Day 41 – 5/23/15
.5 before Golden Oaks Spring
Miles – 16.2
Total Miles – 607.2 (PCT 582.6)
We woke up this morning to partially sunny skies. No rain like yesterday morning. It was a lazy, slow morning getting ready to get back on the trail. There was not much to do since we got most everything done yesterday.
Since it was Saturday, there was only one morning bus back to the trail and it did not leave until 9:28, so we had a little bit of waiting to do. Of course the bus was late. We finally started to hike at 10:30.
Our next water was in 17 miles. With such a late start we knew we would not make it all the way to the water source, although we would try to get as close as possible. This section is the driest section on the PCT. Every water source will be 17 to 20 miles apart with one section being a dreaded 31 miles. Our main objective, for the next 8 days, is to get to the next water source.
The trail went right next to Hwy 58 for several miles and then it turned away and headed up hill. We climbed 2500′ in about 4 miles. This would not normally be that hard but we have a full load of water and 8 days of food. Our packs were extra heavy! To make matters worst, we have not hiked in four days. They were necessary days off for the weather to clear and for Mama Raven’s feet to heal. However, when you take a long break it is hard to get hiking again. Your body just does not want to go. Nonetheless, we hiked up to the top of our next set of mountains. The trail then did what it always does. It goes from mountain top to the next mountain top crossing at a gap and trying to stay as high as it can and working it’s way back along the range. As we got to the top, the wind came up. It was a strong and terribly cold wind. Many times Papa Raven had to hold Little Crow’s pack to keep her from being pushed off the trail. Often times even Papa Raven and I were pushed off the trail too. The four of us staggered on and off the trail as we hiked up the mountain. One gust was so strong that it knocked over one of the people we were hiking with. Even as this is being written, the wind is blowing strong over the ridge, but tonight we have some protection by some trees. With the cold temperatures (40°) and strong winds we had today, we are so glad we decided to stay the extra day in the hotel to wait out the bad weather. The conditions would have been miserable yesterday to come up to the higher elevations. Yesterday we felt guilty for taking another day off, but today that guilt is replaced with relief.
After reaching the top, the trail worked its way back along the mountain range. We made some distance between us and the Mojave Desert. We are hoping by pulling away from the desert, the wind will lesson. We have only one mile to the next water. We will be there first thing tomorrow morning to fill up. The next water after that is 19 miles away. There is no water to waste, not even for washing socks. It will be nice to get to the Sierras where water will not be an issue. While we had dinner tonight, we were visited by Laura and Darrin (aka Sunnyside Up and Over Easy), who we have not seen in three weeks. We were happy to see them again. Sunnyside Up (Laura) had to take some time off for an injury to her feet. Hopefully she is healthy enough to keep going on. Also Gi Gi caught up with us while we had dinner. We had not seen her for three weeks either. We bumped into her in the hotel in Tehachapi. Her husband came down from Northern California to take her away to Las Vegas for a few days. It was good to see our friends again.
Day 36 – 5/18/15
On a ridge heading down toward Tiger Tank
Miles – 20.4
Total Miles – 577.7 (PCT 553.2)
The wind blew most of the night but the tents were in a location that was shielded from most of the wind. As we left our camp, the wind hit us full force. The wind was blowing down out of the Tehachapi mountains and out into the desert. I have a hunch it is always windy like this, because there are hundreds of windmills around us. We hiked for 8 miles to Tylerhorse Creek and almost the whole time we were pushed around by the wind. It takes 10 miles for the PCT to pass through the windmill farm. There are several hundreds of these giant windmills. They are 350′ high with the props stretching even higher. They are constantly spinning creating a loud wind storm sound. Some have a high pitch whistle sound, while others moan and groan as if in agony. One of our favorite things about the desert is how absolutely quiet it is however with so many windmills around us, it is far from quiet.
We at last left the windmill farm and entered Tylerhorse Canyon where the wind let up. Tylerhorse Creek is the last water for 24 miles so we filtered all we needed. The water in the creek was warm but it is better than nothing. At the small creek, a hiker named Mike (aka Smokey) joined us. We have not seen him in weeks. We first met him the first day on the trail. He had to get off the trail for a short time because his wife got sick. She is fine now and Smokey is back on the PCT.
From the canyon, we headed up into the Tehachapi mountains. We climbed back up to over 5000′. Mama Raven’s feet were hurting across the balls of the foot. She had loosened her laces as much as she could, but the shoes were still to tight. At lunch we took the next step and cut her shoes so the toe box would open up more. We are hoping this will help, but it is to soon to tell. Her feet are hurting badly.
