October 10th, 2018
Gamble Spring Canyon Mm 545 to HWY 138 mm 517.5, then ride to Weeville Market and Grill
Distance: 27.5 miles
0605 – 1500
I was typing up my blog in the morning dark, as usual, when Stellar came by and whispered into my tent that we should probably get a head start to ensure that there would be water left at the next cache. With 8 of us at camp and a few more just ahead and behind, he had a point. I laughed to myself that going southbound was suddenly starting to be competitive…but not really.
I packed faster than usual and was on the trail by 6 am. Stellar and Salty had already left but the rest were still packing. It’s very dark still at that time but gets light fast. It was nice to enjoy the sunrise over the desert. We had to walk across a portion of the Mojave today. It is notoriously hot and windy, so many walk it at night. There was no need for such measures, as the temps never got too bad on this day.
I walked past more wind turbines and came to a place where sheep were grazing underneath…multi-use land. I caught up to Stellar at a water cache just at the beginning of the aqueduct. There was plenty of water for everyone, so that was good. A guy walked by going NOBO, carrying only a daypack. He didn’t come down to check out the cache and then told Kuba, who was still a mile behind, that there were only a few gallons left. Take home lesson: fearmongerers often don’t even know what they are talking about.
We began an 18 mile road walk along a capped aqueduct. It appears to be a feeder pipe that goes to the main LA aqueduct. Much of the water supplying the metropolis has to be piped in from far away, including what’s left of the Colorado river. I didn’t mind this road walk, since I got used to such conditions in NZ. There were virtually no cars and it was easy to zone out and get in a groove. The dirt road was easy on my feet. We also walked directly on the aqueduct for a bit, just to say that we had.
It started to get a little hot in the afternoon but by then, a nice breeze started to blow. I didn’t even need my umbrella. Though it was useful during breaks, since there was no shade along the way. The only disappointment was that I didn’t see any Green Mojave rattlesnakes, which are apparently quite aggressive and venomous. Oh well.
We made it to the highway and a place called Hikertown by 3 pm. It is a collection of buildings made to look like an old western town. Having grown up near a western theme park called Buckskin Joe’s, I was somewhat unimpressed with this little place. It’s capitalizing off its proximity to the PCT by renting bungalows and selling some resupplies…not that there’s anything wrong with that. It was like a tourist trap, but for hikers. It appeared mostly shut down for the season.
We didn’t need resupplies, but were interested in real food. We called a number for the owner of the convenience store and grill about 10 miles down the road. He came to pick up Stellar, Kuba, Salty and me. We all got burgers and shared a 6-pack. The owner said we could camp for free in the nice, grassy plot next to the store and they even had free hot showers. Sold!
He could also give us a ride back to the trail early, after we got huge breakfast burritos the next morning, of course. We got to hang out inside until they closed at 9 pm, using the wifi, buying stuff, and staying warm. All the staff were super friendly and accommodating. The best were the many and elaborate Halloween decorations inside the store. We all posed with the huge werewolf. Who knew a convenience store could be so entertaining?
It’s hard to tell the difference between Hikertrash and a werewolf…Salty especially bears a striking resemblance.
At bedtime, I worried that I might not sleep well. The place was right on the busy highway with lots of truck noise. But with my full stomach and earplugs, I slept just fine. I highly recommend a stop by this place!
Kuba is good with pets.