PCT Day 55 – Golden Oaks

16.8 miles, near 583.3

• Tehachapi was a nice place to zero, but a little too spread out to be convenient to hikers. All the Uber’s or lyft rides we used were drivers just passing through, one guy driving to Vegas, another from San Jose, etc. The one local driver Amanda had the nickname “A/C Angel” and gave us 3 rides on Wednesday.

• In typical fashion, we were slow to wake up and pack up, then hit the hotel breakfast, then drove to the trailhead and started hiking just before noon, uphill right away and under the hot sun.

• There were no water sources on trail for 17 miles, so I had 4.5 liters to last me the whole day until we made it to camp. Coming off a rest day (or 4), this extra weight is especially brutal.

• Much of the trail today was forest road walking, crisscrossing OHV trails, dodging big ruts and potholes.

• Since we started the trail so late, we hiked past the evening and into the night. We passed some big windmills at sunset, the full moon shining bright behind the giant turbines.

• We exited the forest and had a wonderful overlook of a big valley to the north with different layers of mountains stacked behind, illuminated by the orange glow of the sunset.

• There was a bright set of lights way off in the distance of the desert, setup in a square formation, maybe a prison or airfield?

• My left ear has been plugged all day, no amount of yawning or chewing can return it to normal. Annoying, but hoping it sorts itself out when I lay down to sleep.

• We had about 2 miles to cover in the dark, hiking on a ridge with steep slopes above and below us. We are always looking for snakes on the trail, but especially on high alert for mountain lions at night. Twice we stopped in our tracks at sudden movement above us, but both were just deer, giving us the spooks.

• We finally made it to the spring, where we needed to fill up on water and find a spot to camp. The ground around the spring was littered with tents and cowboy campers. This is one major disadvantage to night hiking, getting last pick for tent sites and not knowing if there will even be any room. Fortunately there was more room above the spring on an old dirt road.

• I forgot to back flush the gravity filter I used from before arriving in tehachapi, so the 4 liters of clear water I filled up at the spring to filter was really sluggish to start, and every time I flipped the bags to back flush, the water got a little murkier from all the dirt stuck in the filter.

• The other bummer about getting to camp so late is having to boil water and cook food. It takes a while and it should be something to look forward to, but all we usually want to do is setup the tent and sleep. Tonight we were finally able to crawl into our sleeping bags around midnight.

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