|See all the windmills in the distance? Evil scary windmills...|
May 27th, Tuesday
558.5 to ?
The next morning, we were fed and clean and ready to hit the trail. Loaded up with snacks, we got into Lisa’s car and she drove us to Tehachapi. She dropped us at the grocery store so we could buy some supplies, then took us to the post office. We and some other hikers waited for it to open. There was a huge line inside, since it was the day after Memorial Day.
An older woman saw my hiking gear and swooped in on me, eager to give advice. Without preamble she launched in: “Be sure to change your socks every hour. And when you lace up your boots, first kick your heel against the ground, then lace them as tight as you can.”
I smiled and nodded, not telling her that the flimsy trail runners on my feet were my trail shoes. She grinned, satisfied that she had helped my trail experience, and left to stand in line.
We got our box and haphazardly packed it up. Lisa drove us down the highway, leaving the forest and mountains behind us, and taking us back into the lower-lying hills.
She dropped us off where they’d picked us up. We thanked her for all that she’d done for us, she waved goodbye, and just like that, she was gone. We looked around us at the dusty bright sky, the windmills, the desolate landscape. It felt like no time had passed at all, and that our stay with Bill and Lisa was just a dream.
We had now reached roughly the point where Cheryl Strayed began her famous hike. I reflected that I would not want to be here once June hit. It was already too hot!
We still had eight miles to go to reach Highway 58, where there was (hopefully) a cache. We chugged our water with abandon, hoping the water report wouldn’t prove wrong. As we road-walked near the highway, a guy in a truck made a U-turn to ask if we needed a hitch into Tehachapi. Other hikers confirmed what we felt: Tehachapi was one of the friendliest towns on trail!
We also noticed that we were about to reach Section F. “How many sections are there, anyway?” I asked.
“California goes all the way to Section R,” Zach said. “And then it starts over again in Oregon and Washington, and goes from A to L.”
I counted on my fingers how many sections we’d have to go through just to get out of California. “Thirteen,” I said in despair.
“Some of them are short,” Zach said. He paused. “Some of them are long, though.”
I shook my head. At this point, I couldn’t comprehend that we could possibly walk that far.
At the highway, true to the water report, we found a large cache with gallons of water, a trash bag, and a package of off-brand oreos. We sat there for a while, filling up our bottles.
The trail followed the edge of the highway for a while, traveling in a sunken ditch on the downside of a sandy hill. Then the trail veered from the highway and wound up a gradual slope toward the nearby hills. Zach and I took a little break by the side of the trail, then stood up to get going again. I glanced down at the low, brushy ground cover near Zach’s feet— and saw a rattle less than a foot away from his next step.
I seized his arm. “What?” Zach asked.
“Rattlesnake,” I whispered. We both leaped back just as a long, thin, striped snake reared out of the brush, coiling into a strike position as his rattling filled the air. We certainly got out of his way quickly! Fortunately he slithered away soon after, and we were able to continue.
We climbed up into these hills (just a few weeks ago, I would have called them mountains), which gave a nice view of the desert. In my journal I note, “Relaxing pine forest. Camping in forest under stars.” But I can’t for the life of me remember anything about the end of this day. That evening, like grains of sand, has slipped through the cracks in my memory.