October 4th, 2018
Mm 673 to Walker Pass mm 652
Distance: 21 miles
0620 – 1830
I woke up in a fog, not speaking figuratively but literally. It hadn’t rained overnight but everything was damp and the peaks were all enshrouded by clouds. I rolled up my tent along with half the desert that was stuck to the bottom of it. I love carrying around extra weight in detritus. I quickly hiked below the cloud line and enjoyed views of the sun hitting the peaks in the distance. The mist that was clinging to the nearby peaks reminded me of a scene from the cloud forests of Monte Verde, Costa Rica, not Southern California. But in general, these hills have been very similar to the foothills of Colorado. As such, I have enjoyed hiking through these parts very much. I feel like I am hiking around home.
The trail meandered a lot in the morning. I checked my app to see that I had already walked 6.5 miles but only gone 1.8 miles as the crow flies. I passed by some dry creeks but saw some puddles that I could get water from, were I desperate enough. I still had 2 full bottles though. Then I came to a sign for a spring, with another sign below it saying it wasn’t safe for drinking. What the hey? Comments on guthooks speculated about uranium. I passed it by.
The trail went lower, with fewer and fewer trees. I started seeing many Joshua trees, which was cool. Then there were almost no trees, just barren desert. Thankfully it was still quite cool from the morning clouds. I made it to Walker Pass around 2 pm. I had gone 31 miles and an overnight on just 3 liters of water, so I was feeling pretty good about my chances of making it 40 some miles on 4 liters. It would depend on whether it stayed cool over the next few days.
For now, I was getting off trail. Josh Addington, one of 89 graduating students in my high school class, lives in Ridgecrest and had offered to be a trail angel. He was even meeting me at the pass. When he arrived, Bella and Cuba had also rolled in. They needed to go to Lake Isabella, about 40 miles in the opposite direction. Josh graciously offered to drive them too, so we all piled into his big truck. Later, he admitted that we smelled bad, but didn’t say anything at the time. Actually, he said that he couldn’t smell me (because I am the cleanest thru-hiker ever and had just showered/laundered 2 days prior). It had been about 20 days (since Truckee) for Bella and Cuba, but who’s counting?
Then I went back to his house and met his family. He and his wife Becky have 2 kids, Katalina and Brenden. They are a wonderful family and it is so nice to see what a success story Josh has made of his life. He was that kid in school that got into a lot of trouble and could never sit still. Now he is an aircraft engineer contracted by the military. He joined the Marines just after high school and I actually ran into him in a bar in Tijuana MX, summer of 1997. I was on a Coast Guard cutter in San Diego and he was stationed in Camp Pendleton. It’s always been one of my favorite stories.
We had dinner and then I did a little babysitting while the parents attended Katalina’s concert (Josh and I were a band geeks, too). Brenden and I stayed home and played Uno. It was nice to relax in a real home with a family again.
PS: while perusing emails, I learned the full story of what happened with Jupiter’s yo-yo bid on the PCT. He is a south Florida long-distance hiker that turned some heads when he completed the Eastern Continental Trail at around 5000 miles for his first thru-hike. He had set out this year to walk the PCT, in BOTH directions, in one season AND set a speed record doing it. That would be about 5300 miles. I had expected to see him, either meeting him as he went north, or getting passed by him as he went south. But I never saw or heard any updates from him. Now I learned that he had broken his foot in 2 places and had to get off trail in the Sierra. I was sad to hear this and it made me realize how lucky I was to still be on the trail, injury-free. I just have to survive the desert now.