Thursday, April 25, 2019 – 8.20 miles
I haven’t flipflopped on a trail before and wasn’t sure how I would feel about it, but it feels exciting! Like starting a new hike. Leaving the hotel early this morning, I waited 45 minutes before being picked up by a truck driver who hadn’t heard of the PCT. The trail began with a road walk, then switchbacked up towards a wind farm. Not nice nature scenery, but seeing the variety of wind turbines was interesting.
Along the trail, I noticed books wrapped in plastic bags and weighed down by painted rocks. I wondered whether they might be marathon props, since I remembered that in the Barkley Marathons participants are required to tear pages out of books as evidence of reaching waypoints. I found out that I was right when I saw a ‘Mojave Marathon’ sign at the third green rock. Is the marathon soon? People run in this heat? Most importantly, would the aid stations have given me treats like last year?
The wind farm went on and on. eTrails says ‘The US wind turbine industry was pioneered here in the 1980s by a number of small companies’ and there were interesting informational signs at Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road. The PCT Water Report lists a cache at the road – I saw five gallons; at Cameron Canyon Road there were less than four.
When I arrived at Oak Creek Canyon, seven gallons or so were sitting within a pool of empty bottles beneath a picnic table. Since the trail climbs steadily up from the canyon, gaining almost 3000 feet before reaching the PCT’s highest point in the Tehachapi Mountains in nine miles, I decided to make camp rather than climb in the heat of the afternoon. I met two section hikers heading SOBO and a handful of thru-hikers heading NOBO. I hadn’t expected so many NOBOs to have reached this area already. I talked with one guy at the picnic table for most of the afternoon; he was blazing through the miles. I suppose there are Swiss youths who can’t jog easily up a 90-degree slope, but I’ve never met any.