Start – Mile 535 7:00 am
End – Mile 558 6:45 pm
Miles – 23
Wind turbines maintain a constant whir so despite my earplugs I didn’t sleep well beneath them. Got up around six and started getting ready. Noticed a small bobcat cub in the bushes nearby but it ran off before I could get a picture of it.
The Burning Man crowd was still there getting ready for breakfast, but I wanted to get moving do I didn’t wait around.
Luckily today was back to the normal trail- no more dirt road along the aqueduct. For whatever reason my feet do better going up and down hills so after some discomfort in the morning today was mainly ok.
The first couple miles were straight through the wind farm in order to approach the Tehachapi mountains. Cindy told me they designed this route because the majority of the mountain range is owned by the family that founded the LA Times, and they wouldn’t consent to allow the trail over their land.
So despite the fact that you could connect the Tehachapi section with the Angeles National Forest section and keep it in the mountains, instead we have to do nearly 40 miles across the desert floor and then just cover the Eastern tip of this range.
I’ve actually been really looking forward to the Tehachapi since both times Tracy and I have driven through the area I thought the rolling hills along the perimeter of the valley were gorgeous.
But today I’m approaching from the South and they start off not much different from the desert floor in terms of vegetation. After a couple hours I crossed a small creek and hit more water before heading up a four mile incline to cross the highest point that we would touch, which was only about 6000 feet.
I like to time my breaks around tasks, so I didn’t want to break for lunch until I’d finished the climb. There was supposed to be a campsite right at the apex, so I aimed for that and kept pushing. As luck would have it as soon as I came to the crest I saw umbrellas and chairs set up and found myself in the midst of more trail magic. Southern California is going to have me thinking this is normal throughout the trail, but partially it’s because this is Memorial Day weekend so more people are out doing this stuff.
Daniel, our host, lived nearby until a wildfire destroyed his cabin 11 years ago. Now he lives in Tehachapi and maintains a water cache at the summit. But today there were snacks and fruits and more water. I stayed about an hour and then pressed on hoping to make it close to highway 58 before camp.
After lunch I still had about 10 miles to go to get to my target, which would put me about 8 miles from the highway. The hike down wrapped around a beautiful canyon, and pretty soon I was back in the thick of the wind farm that I had left this morning. It was starting to get late but there was no flat ground along the trail and this being a wind farm, I also needed a windbreak. I could see trees in the canyon below now blowing in the wind so I figured I’d just keep going until I hit my original target, which was a road crossing in the canyon. There has to be flat ground if there’s a road.
Getting down past six I was proven correct, there was flat ground but a lot of other people were already camping there. So I pushed on a bit further until I found a livestock camp with a picnic table. Four of us latecomers camped around this area which had another water cache, which is always nice.
Anyway I’m exhausted from the desert section and have 8 miles to do in the morning before heading into Tehachapi to resupply and rest for a night.