The immediate stretch after Agua Dulce connects two famous trail angel hostels. I stayed at the Saughleys and the next one after that is Casa De Luna. The hiking distance between the two is 24 miles. There is a history of thru-hiker “challenges” I have learned about. On the AT there is the half gallon ice cream challenge at the halfway point, where the goal is to eat a half gallon of ice cream as quick as possible. Its still the reason to this day I cannot eat Cherries Jubilee flavored ice cream. Evidently the stretch between the SAughleys and the Andersons (Casa De Luna) there is also a challenge called The 24 x 24. One must pack out 24 beers and consume one every mile. I personally did not attempt it, due to common sense and the extreme desert temperatures; but I do know of at least 3 hikers that did successfully complete it. There was a register right before reaching the Anderson’s and there barely legible entries proved either they were completely sloshed or they have horrible handwriting. My guess is the former. I am proud to report that I passed the 500 mile mark and have now been out for more than 5 weeks. I have been hiking with two Mexicali brothers named, Eduardo and Carlos and a guy named Sanjo who calls himself the “world’s fastest Indian.” I met him at Hikertown which is a bizarre amalgamation of small scaled buildings imitating an old time Western movie town setting. The care takers there look like they have watched the movie Gummo a few times too often. The man kinda reminds me of Christopher Walken with his disheveled beard and hair and unsteady mien. They were very nice but also a bit stand-offish and paranoid. I stayed corraled in their garage with at least another dozen of very smelly hikers eating take-out from a local restaurant. After hikertown, the water sources have become very rare and at least 25 to 30 miles between them. The hiking has mostly been along the LA aqueduct where i camped one night listening to some crazy, howling coyotes. Two nights before that I was camping by myself and startled awake by a death metal growl. I awoke from a dead sleep, heard two growls and unzipped my tent. I ventured out grabbed my trekking poles and challenged the creature by yelling back at him. It growled one more time and then the next time I heard it it had moved (very quicky) away by the time it growled again. I later talked to a retiree hiker named Greyhound and he confirmed it was more than likely a mountain lion and not a bobcat which is what I thought. He said by me yelling and waving my poles it made me a harder target and my actions probably staved off an unpleasant encounter. Since then, i have tried to camp near other hikers. The last few miles before Mojave was through a windfarm and I have to say it is the most severe wind that I have encountered. Headwinds of steady 50 mph and gusts up to 75mph!! Hiking into these winds while walking in inertial draining sand has been very infuriating. But alas I finally was able to make it to the highway and hitch into Mojave, I took a zero day and stayed at a cheap motel. The following day I hiked back out with my heaviest pack to date. I have 7 days worth of food and a gallon and a half of water. During the next 6 mile stretch, I badly turned my ankle and fell down. I limped to highway 58 and hitched into Tehachapi where lo and behold my old pal Caesar is at. We are both currently taking another zero day at the airport here where they charge hikers 5 dollars to camp in a picnic area, and hangout in the pilots lounge. We also have access to internet, TV, and showers. My ankle is pretty swollen, but doesn’t hurt too bad. I think I will be able to hike out tomorrow on it, but I am resting with it wrapped and iced today chilling. Anyways, only another 136 miles to Kennedy Meadows and the start of the Sierra Mountains. I can’t wait to get out of the desert where my fear of rattlesnakes will be traded for my fear of bears. It has also been raining here and cold temperatures, extremely rare weather for the desert. I have been reading the book, The Trail by Cheryl Strayed as it is fast becoming what A Walk In The Woods by Bryson is to the AT as her book is to the PCT. Completely opposite tomes in that Strayed’s book is very serious and dour, whereas Bryson’s book is much more humorous. Cheryl Strayed starts her hike at Mojave, so it is kinda cool to read ahead of the places I will be at in the coming weeks. Anyways, cheers to everybody at home and hope everybody is enjoying their almost-to-be summers.
Mojave/Tehachapi (566) miles