American towns tend to be a little difficult for pedestrians. Often, there is no real centre and everything is far apart, and there are few or no sidewalks. Tehachapi is no exception. After finding a motel for the night, I leave Andy and Chrigi to get hypnothised by the cycles of the washingmachine (with the laundromat we luck out, it’s close to the motel) and walk to the postoffice which is more than a mile away.
The good thing when walking is that you feel the atmospere of a place much better than if you just drive through. I really enjoy my walk, I see the offices of the local newspaper for example and little businesses. And the caracteristic thing of this town, the trains – every 20 minutes a huge train (I count 105 waggons on one) slowly drives through and while doing so is honking loudly. Sleeping might be a little difficult here😉
Sunset over Tehachapi – I like that town😊 (pic by Chrigi)
I get our bounce boxes (we send ourselves a package up the trail that we pick up now and then, it contains spare contact lenses for me and other items we don’t need on trail at the moment but might want later) and start my walk back, clearly less enthusiastic than before. The parcels are quite heavy and I’m wearing nothing but my raingear as everything else is in the laundry. It’s clinging to my skin, unless there is a strong gust of wind. Then my homemade rainskirt has the annoying habit of flapping open and revealing a bit more than just my bare legs if I’m unlucky… Just as I have to cross the bridge over the freeway where it’s quite windy, a car pulls over behind me and a woman shouts “Do you want a ride?”
Of course I do! My trailangels introduce themselves as Claudi and Travis. Claudi is originally from Germany and enjoys talking German with me. They drive me to the motel and help us again the next day (we zero in Tehachapi because we have many things to get done) to reach the postoffice before it closes for the weekend. They even wait for us while we pack our boxes there to bring us back! Just wow!
To thank them, we suggest to invite them for drinks. They like the idea and we agree to meet that evening. We play pool (or try at least in my case😉 – Travis plays very well and teaches me how to play) and try the local beer while chatting. There is a jukebox that we take advantage of – so there’s always good sound, too! It’s a super nice evening and we all enjoy it a lot! Thank you so much, Claudi and Travis, for everything!
Leaving town is sometimes a little difficult, especially if the conditions are not favorable. Like now: The upcoming section of the pct is apparentely the driest of the whole trail. That means we’ll need to carry a lot of water – we have bottles for five heavy liters each. Also, it seems to start with a tough climb everybody warns us about. So we set out a little anxiously…
The start is quite underwhelming. If you have seen the movie ‘Wild’, you know it: It’s where Cheryl Strayed started her pct-hike. The trail followes the freeway for about a mile (and therefore wouldn’t exactely win an award for a scenic trail) and then leads uphill. Slowly, it becomes beautiful again. And the feared climb is not so bad – maybe because we subconcientely prepared for something terrible. After only two hours, we’re in a very nice forest!
The pattern desert – forest – desert – forest repeats over the next few days. Every time we reach another part of forest, it seems to be a bit more like an alpine one – a glimpse maybe of what is to come in the Sierra Nevada that we are approaching at last?
…and desert again!
Aha, we’re still on trail!
Said Sierra Nevada is a very beautiful, higher and more alpine area. There is a lot of uncertainty connected with it: The last winter saw a lot of snow, which means that there is still a lot covering the pct that climbs very high up into the mountains. Nobody really knows what to expext, and there is a lot of contradictory talk. Our plan is to go and see for ourselves and then make a decision based on our own experience…
Right now, our problem is not too much water, but rather too little. Sources are around 17 miles apart at first and then there is no natural watersource for 35 miles! So even doing 20 miles per day as we manage now it’s going to be very tough, or rather, we’re going to be very thirsty… Thanks to anonymous, awesome trailangels there is water in this stretch, though! As we can’t count on it, we still carry five liters each – a little training for the physically demanding Sierra Nevada…😉
A much appreciated watercache!
We reach a few milestones: 600 miles, 1000 km, 1/4 of the trail and 700 miles! Being Europeans, the 1000 km especially makes us feel really happy – never did I dream that one day I’d walk 1000 km!! It feels quite surreal…
That’s mile 621,4…
One quarter done!!
Out bodies feel strong after so much walking. Going uphill with a heavy pack has become much easier – it still takes energy and we sweat in the hot climat, of course, but we are much faster now and it simply feels good! Healthwise we are doing quite well, too. The only problem seem to be our knees: They don’t bother us while walking (well, not too much at least), but when we stop and need to crouch down, they protest! And you need to crouch down a lot when backpacking! You’d think we’re at least 90 years old if you saw us in these moments😉
After a few days, we reach Walker Pass from where we hitch-hike into Lake Isabella to resupply and get much needed showers and laundry. On the way there, the pct comes up with something we haven’t experienced yet while on this trail: A snowstorm! In the desert! I know, I know… We have witnesses for our story, though😉
It doesn’t look too bad here, but the strong wind blows everything in our faces – it feels like little stones hitting us at times! I’m quite proud I’m still smiling😉
Hikers trying to stop a car by showing their sexy legs😉 We actually managed to make three big campers stop for us!
In Lake Isabella, we wait for Chrigi. He wanted to walk this section alone to find his rythem. The only problem is that there is almost zero signal on this part of the pct, so it’s very hard to stay in contact. We as the ones who are ahead leave messages for him in the trailregisters that now and again are positioned along the trail. For us it’s more tricky to get news from Chrigi. We ask other hikers, and on day three since Tehachapi meet somebody who has hiked with Chrigi. It’s very good to hear he is doing fine…
When he showes up and we are complete again, we start discussing how we should proceed. Vincent received a winterstorm-warning for the weekend and we are not sure if we should hike on or sit it out here in the more protected valley. Also, we talk about our plans for the Sierra Nevada where a lot of fresh snow has fallen these last days and will fall in he next days. Finally, we decide to wait in Lake Isabella: We’re on a nice and not too expensive campground and I’ve got a cold, so it makes more sense to relax a little here. This gives us the chance to repair some broken gear and relax, play poker and horseshoe-throwing, watch movies and read… We quickly get “itchy feet”, though, we just want to go on!
Chrigi and Vincent throwing horseshoes
After three zeros we finally start hiking again. The land still resembles the desert, but a cold wind is blowing that reminds more of icy peaks… We still see cacti and sand, but more and more pines and big rocks.
On our last day in the desert, we get a mix of everything (as goodbye-present perhaps?😉): Snow, sunshine, wind and rain! What a crazy trail! I see my first scorpion (thank you, Vincent, for showing me!) and Chrigi and Vincent find Obsidian!
Chrigi in the snow!
Ok, it’s tiny…😉
Other animals on the pct: A beautiful lizard…
…and an owl😉
Descending from the last peak in the desert, we find ourselves in big valley that definitely doesn’t look like desert anymore! It’s wild, there is a big river (the South Fork of the Kern river) and it somehow looks very ancient with the granit peaks and rock-formations surrounding it. We almost expect to see bears and wolves! It’s super beautiful!
And then, we finally reach it: Kennedy Meadows, the official end of the desert!! Now, a new chapter of our adventure will start… Slowly 😉