Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mojave Desert floor, Tehachapi and Friday 13th Full Moon

Day 34 - 35:
It was sad having to say goodbye to Josh and I was so grateful that he had flown all the way from Hawaii to see me. Wow, what a treat! I felt restored and ready to conquer more trail. By the time I got to Hiker Town in the afternoon, the temperature was soaring at 110 degrees F and the wind felt like a hot oven door had been opened. 

Hiker Town appeared deserted upon arrival and I did not want to wait there by myself, the cafe four miles down Hwy 138 seemed like a much better option. It is a great little shop with awesome service from the owner who prepares sandwiches and burgers in a lovely air conditioned environment.
When I got back to Hiker Town, I eventually looked in the garage and was delighted to see Saint, Rocky 4, Gourmet, Lady Mac and Ken. We decided to start hiking through the Mojave Desert floor at 7pm, to get through this awful stretch during the coolness of the night, setting out along the California Aqueduct.

 We walked until midnight at which point we were all exhausted and made the decision to have a power nap until 3am. We lay down on a concrete bridge in the middle of nowhere and I had to put several layers of clothing on as it was quite chilly once we stopped moving. I was lucky if I got 2 hours of sleep but it was nevertheless refreshing and my thought processes were no longer fixated on sleeping. 

By sunrise we arrived at the water cache under Cottonwood bridge and I ate a nut bar for breakfast. We were in the middle of a windmill field and had another 7 miles to go before we reached the creek with a trickle of flowing water where we planned to rest and wait out the midday heat. 

By 8 am, it was already a scorcher and although I tried to find a small patch of shade to rest under after collecting creek water and filtering it into my water bladder, I found that I could not fall asleep and the shade diminished rapidly as the sun got higher. 

At 2 pm I braved the heat and proceeded to trudge along the multiple switchbacks along the monotonous hillsides with no shade. We were now on the mountains on the other side of the desert floor. It was quite extraordinary looking out over the desolate desert plain and seeing the route I had walked which was mostly barren except for some low scrub, Joshua trees, hundreds of windmills and fields of solar panels. 

I was extremely happy to leave all of that behind me.
By 9:30 pm, I had not reached the road to Tehachapi yet. I had a resupply box waiting for me in this town at the post office. The mountain ridge was extremely windy and I found a horse feed/ water trough empty, which looked like the perfect semi-sheltered bed. 

I climbed into it, curled up in my sleeping bag beneath the giant whirring wind turbines and slept like a baby.

So grateful for:
1) Josh- your visit meant the world to me and Joshua got to see a Joshua tree!

2) Being able to hike with such wonderful fellow hikers.
3) Sunrise in the desert
4) A flowing creek.
5) A horse feed trough bed.. 

Day 36:
I made it to Tehachapi this morning and had a wonderful breakfast while waiting for the postoffice to open.
The Little Feat song mentioning this town was the only other time I had heard if it.

"I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari 
Tehachapi to Tonapah 
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made 
Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed 
And if you give me, weed, whites, and wine 
And you show me a sign 
I'll be willin', to be movin' "

I had now reached the Sierra Nevada, the Tehachapi mountains form the southern most tip of the Sierras and it is sometimes referred to as the Sierran tail or hook.

After successfully retrieving my resupply box, I was immediately offered a ride back to the trail. I put on my new shoes, stuffed overloaded Purple Monster to capacity with food and water and set out once more. The afternoon was spent crawling my way up a miserable, hot, arid, windy mountain. I can't wait to leave the desert behind me! It's been 560 miles/ 901 km so far of heat, low lying scrub, dust and dryness. My eyes are yearning for greenery and water and so I push onwards.

At 4 pm, I found a sheltered area and cooked my organic " Lentils and rice and Indian spice" dinner, made by Mary Jane Farms for backpacking. I mix it up with Mountain House and Backpackers Pantry brands and a few cheap and nasty but tasty brands in between
By the time I reached 6000ft, I was in the tree line and feeling much happier and set up camp around 7:30 pm, just me, myself and I alone on a mountain.

Thankful for:
1) My resupply box in Tehachapi
2) My friend Heather for offering to pick me up but unfortunately the timing didn't work out
3) My new trail running shoes
4) A big bright moon
5) Josh, for always being there for me

Day 37:
It was a lovely start along the tree line and I made it to Golden Oak spring by 08:30, which was actually just a tiny trickle of water. 

I had to filter it and fill up my 4 liters of water storage because the next water source was 18.1 miles away. I met Ken, String Cheese and Katsumi ( Too Young) at the spring. The hike from there started out well, through a wooded area and past more windmills which were all an older version installed in the early 1990's. I seriously can't believe how many wind turbines there are out there!

