September 25, 2017
Big Rock Camp – Dirt Road Camp After Wind Farm Climb
31.5 miles/11hrs 25′
I’m surprised how cold it is this morning. I walk fast to warm up the body, wearing everything I have. Enter sunshine. Layers are stripped off. I walk and eat my last trail magic apple from Cherokee and JD into the warmth of day. This extra food makes the days hunger tolerable. Back to normal hiker hunger rather than rationing beyond what’s already insatiable. Very exposed burn areas smell like skunk. Skunk? Little do I know, it’s the dreaded Poodle Dog Brush I will see (smell) on a regular basis. What I do know is it’s not a skunk and I’m not touching that thing. Saw one other hiker today, a NOBO section hiker harvesting miles. I wish him good luck.
I am tired.
It’s a long day.
Not much more to say but the camp is awesome, in a grove of trees on a tedious dirt road I can only hope does not have any traffic because of the fine white dust it’s made of, sleep comes easily and I think, just maybe, I might take a zero in Mojave/Tehachapi. We shall see.
September 26, 2017
Jeep Road Camp – Highway 58 (Interstate?) to Mojave/Tehachapi
12 miles/3 hrs 50′
A wonderful morning walk on the dreaded jeep road that finally meets trail again. I’m buzzing off a triple Via Espresso/hot chocolate mix/butter coffee. Who needs food when you have fat and caffeine, right? Right. Then I remember I have that one last KIND bar. I devour it in record time. I am officially out of food.
Hwy 58 below this sublime sunrise
I see a burrowing owl on the trail just before dawn. Windmills churn in the distance. The hum of the highway fills the early boring air. Where there was silence for the last number of days, there is now the rumble of the train (EVERY 20 minutes of so) and semi-truck/car engines flying up/down the HWY. The sound doesn’t bother me because soon I will be in town eating A LOT of food. The hunger when I reach the interstate and the mile long or so walk to the trail/hwy junction is intense. I feel like I’m eating my stomach lining. I’m so freaking hungry. Food. All I can think about is FOOD. Oh, and peeing. I walk along the HWY and am so used to peeing wherever and whenever I want, I almost pee my pants because I am now doing the opposite trying to hold it because I am walking right beside the flow of traffic, with no place to bail.
I reach the HWY and see the sign saying no pedestrians past the sign. How am I supposed to hitchhike if I cannot go on the HWY and stick out my thumb? I call the number on another sign that says a bus will stop and pick me up if I call this number. There is no answer. I call Peter. Give him this number. He calls for me but they say call later. He says ‘my wife is on the highway 58 and trying to get the bus to stop…’ They say try later. Thanks.
There is a note taped into the trail register saying how great Mojave is and less spread out than Tehachapi etc. etc. There is a name and a number so I try this. It’s a local trail angel saying ‘come to our town, it’s got everything and more than the other town’. I need to go to Mojave to get my mail drop but really want to go to Tehachapi. I have learned it’s the ‘better’ hiker town (okay, I admit it, there is a brewery there…and Cherokee and JD…). I call the number and eventually a lady answers. I tell her I’m on HWY 58 and there is a note with her name and number ‘I’m RedFeather and not sure what to do here…’
‘Honey, I’m a long haul trucker, I don’t live in Mojave any more, in fact I’m currently in Massachusetts, explain to me what you are trying to do’. I go through my predicament and my new friend listens. She tells me how she took a year off just to help the hikers. How there is another trail angel in town that will help. She tells me I can walk right up to the sign, stick my thumb out, it is my right to be there, and someone will stop. Everyone knows the hikers. She says if I have any further problems to call her back. She will figure something out.
I walk down to the sign and see a man walking towards me from the overpass of the HWY. He’s waving his hands. I make my way back up the ramp towards him. He asks if I need a ride, where am I going. He’s a trucker, saw me sitting there and apparently wants to help. He knows nothing of the trail which makes me nervous as we walk. He doesn’t even seem to know where Mojave is (the direction he is driving) and then mentions how ‘pretty’ I am. Oh gawd. I start talking about my husband and that I’ve just called him and let him know someone was going to give me a ride…all the while thinking there is no way in hell I’m getting into this truck with this creep…when a car pulls up beside us, rolls down the window, and a young red-headed woman asks ‘are you on the PCT?’ To which I say yes, that I a trying to get to Mojave, ‘you can give me a ride?’ She gives me a knowing look and I get in the car, leaving the trucker standing there. Creep. Yuck.
