Day 37 & 38 – Water and electricity to LA
Tuesday 4 June 2019
Location: Mile 517.6 to Mile 534.9
Distance travelled: 17.3 miles / 28 km
After deciding to night walk the next long, dry hot section of trail I was excited about the prospect of a sleep in this morning but for the life of me, I couldn’t. I was wide awake at 6am. Even after a sleepless night, the strong winds were making creepy noises and shaking my trailer all night.
It was a lazy day, I got a lift into the cafe for a breakfast burrito and remained at the cafe until I was ready to hike out. I watched movies all day, ate ice cream and a token serving of fruit before having another burrito for good measure.
I set off on the trail just before 6pm, aiming to tackle the infamous LA aqueduct in the coolest part of the day. It was still above 30 degrees Celsius when I hiked out.
The aqueduct began as an open canal before converting into a closed pipe which then went underground, what I initially thought was the tarmac of a service road was actually the top of the aqueduct. Every so often there were access points to the water below, large concrete blocks like huge plugs to the water below. They made handy resting spots for breaks. Some people even camped on top, safeguarded from any cars coming past during the evening.
It was my first time night hiking since starting the PCT. I was initially nervous about it but as the sun began to sink in the sky a feeling of absolute joy swept over me. It was one of those moments where everything feels perfect and as it should be.
The sunset threw brilliant oranges across the sky and the Joshua Trees began to turn into shadowy figures surrounding the trail.
It was a brilliant starry sky with the moon making only a sliver of an appearance.
Even without a full moon for light I was able to hike without my headlamp for most of the night. The aqueduct was flat and easy to walk on with minimal trip hazards.
I thought I would find the long stretch boring but in the dark of the evening all of my other senses were heightened and I felt present.
During the night I spotted several kangaroo mice hopping about in the sand on the side of the trail. In the torch beam they became confused and didn’t know which direction to run in.
The winds picked up as the evening progressed. I was hoping it would ease up so I could find a nice place to camp around 11pm. It was wishful thinking, the trail lead me through a windfarm with the wind turbines whirring overhead and their lights flashing red warning planes of their existence.
Just before midnight I arrived at Cottonwood Creek and found a perfect camp spot on a flat bed of sand just off the trail. It was still a little windy so I left the fly off of the tent and enjoyed a breeze as I slept. After a big day I slept incredibly soundly despite the wind. It was nice to be sleeping warm for another night.
Wednesday 5 June 2019
Location: Mile 534.9 to Mile 558.5
Distance travelled: 23.6 miles / 38 km
Sleeping with the fly off I thought the sunrise would wake me before my 5am alarm did but I was so snuggly in my tent the light didn’t wake me. I needed a coffee this morning so I took my time to have coffee and something to eat before heading back out on trail.
It was a fun experience waking up in a wind farm. After camping in the Mesa wind farm a few weeks back I didn’t think I would ever camp in a wind farm again but here I was. It was a lot less daunting walking it in the morning rather than the evening. Everything was a lot less spooky looking.
I was moving by 6am and my departure coincided with that of 2 other hikers whom I hadn’t previously met, Salad and Twinkle. I hiked with them through the windfarm and down to Tylerhorse Canyon.
Tylerhorse canyon was an oasis from the heat of the morning. I took a good long break, filled up with water and ate my oats.
From Tylerhorse canyon it was going to be a long hot climb up the mountain. I was aiming for a shaded tent site where I could sleep for a few hours before setting off again at 5ish.
Halfway during my climb up the mountain the heat got to me again. I sat down for a rest in the shade and ended up falling asleep.
Waking up from my microsleep I continued on to find the most incredible little camp which a local trail angel had converted into a hikers oasis with a water cache and all. I was intending to go half a mile further to the next campsite but couldn’t go past the cute little setting. Two southbound hikers were also enjoying the shade, water and umbrellas. I chatted with them on and off for a couple of hours, they provided me with some helpful info on the water sources coming up for me northbound. These ladies had the right idea. They hike short days and every night watch a movie as they cowboy camp under the stars.
At 4.30pm I decided it was probably time to get back on the trail. There was still a bit of heat left in the day but I wanted to make sure I got into camp before sun down.
The trail was mostly downhill from the little oasis with views over the epic Tehachapi Pass wind farm. I would later find out that it is one of the biggest wind farm in the world.
I’ve met quite a few hikers who don’t like hiking under the wind turbines but I find them interesting, its a change of scenery and it’s not often you get to experience something like this so close up.
Along my way I stopped to have dinner with a view, taking in the wind farm below.
Back on trail I saw two separate snakes taking in the last of the afternoon sun. The first was very skittish and made itself know before I was even within 2 meters of it. It rattled a very long rattle. I naturally stopped to check it out but it wasn’t too happy when I didn’t move on as warned. It eventually started to coil up and point it’s head at me. I decided I’d probably pushed it too far by that point and continued on.
The second snake was the polar opposite of the first. I’m not entirely sure whether it was a rattlesnake. It was super chilled, sunning itself across the trail. I tried unsuccessfully to get it to move on and resorted to walking off trail around it.
As the sun started to lower in the sky I had pretty views over the windfarm, Joshua tress and desert foliage being lit up by the pink sky.
I spent the night camped half a mile before willow springs trail head under a giant willow tree. It was extremely pretty and a warm clear night so I left the fly off to enjoy the view and the breeze. As I was settling down I could hear what I think were rats running around and squeaking in the bushes. I made sure I slept with my food bag right under my head so I could hear any attempts on my food during the night.