Day 24: Boots on the ground…

Date: Wednesday, June 24th 2016

Miles: 573.3 – 592.9

Remote Camp 573.3 – Remote Camp 592.9

After all of the feelings of nervousness, it felt really good to be back on the trail this morning. I woke up to the sound of some distant bugs going about their morning business, as well as the dawn chorus of birdsong just finishing its final encore. There was no wind this morning, and the air smelled clean and fresh in the cool morning hours. I can do this. This is good.

The trail in the morning wandered between pleasant green scrub and followed the alignment of an OHV (off-highway vehicle) trail for quite a few miles. The terrain was bone dry but looking to the west you could see towards signs of life in Tehachapi and some ranches, whilst to the east you could see into the Mojave with ridges and stumpy mesas into the distance. There was incredible numbers of Cicadas in the trees, their defending shrill was an incredible sound to add to the mornings routine!

My target today was the first large spring on the route at Golden Oaks Spring. It appeared to have cover and neatly fit around half way along my intended mileage. The trail would traverse an older wind-farm and a number of high dry and barren meadows before a series of interesting switchbacks on a high tide of white rocks.

I arrived to the spring before noon and was pretty happy with the mornings progress. I lay out my pad to rest on and enjoyed the afternoons comings and goings as a huge variety of birds, bugs, a deer, snakes and some random furry friends (squirrels and  chipmunks) swung by.

The trail was quiet and I had not seen anyone since leaving Tehachapi Pass. By 3pm I figured there wouldn’t be anybody else that day as it was too hot to hike. I was of course proven wrong as around 3:30, Diego, aka Kitchen Sink swung into my little animal observation post wearing nothing but a pair of underpants and sweating profusely. “Oy Es HOT”. Kitchen Sink is a well known character at this point, starting with a 90lb pack and now hauling about 60lb after some pack shakedown attempts. We talked for some time as he setup his kit, washed and cleaned gear and generally filled the place with some extra energy. He grew up in Peru and then Chicago and most recently worked as a chef in Key West, FL.

Around 4 I decided it was time to venture further. Taking some final water from the busy spring, I walked a little further and met another inbound snake coming for a drink!

After leaving the spring, the trail entered another wind farm. The ridges and views were different from before with green forest and high outcrops in view, it was punctuated with tall yellow grasses and lots of bird life as the trail entered a number of switchbacks along a ridge in an old fire burn area. The views were beautiful as the sun started to glow in the west.

I saw some deer and further signs of ranches in the valleys below just before sunset. Still, the area was punctuated with wind turbines and their omnipresent flashing lights and distant swoosh sounds. By nightfall, I decided to keep adding some miles with a target of a large Meadow marked on the map. I eventually made camp around 10pm with the distant flash lamp of another hiker following in the distance. After making up my camp, Kitchen Sink passed by, he decided he wanted to break his record and make 33 miles so he was keeping rolling. Happy with my progress and my little homestead in the Meadow, I happily hopped into bed and called it a day.

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