wave, I know I can’t hike during the day with her. If I didn’t hike tonight, then I’d have to wait until tomorrow night before I had the time and temperatures to do anything. Sure I could have promised myself to get up super early and try to get back to the trail head tomorrow morning and hike, but who am I kidding? If I’m in town, I’m sleeping in and getting breakfast.
So Schweppes settled in for another night, and I trudged down to the base of an overpass to try my luck hitching. I secretly hoped no one would stop, and I’d have a legitimate excuse to be stuck/stay there, but low and behold a woman in a van pulled over after about 5 mins with my thumb out. Katana’s cuteness was strong today.
The woman said she would give me a ride, but was only going about 20 miles down the road, and that I’d have to hitch again from a little town of around 400 individuals called “Onyx.” I said “sounds good to me!”
Although we introduced ourselves, I cannot remember the woman’s name. I don’t think I even heard her right when she told me. Regardless, it was a pleasant drive, and I reverted to my hitchhiking conversation technique that keeps the atmosphere cheery and loquacious; I kept the topic of conversation on them. People love to talk about themselves, especially when someone else is asking, so that’s how I keep the words alive when I’m riding in cars with strangers. I’m terrible at small talk, so I’d prefer the driver to talk the whole time anyways. I have a que of general questions I’ll ask them, but usually I can find new, more specific questions as they respond to the general ones, and I become genuinely interested in them as a person, as well as their story.
The nice woman gave me a short tour of the little section of Onyx that she lived in, showed me a spot where I could camp if I should strike out on another ride, then dropped me off on the side of the road again, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
This was my first “two step” hitching attempt. It would have been convenient to get back to the trail in one go, but there’s always a part of me that enjoys the challenge of new things.
I stood on the side of that road for half an hour in the baking sun with my thumb out before an SUV that was actually going in the opposite direction than where I wanted to go, flipped around and pulled over. “Where ya headed?” The man asked. “Walker pass,” I replied. “I’ll take ya back up there,” he answered, and that was that.
He was another middle aged man named Jesse, and he was nurse that trained and mentored other nurses. His job took him all over the state, and he was familiar with the small California town that I grew up in, “Prunedale.” We talked mostly about the surrounding area (I used my info from Sam to fuel my questions), as well as his experiences as a nurse for the next 15 miles.
I got back to the trailhead around 6pm, and was greeted by a man doing trail magic for some other hikers camped nearby. I drank a soda, ate a hotdog, and hung around for a bit, before hitting the trail a little after 8 pm.
It was a 9 mile uphill climb out of walker pass, and I was content with finishing most of it before calling it a night.
The beginning of the climb was mostly sand, making it easy for katana, but it eventually turned into mostly broken up rock, forcing me to carry her. Up, up, up we went in the dark, the trail lit only by the stars. The going was painfully slow, but I couldn’t complain about the temperature. With full food, water, and dog on my back, the strain on my shoulders was considerable on this incline. After 10pm, and 5.5 miles, the ledge opened up into a flat area with some trees, overlooking a lit up town, way in the distance that I can only assume was Ridgecrest. Having about 80% of the altitude gaining portion of the climb done, I decided to call it a night. This little night hike would give me a good head start for tomorrow, before the temperature hit the triple digits.
Tomorrow’s plan is to simply get up early and walk as far as I can.