The rest of the day we worked our way up into the mountains. In the late afternoon we came upon a water cache, I guess I did not have to carry all the extra water from Tylerhorse Creek. The water cache also had several chairs for the hikers to enjoy. Therefore, we decided to have dinner here before heading down. Smokey showed up and had his dinner too. After dinner we started down toward Tehachapi. The wind had come up again and we wanted to get low enough to get out of it. Well that did not work. As I write this, my head is holding up our tent. A peg has been pulled out by the wind, again. It will be a long night.
Day 23 5/5/15
Before the high power lines before Cajon Pass
Total Miles – 355.7 (PCT 338.1)
The wind blew most of the night, but it let up a little before dawn. We took our time getting going. We have about 23 mikes to a McDonald’s at Cajon Pass and we want to get there mid morning tomorrow. The hiking was easy all day. There were very few ups, but for the most part, the trail just contoured around the mountains.
Around lunch we got to Silverwood Lake. It is a large dammed lake, fed from the Colorado River. We first walked below the dam itself, then we went into a yard where they had some huge water pipes. We could not resist playing in them. When I stood inside of one of them, I extended my hiking pole and I could just barely touch the top. In guessing, their size, they had a diameter of about 12′. The pipes had the best echo. The kids had fun making all sorts of sounds. After leaving the supply yard, we hiked up to the lake. To my surprise, it was full, unlike most other lakes in California after four years of a draught. We had 4 miles of hiking around the lake to get to the picnic area which had water, bathrooms, and trash. During the four mile hike around the lake two hikers passed us we had not seen in a while. They are a young couple we first bumped into around the Laguna Mountains. I am uncertain of their names. They both hike in sandals. He wears his hair in pony tail high up on his head. They described themselves as nine to five hikers. They get up late and go to bed early. Nonetheless, they hike very fast! When Mama Raven saw them for the first time, she said they needed the trail name of Pebbles and Bam Bam. When they passed us at Silverwood Lake they wanted us too know they had accepted Pebbles and Bam Bam as their official trail name. Mama Raven was happy over the news.
After sitting and relaxing at the lake for a while, we hit the trail again. The miles rolled by easily. In the late afternoon the wind came up. We hiked up onto some ridges and the wind hit us hard. The gusts were so strong that Joon and I were pushed off the trail. I tried to steady Joon as she walked. It was kinda fun! As we headed down the far side of the mountain the wind let up a bit. The only flat place we could find was right under some high power lines. Mama Raven said she hopes they do not do anything weird to us. The sun is almost down and we are only four miles from McDonalds. We will be there for breakfast. Several hikers passed us with only one thing on their minds . . .food. They will be getting in well after dark. If we pushed the kids that last little bit, nobody would be happy!
Day 22 – 5/4/15
In the middle of nowhere
Miles – 18.8
Total Miles – 335.6 (PCT 318.0)
It was a quite night with very little wind. Again, everyone slept well and no one wanted to get up. When the sun hit our tent we stated to get going. It was not long before we were on the trail.
Today was an easy day of hiking. The trail follows Deep Creek until it dumps out into the Mojave Desert, after about 15 miles. Mid morning we stopped to pump water and wash socks. It was a nice shady spot a little ways from the trail. We were able to also clean the pan after last nights dinner. Since there has been very little water on the trail, more often than not, we have to cook dinner in the previous nights dirty pot. There simply is no water for the luxury to clean the cooking pot or eating utensils! A clean pot to cook in is a real treat! After the chores were done, we headed back to the trail and the sun. The trail quickly headed up a ridge. Will was looking back at the small pond above were we got water and he saw a Black Bear. It was just heading down to the riverbed. I knew that there were bears in these mountains but I had never seen one.
Hours later we came to the Deep Creek Hot Springs. We were hoping no one was there so the kids could play in the hot springs. The hot springs is a popular location for the locals who live near by. Most who come to the springs take the “clothing optional” to heart. There were about 20 people there, all in different states of dress. We hiked on. Several miles later we came to the Rainbow Bridge and found a quiet location by the river. Will and Joon had fun trying to catch fish and Bull Frog pollywogs in Joon’s hat. Our granola was used as bait. To our surprise, the fish actually liked the oatmeal, however, they did not like the almonds. They would go for the almonds but they would immediately spit them out! Unfortunately, Will and Joon did not have any luck catching fish but they had a lot of fun trying.
Towards the end of the day, we finally hiked out of Deep Creek Canyon and across the Mojave Forks Dam. Why this dam is here, I’m not sure? It is very large and there is no water behind it. In fact on the side of the dam where there should be a lake, it has 30′ Cottonwoods growing in it. I’m not sure if it has ever had water in it. As we exited the canyon, a really cold, strong wind came up. We were being blown from side to side and large dust devils twisted around us, blowing dust and sand in our faces.
We hiked on and as the sun was almost down we found a place to camp. It is somewhat protected from the wind. I have already had to go outside and put tent pegs back in after they came out from a strong gust of wind. I hope it let’s up during the night. The tent fabric is very noisy when it blows in the wind making sleep nearly impossible!