There is something that draws us to the outdoors. This may differ from hiker to hiker, but as the miles pile up, the lines between reasons blur... Silence of mind is something that many of us can not experience in our day to day. Into the night, as your feet continuously pound the trail, your mind falls quiet. Your breathing becomes rhythmic and time slips with thought; you live in the moment.
The trail fed us into the mouth of a long tunnel which traveled far below the traffic of Highway 14, eventually dumping us out in the alien landscape of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. Geological forces have been long at work here, tilting and uplifting gigantic slabs of layered sediment and sandstone. These rocks are moving (couldn't resist the pun). The rocks have played backdrop for many famous films and television shows: Star Trek, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Tombstone, Blazing Saddles, and my favorite, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!
Rolling out of the park, we made our way into the town of Agua Dulce for a beer. A large number of hikers had been talking about a place called Hiker Heaven in Agua Dulce, so we decided to check it out. Appropriately named, Hiker Heaven provides hikers with an insane amount of amenities free of cost (Donations are highly encouraged). A full kitchen, barbecues, hot water showers, restrooms, internet tent with computers, sewing machine, TV, library, guitars and LAUNDRY SERVICE are all available to hikers. Jeff & Donna, along with their crew of volunteers, are unbelievably welcoming.
Beer Muffin, the hiker that recorded the "music video" in our prior post, prepared a tri-tip dinner for the 12 or so hikers that were staying the night. In our freshly cleaned cloths, we all ate and drank like royalty. Katie and I slept in a very nice horse trailer that evening, saving us the effort of erecting our tent. A huge thank you to Jeff and Donna for opening your home to all of the dirty hikers, we are seriously grateful.
FLOWERS, & MORE FLOWERS
CASA DE LUNA
After leaving Hiker Heaven we heard about a spot called Casa De Luna about 24 miles away. We decided to go check them out. The Anderson's are an insanely laid back couple with a serious love for hikers. When we arrived they ordered us to drop our packs and dawn a Hawaiian shirt. The idea is, if you wear a Hawaiian shirt you will forget that you are a dirty hiker on a mission to kill miles. RELAX... We were wary of Casa De Luna, we had heard it was a party spot... We were glad that we did not pass based on hearsay.
At Casa De Luna the theme is RELAX. You can paint rocks, drink beer, read and lounge on their plethora of couches in the driveway. They have a bad ass old growth manzanita forest in their backyard, into which they cut 60 different tent sites. Also, these folks provide an amazing taco salad bar for dinner, as well as pancakes for breakfast!
THE WAY TO TEHACHAPI
The desert days were beyond hot, with water points few and far between. We decided to do most of our hiking during the early morning and into the night. We topped off our water at a place called Hiker Town on the outskirts of Lancaster and hit the trail as the sun began to set. On this portion of the trail, you hike along the Los Angeles aquaduct. We hiked into the night until we came to a tall cement access point on the aquaduct. We pulled out our bags and "cowboy camped" under the stars.
OUR FIRST 30+ MILE DAY
We awoke at 3:30am to put some miles behind us before the sun could beat us down. The trail led us to a wind farm where gigantic wind turbines towered over us, mile after mile.
We hiked until noon, about 17 miles, when we came across a decent stream flowing through a canyon. We decided to set up a sunshade and nap through the heat of the day. Clouds began to roll in around 4, so we packed up our bags and were back on the trail by 5. That night we hiked until midnight, putting another 15 miles on our feet. To our surprise, neither of us found our first 30 mile day too difficult.
A VERY FORTUITOUS MORNING
The long day had put us in a position to hitch into Tehachapi first thing in the morning. When we made our way out to the highway, a CHP officer passed us, flipped around and got out of his vehicle. We thought for sure we were going to get a lecture, or worse a ticket, for hitchhiking. The officer approached us and said "well, it must be that time of year!" He offered us a ride in the back of his car all the way to Tehachapi, 9 miles away. Very cool!
Officer Smith dropped us off at the local Denny's for breakfast. Katie and I had just ordered a serious spread when a woman and her two young kids approached our table. She saw through the grime and knew what we were up to. We had a wonderful conversation with her and her two intelligent boys. When our food arrived.they wished us luck and were on their way. Moments later, refilling our coffee with a large smile, our waitress let us know that the woman we were speaking with had paid for our meal.
These are the sort of things you can not hope for; kindness you do not expect...
As everyone knows, this year was a huge snow year for the Sierra. As we approach, we are only 140 miles from Kennedy Meadows, we are realizing that our plan for a straight thru-hike will need to be altered. Once we reach Kennedy Meadows we will be headed home to Paso Robles for two weeks to plan our alternate route. Our current plan is spend June hiking up the Pacific coast, continuing our hike from the Northern Terminus, ultimately ending our PCT journey in Kennedy Meadows. In the PCT world this is called a flip, and we are pretty sure many will be utilizing the flip strategy this year.
Until next time,
Steve N Katie