I tell my new friend what’s just happened and she said ‘I am glad to help.’ She’s just dropped off her boyfriend who’s hiking a section of the trail. He had too much food and she offers me his leftovers. It’s all expensive organic stuff. I gratefully accept the offer.
I’m dropped off at the Best Western along the road that parallels the train tracks. That is the highway that runs through town. It is loud and strange and a bit rough in Mojave. I see a pretty girl and smile. She smiles back. Soon she comes over with a group of more pretty girls and two handsome guys. They are loading their suitcases into a big white van. They’re on a trip to Yosemite and other scenic places. They have many questions for the trail. I ask where they’re from and they ask me to guess. I have no idea but I wonder if it is an island where everyone is good looking and friendly. ‘We are from Poland. We are Jehovah’s Witnesses, do you know what that is? Here is our card.’ I receive many cards from this crew of JW’s. I’m so hung I’m almost passing out and wonder shouldn’t they be offering a treat of something to the infidels (haha).
All I can think about is food so when I’m out of the grips of these nice folks I make my way over to a deli/doughnut shop. Which is a very dangerous place to be when you have hiker hunger. I order everything that looks good and am already thinking about what else I will order when I sit down at a booth. Old timers are to my left with coffee cups in hand, talking about Trump and how he’s doing a good job, yes he is. To my right are Mexican American blue collar workers. I think they work at the Wind Farm nearby judging from the patch on their uniform. One of them smiles at me and says ‘these sandwiches are too big. Do you want half of this?’. I politely decline with a smile because really, I did order too much food. I eat doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches and more treats until I am mildly stuffed.
I make my way to to post office walking along the big wide streets of this strange town. A woman with a lot of makeup and very tight colourful clothes walks the same direction on the other side of the street. She looks over and smiles ‘Well God Bless You, honey. What a nice day this is.’ I smile back and say yes it is, a nice day for a walk.
Upon entering the PO I’m greeted by a smiling postman ‘Well hello, Clara. Welcome to Mojave. You’re early.’ I wonder how he knows my name and soon learn I am the last package from a thru-hiker they have on hold for the year. He warns me of the ‘mojave green’ snakes and wishes me well on my way.
I walk out to the parking lot with my package in hand, pack on my back and suddenly, without warning am flying through the air. I hit the curb with my left quad muscle and land with the rest of me in the dirt. I think I’ve been shot only nothing hurts as much as I imagine being shot would hurt like. What in the hell has just happened, I wonder, as I lay there. My package is still in the grip of my hands. Hastily, I get up. I look around. The parking lot is empty save for a car. I am alone. I look down, I look back to where I’ve walked from. I see a curb that is in place in every parking spot so that the vehicle stops where it should. I realize this bloody think is the culprit. I was so smitten with my full belly and re-supply package I failed to look where I was walking and tripped over the damn thing. I then sheepishly look around and wonder, did anyone see that, and if so, what did it look like???? I was like SuperWoman flying through the air. Backpack and all. I’ll have a nasty bruise to who for it, that’s for sure. But other than this I think I’m okay. Just a little embarrassed, is all.
I hang out in Mojave at the bus stop then Subway/gas station waiting for the bus that will take me to Tehachapi. Everyone talks to me. Kids. Transients. Workers. Homeless folks. The girls at Subway give me extra-extra goodies in my sandwich. They’ve seen my kind before and one even points out, ‘now pack her sandwich up with lots of napkins. She will eat half now and the other half, later. This woman has already eaten but will be hungry again soon.’ She winks and I smile, thinking how funny it is to be here as a hiker in this rough town waiting for a bus.
I arrive in Tehachapi and am able to check into a hotel at noon. I shower. I eat. I lay around. I am happy and exhausted and think back to this already very full day and it’s only noon. I think about a zero and know I just can’t do it. I have to walk tomorrow even if I’m tired. It’s my birthday after all and there is no other place I’d rather be than on trail to celebrate #45.
I connect with JD and Cherokee and am soon at that brewery drinking some nice local beer. I spot four hikers at the bar and wonder what direction they are walking. I’m too tired to go and say hi and a bit shy, too. It feels weird to walk up to a group of people and say something like ‘hey, I’m hiking the trail, are you?’. I’m certain I’ll see them within a day of two.