Day: Saturday, June 4th 2016
Miles: 550.95 – 558.6
Remote Camp 550.95 – 558.6 Willow Springs Road
I had a strong desire to put off the inevitable this morning. The end of this three amazing weeks on the trail and a return to the real world for two weeks of work. I didn’t get on my feet as quickly as I hoped I would as a result. In fact to say I dragged my feet is an understatement. There was no sign of the ants, onto which I had erected my abode last night, and the sunrise really was quite something. So I made my porridge and I took my time. I could afford to. For the first time on the trail, I opted not to keep a grueling push going, as I had only 7miles to do this morning. Momentarily, civilization, with all its conveniences, laundry, personal hygiene and food options would be mine.
I was passed by three solo hikers and two groups as I decamped. Everyone seemed to have a new found spring in their step. I think everyone had the same idea in their heads – showers and food! Tehachapi is a large town about 8miles north of the trail and would provide all the hiker needs (in my case public transit). The slow sunrise was beautiful, as if to remind me one last time as to what I would be missing for the next two weeks.
The highway to Tehachapi was a sure bet for a ride (or so I was told), and as I turned towards the parking lot I saw a sign on the ground “Coppertone here ->”. Immediately presuming a trail angel had left sun cream, I remarked that it was some odd trail magic but magic is magic! When I entered the carpark I saw a large van and realized that Coppertone was the trail name of its owner, an interesting guy who had lived around the world and now followed the hikers along the PCT for a time, dealing out trail magic and helping the community. There was a bunch of other hikers eating apples and pie and hanging out in the welcome shade from Coppertones van.
Given there was a large group, we took turns at hitching, obviously the chances of anyone getting a ride drop precipitously as you add more hitchers to an area. Myself and my new friends from Nebraska and Washington managed to grab a ride from Tony, the self professed “lawnmower guy around here”. He brought us into town and gave us a little tour before dropping us to the hiker friendly Best Western where I had made a booking for tonight.
I must say that it was very pleasant to have my own space again, only the second bed in 3 weeks and I intended to make the most of it! I scrubbed the scrubbables and shined the shineables and generally got all of my gear (and myself) to a state of orderly cleanliness.
After the big-clean, Nebraska, Sockeye (the guy from WA) and myself headed to a Mexican up the road. When confronted by a 1 mile road walk, the intense urge to hitch couldn’t be suppressed (however it was unsuccessful).
With food and drink consumed and no more miles to do, there was one more thing on my agenda in Tehachapi, so I spent some time hanging out at the hot tub and shared a beers with a hiker from Louisiana. All sorts, hiking with all sorts. It seemed like a nice wind down to an incredible 3 weeks. The desert is nearly done. And in 2 weeks time I’ll be back to conquer the mighty Sierra Nevada, with all the new challenges of elevation and climate that brings!