Pacific Crest Trail (2019) 42: Most Important

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.

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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?

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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.

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