The first night I spent at the McIvers cabin, one of only a few shelters on the PCT. It appears to be primarily used by hunters, but I had it to myself, along with a bubbling stream.
On my third day into this section I got on the trail early, bundled up against the cold and strong wind, which was more a jumble of gusts than anything more organized. Rushing past my clothing, the wind took over my senses. In that seemingly barren desert, I was aware only of wind, sand, and a few struggling shrubs and stubby Joshua trees. Then as the day lightened, as though on a separate soundtrack, the birds started to sing, and I was reminded again that "Nature is never spent," and there is no part of this trail untouched by beauty.
This was one of the more challenging sections that I have hiked so far, with 13,484 feet of elevation gain and 14,862 feet of elevation loss. In other words you are either going up or down 90 percent of the time. It was also very windy, with gusts of up to 40 mph, which is strong enough to make most hikers weave like drunks.
There weren't too many people on this section of the trail yet. It seemed to me that it was mostly the ultralight superfast hikers, with trail names like Roadrunner, and the super strong outdoors people with more substantial gear, who nevertheless exuded complete ease and carried trail names like Happy Feet and Breeze. I was again able to provide plenty of contrast to these athletes, as I am still building up my hiking stamina and speed.
|Trail Gorillas Bill and Gerry|
On the second day I met some of the Trail Gorillas, which is the volunteer group that maintains the first 704 miles of the trail. For example, this group clears trees that have fallen across the trail and fixes areas that have washed out due to storms. Without the Trail Gorillas and the other volunteer groups, the PCT might not even be able to survive, because the maintenance needs of such a long trail are staggering. Pick-Axe-Pete asked me to send the location and diameter for every downed tree I found and I came up with a list of 68 trees in the next 50 miles. He replied quickly that he would add my list to their database and they would be deleted as they were cleared up.
On the third night, I had pitched my tent at Landers Camp and was joined about an hour later by another solo hiker, Lost Lori, who confided that she had discovered that she disliked camping alone. We hiked together for the remainder of the section and it was a nice contrast to my usual solitude.
Arriving at the junction of the PCT with Highway 58 I was amazed and delighted to find a photocopied list of trail angels who would give rides into Tehachapi. After only a few calls, a woman named Patty agreed to pick us up, took us to the post office, and then dropped me at my hotel. At times the PCT community feels magical, and this sense is only heightened by sore feet.
Here is a link to the photos from this section https://goo.gl/photos/ggBNfpiYRoXud9jt7