Very soon the landscape changed to a blackened, charred graveyard of trees and remained that way for the majority of the 18 miles I covered that day. It reminded me of scenes from " The Road".... Horrible, dead and hot!

 I did see two beautiful deer though and almost stepped on two rattlesnakes.
By 9:30 pm, I finally made it to Robin Bird Spring and was the only one there in this eerie environment. 

I set up my tent beside the torn down, dilapidated house at the spring. Fortunately at 10 pm, Dimples and Snake Eyes arrived which enabled me to fall asleep more at ease.

Today I am thankful for:
1) Hiking good mileage
2) Seeing two deer
3) Full moon
4) Not running out of water between springs
5) Having other hikers arrive at camp

Day 38:
Don't let the name " Robin Bird Spring"  fool you into thinking that I landed in some sort of idyllic heaven. It's basically the ruins of an old house with a black pipe sticking out of the ground with water running  out of it, surrounded by many, many cow patties. 

However, I am grateful to be able to replenish my water supplies.
I started my day with an instant Starbucks Mocha Latte and an Odwalla bar. I had washed my hiking clothes in the spring last night and they were still wet, so I hiked in my luxury item Peacock Feather dress. 

It took me about an hour to sort myself out and filter four liters of water again. The hike started out very pleasantly through a pine forest but as the afternoon progressed, the trail went back into the desert hills and I was once again seared by heat.

 By evening time the winds had picked up substantially and I was being buffeted, sometimes knocked off the path and had to really dig my trekking poles in to stay upright. I started looking for a place to potentially sleep. Off the path and down canyon I saw the remains if a rusted old bus but decided against hiking down there to sleep in it as it smacked too much of " Into the Wild" coupled with the fact that it was Friday 13th and full moon. I didn't want to be discovered dead in the wrecked bus lying next to my journal. So I continued, past an old mine shaft and up over an exposed ridge which offered no shelter nor protection from the elements. By this time the winds were blowing gale force, I screamed into the wind, begging the heavens for a sheltered spot for me to set up camp in. I had also missed the unmarked Willow Springs turn off, my satellite phone had died and my cell phone had no reception. I cried as I was pummeled by the wind and almost started panicking but then pulled myself together and  got my survival skills going. I found a clump of boulders and wedged myself behind them. It was impossible to set up a tent due to the horrific wind, so I cowboy camped, huddled in a ball behind the boulder, while the smell of a wildfire filled my nostrils. I was terrified and had never felt more alone.

Such was my night in the full moon on Friday 13th!
1) A trail angel water cache. Without it, I would have been in serious trouble!
2) I saw another beautiful Mule Deer today.
3) Thankful for not panicking and making a survival plan.
4) Shelter from the wind behind a boulder
5) First cowboy camp!

Day 39:
So I survived last night! I didn't die of exposure nor did I get burned in a wildfire... Off to a good start!
I want to make it to Hwy 178 asap and complete this awful section. I met a couple Jen and Justin at a water cache, which was basically dry. We had to climb a mountain up to 7000ft and it was fairly tough going in the heat.

 Once at the top, I was rewarded with trees, some shade and beautiful vistas. 

Later in the afternoon I met up with Snake Charmer again who was hiking fast to get to the highway by dark. I couldn't keep up with his pace and did not make it down the mountain by nightfall but was in my tent in a sheltered area by 9 pm! Yay!

Grateful for:
1) Surviving an awful night
 2) Water cache trail angels
3) Beautiful vistas
4) Pleasant day hiking
5) Safety in my tent in a sheltered area. I could hear the wind going crazy outside but it wasn't catching me where I was. Whew!

Day 40:
A short hike took me to Hwy 178 and I hitched a long ride to Lake Isabella to have a day of rest, shower, do my laundry and buy supplies.
Staying at the funny little Isabella Motel, catching up on my blog and will head out again tomorrow. Next destination is Kennedy Meadows! So far I have walked 652 miles through the wilderness and only have 1998 miles to go.   
The wildfire I had smelled the night before is still raging out of control above Lake Isabella and the area is full of smoke. Hundreds of firefighters have been dispatched here and there are TV news crews around. I hope they get it under control soon!

Thankful for:
1) Getting a ride from Kenny
2) a room at an inn
3) Having less than 2000 miles ahead of me
4) Rest
5) Shower, clean hair, clean clothes, fresh food and a comfy bed.


  1. Animo!!! I hope you have better days/nights in the trail

    1. Thank you so much! I hope you continue to share my journey with me via my stories. Aloha!

  2. Hi Heather :) checking and praying for you everyday brave friend .. keep going!!

    1. Thank you so much for your ongoing support and interest in my journey! Big hugs and aloha 😄

  3. Heather, you are an incredibly adventurous brave woman! Wishing you well! Aloha

    1. Mahalo Carol! I appreciate you sharing in my adventure! Say aloha to my tango friends.