Mile 558: Willow Springs Road

Mile 558 found me at one of the windiest sections I’ve been in. I’ve just crossed the first section of the Tehachapi Mountains, and 24 miles of the Mojave desert. When I arrived at Willow Springs Road, I checked my email as I normally do on the Kindle. Unfortunately I got some news that had to cut my trip short, I’ve actually been back in SA for awhile now, and found a fragment of time to finish this off.

I left Agua Dulce around noon, after spending some time updating this blog and chatting to friends and family. 2 days of rest can take a toll on momentum and i found the hiking quite tough. However the scenery was fairly pleasant, apart from there being a fair number of burnt areas the North facing sides of the hills led me through nice cover. The day wasn’t particularly hot, but it was a pleasant change  from what I’m used to. I only covered 14 miles that day to a very windy and exposed camp-site on a ridge, that left my tent sopping wet in the morning (I assume a cloud drifted through during the night…).

The next day was similar, mindless ups and downs, nothing really of note. It was one of those days that i just had to get through. The last few miles had a 1000 foot climb. There’s 2 types of climbs, the nasty convex (Start steep finish flat) and the concave (start flat, end steep). As you can guess the nasty ones are the concave ones. Luckily I had the former, after 800 feet it flattened out into a gentle climb and traverse along a wide ridge. That night I stumbled into an unused and overgrown Boy Scouts Trail Camp, thought of making a fire, instead I just collapsed in my tent from another slog-a-thon.

The next day I followed the ridge I’d climbed onto the previous day, going up and down, mindlessly. The last water I topped up my supplies from was a cache at the bottom of the climb I did the day before. The next water I found came in the form of a ‘guzzler’. This particular guzzler was a covered concrete tank (~200l) with a large concrete pan to collect the water. With many pine trees around, the acidic needles had turned the water a very luminous yellow. Even after filtering the water, it had a slight yellow tinge, and tasted distinctly of pine needles.

During the day and when I’m fairly sure of water up ahead i generally only carry around one litre of water, this allows me to be lighter on my feet and cover the miles faster, and keep going longer. With a light pack, every litre makes a large difference in added weight.

The rest of the morning and through noon, took me along the south and top of the ridge, so it was fairly hot and exposed. The main highlight of this day was that I’d been hiking for 30 days, and was crossing the 500 mile mark. A significant milestone in my quest for Canada. That afternoon took me onto the north side of the ridge, and took me through some nicely shaded forests and was really enjoyable. The main downside was the lovely view onto the Mojave, which I would soon cross 2 days later.

I spent the night before I got to Hiker-town at mile 510 (just 8 miles shy of hiker-town). Camping here enabled me to hike the 8 miles and get there early and chat to family and friends and enjoy the trail angels facility’s. Hiker-town is another trail angel spot that allow hikers (for a small “donation”) to stay for the night in their movie set like rooms. The don’t require building permits if the said building is from a movie set, or something like that.

I left hiker-town around 4am on the 4th of May. Why did I leave at 4am? Well i had roughly 24 miles of Mojave desert to get through with no chance of water during said 24 miles. I ended up walking 17.5 miles to a dry creek bed, and slept for 3 hours underneath the bridge that crossed it. The last 6.5 miles to the flowing creek, where I would camp, was certainly the windiest of the whole hike and I found it fairly tough walking into a steady head wind.

The final day of my hike took me up into the Tehachapi Mountains. It was a fairly easy stretch up 2000 feet in the early morning and along a ridge that took me down to mile 558, a easy 17 mile stretch that got me there at around 2pm.

So this unfortunately is the last post i’ll be making for a while. I hope to return to the PCT one day but my 2012 attempt is over. I have the means to go back and finish, but I know that for me this isn’t an option. All of the photos should be published soon under my gallery and you can follow this link.

One Comments

  • annamarie

    July 2, 2012

    I am so sorry to read that you could not continue with your trip, good luck with your future journey.

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