Finally we can update our blog! Sorry for the silence but wi-fi is scarce out here in the back country!
After a quick breakfast and pack up at Sawmill campground, we head out to our next water supply. We had camped with a guy who was fascinated with the fact that we come from South Africa, and he decided to walk with us for the morning, asking us many questions about our country and heritage. We’ve unfortunately been struggling with our feet again, my new shoes have been giving me blisters, which we expected, and both my plantar fascia have been very tight in the mornings. I was especially slow that morning as we were going uphill and my patient husband walked behind me making sure I was alright.
Finally we got to a water trough and got water about 4.5 miles in, we sat in the shade to rest our feet and have a snack. We were debating what to do about the Mojave desert ahead of us and when the best time would be to cross it. We initially thought we would have a short day and camp at the next water. We’d then hike the following day to Hiker Town, which is just before the desert, and spend the afternoon there and head out into the desert that night. But plans change. We headed out to have lunch at our next water supply, and after another 5 miles, we stopped to get out of the midday sun and have our lunch. While we were eating, we had a good view of the Mojave desert, and noticed some thunder clouds forming above the mountains behind it. Slowly, the clouds got darker and started raining. The rain was making its way over the desert. We figured that it would be awesome if we could cross some of the desert with cooler weather, so we decided to push to hiker town that afternoon, have dinner there and hike into the night. This was no easy task. It was 20 miles to hiker town from where camped. And the rain that looked so nice only managed to very gently drizzle on us before getting super hot again.
Eventually we got there, and with very painful feet and tired legs. I wanted to sleep there and hike in the morning but Steve convinced me that we needed to hike that night to get at least a few miles done. Crossing the Mojave is incredibly hot there is hardly any shade. There was a bridge with water and shade 16 miles in, so we decided to try to do a few miles and make it easier the next morning. We had a 3 hour break, in which we put our feet up, showered and ate dinner. We set off with our friends Storytime and Dirty Paws, put our head torches on and started walking. They hike quickly, and went off ahead of us but we soon caught up with them after 5 miles to find them doing yoga and stretches. We decided 5 miles was enough and found a flat bit of sand to cowboy camp. By this time it was 11:30 PM and we had done 25 miles! What a day!
Steve woke me up at 3:15am the next morning (I was not happy) and we reluctantly got up and started another long day. The PCT follows the Los Angeles aqueduct for quite a long section of the Mojave, which is not great for the feet as it’s completely flat with hard ground. The one thing I enjoyed was seeing Joshua trees, they are fascinating and beautiful. It’s amazing how much quicker you can walk when its chilly outside, we made our way to our lunch spot 10 miles ahead. By the time we got there it had warmed up substantially and we were desperate for some shade and a good break. Along with water, we found some cherry Pepsi, what a treat. There were a few other hikers there, and we all spread out our sleeping pads in the shade and had a nap. After the desert started to cool down (the wind had picked up, which helped), we made our way through the wind farm, and started a long uphill to our next water source at mile 542. It was a long, windy section and not much happened, but we were very relieved to get out of the desert and we camped at a small creek. At this stage we were feeling exhausted by the lack of sleep, the heat and the long days of hiking.
The next morning we had planned to wake up early to try do the next uphill in the cool of the morning, but that didn’t go as planned. We started off a little late, and started a long, difficult uphill towards Tehachapi. About 10 miles in, we found some shade to sit in. Suddenly I realized I wasn’t feeling well, I felt nauseous and my vision went weird. All I could tell Steve was that I didn’t feel well, and passed out in my hands. Steve was trying to give me water, but I couldn’t respond to him and finally managed to tell him I needed to lie down urgently. He quickly put his sleeping pad down for me, and I lay down slowly recovering from a suspected drop in low blood pressure. After I felt better, I ate something and drank lots of water, we didn’t have an option but to keep going to Tehachapi. We were almost done with the uphill but it was hot and windy, but we found a lovely surprise near the top of our climb… A water cache with chairs! We drank as much as we could and set off again. We just had 8 miles left to mile 558, where we could hitch into town, and I was desperate to get there so I could rest. I took the lead and we didn’t stop walking until we got there.
We had barely gotten to the road when a car drove past, it quickly stopped, did a u-turn and drove directly to us and a young man asked us if we needed a lift into Tehachapi. We quickly agreed and got in. We started talking to our driver and quickly learned that Ben was a rocket scientist! How often does that happen? We asked him where we could get wi-fi to organize a place to stay and he suggested we just stay with him and he had great wi-fi. Sounded like a good deal, and we went out for dinner at his favorite place and had an amazing sleep on his sleeper couch, and managed to do some laundry too. Thanks Ben for the great company, conversations and awesome trail angel-ing!
We had a wonderful zero in Tehachapi, hanging out in the bakery most of the day and got to catch up with our friends Bison, Storytime and Dirty Paws. We did a resupply and contacted another trail angel, Cathy, who offers her home to hikers. We spent the next night there and spent the evening chatting to her family and had the most amazing home cooked meal of pork fillet and home baked bread. We had a good rest recovering from the Mojave and the next afternoon we got a lift back to the trail to start our last section of the desert! We cannot wait to get to Kennedy Meadows!