Many of us are getting pretty tired of the desert. Long, hot, waterless trail, chaparral, midday naps under bridges in the middle of the day: all these things are wearing people a little thin. Getting to Tehachapi Pass, however, puts a smile on most everyone’s face since it means the end of the notorious “Section E” of the PCT and the start of the long climb into the Sierra Nevadas.
The desert crossing didn’t end up being all that bad, in fact. Temperatures stayed, mostly, under 100 degrees and hiking in the cool hours of the morning and evening certainly helped. Also helpful were the relatively high frequency of roads from which to access civilization. In addition to the Saufleys’ Hiker Heaven, I stopped by the Anderson residence in Green Valley and was treated to taco salad, all the Dr. Pepper and Budweiser I could drink, and a late night vegetable oil wrestling match. Also on the way through Section E on the Mojave Desert’s fringe was quizzically-named Hikertown.
The name prompts one to think of a vibrant hiker community-complex with ample supplies and enthusiastic hosts. As it turned out, Hikertown didn’t quite meet expectations, which was double trouble for me, since I had planned on taking four days off to heal my fungal infection as the medicine wasn’t working as fast as I’d liked.
Hikertown is best described as being half farmyard and half junkyard; the two separated by a low ranch-style yellow house and several trailers. The junkyard is the final resting place of an old train boxcar, a S.W.A.T. van, many engine parts, a forklift, and thousands of miscellaneous metal tidbits, from chainsaws to cheese graters. The farmyard up front has a nice lawn with comfy chairs, a grill, and a shady tree. This is where hikers aggregate to take a break from the sun and get water. My stay was cut to 2 1/2 days when the caretaker had to lock up as he was leaving for a few days on a job assignment.
I was ready to get out anyway. Other than making trips to the Sizzler (2), sorting scrap metal, listening to the rooster crow from 4 am to 9 pm, and watching “The Godfather”, there’s not much to do out t here.
My push through the Mojave was interesting as part of the trail paralleled the Los Angeles aqueduct, a mostly underground pipeline that brings drinking water to L.A. from the Sierra Nevadas. I also saw a lot of joshua trees, curious tree-cacti that look like they’re straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. I celebrated one month on the trail (hooray!) recently and passed the 500-mile “mark”. (There are no real mile markers out here. Hikers rely mostly on a data book which tells us mileage. I passed 500 miles, a nameless dirt road, at 10 pm a few days back). I continue to hike alone, although my path inevitably intersects me with many other hikers and we usually spend a day or so together before one person gets ahead of the other. After spending last night behind a bush in the middle of a wind farm, I got into Tehachapi today with an Oregon farmer who is calling himself “Farmer-Pirate”. His wife is driving down to meet him tomorrow night, so we’ve split a motel room in town for the night. At $55 per night, we’ve got a good rate, although it’s a bit of a seedy motel. (On inquiring about shampoo missing from the bathroom, we were handed a big bottle of Pert Plus, which looked as though the owners had taken it from their own bathroom….)
I’m heading back out tomorrow morning and am looking forward to getting into the Sierras!
I’m enjoying everyone’s mail and am looking forward to a group of letters from you CNMC folk. I miss home and think about you all often. For everyone who sent me mail to Cabazon, I got the last batch today which had letters from Dad, Aunt Esteruth, Sam, Grandma, and Clawsy Johnson. Thanks for the saffron tip, Clawsy! I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of summer and is taking good care of themselves: body, mind, and spirit.