Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pacific Crest Trail 2009 ~ Part 6

From the gracious hospitality of Agua Dulce, we re-engaged ourselves to the chaparral country on route to Tehachapi, California. For many, the next stop was just a day's hike to the infamous Anderson's abode. While the Saufley's were known for providing rest, peace, and comfort; the Anderson's were known for their major partying scene. Stacey and I opted to miss the women's naked mud wrestling event of the century. The photos we saw later from other hikers truly showed a raging party that was equal or greater to most college raves. For each their own. We decided to just enjoy the quietude of the night's sky.

From the ridge-lines above the desert floor, we hit the major water caches, avoiding the wildlife guzzlers filled with debris and rodent droppings. Running dry and having found an empty cache a half a day's hike back, we finally arrived at a fire water tank where one lifts the lid and dips into this major sustenance of life. Hiking the California deserts give one an appreciation for this liquid gold. One never does look at piped water the same way again.

On the trail, one sees that everyone has a different methodology for purifying water. We personally carried a visine bottle filled with bleach. For every liter of water, we would add two drops of chlorine. However, for the entire 2,650 mile journey, we only used a half a bottle between the two of us. Overall, we did not treat our water unless we took water from creeks, rivers, or tanks at lower elevations. In the high country, we drank straight from the springs where water bubbled out fresh from the filtered earth. If we knew the water wasn't coming from lakes, we would even drink water that had been traveling down from the mountaintops for a distance of a mile or so.

The next perceived legendary hurdle for this amazing trek is to cross the low lands of the Mojave desert following the Los Angeles Aqueduct. However, just before reaching the California Aqueduct, one usually opts a stop at the Old West styled "Hiker Town." This shady sanctuary is owned by a Hollywood Producer with credentials for movies such as the Wild Bunch. Many western props from old movies fill the rooms of this miniaturized town where hikers can sleep in a jail or in the local Hotel. I borrowed a bike and cruised down the highway for cold drinks and snacks. The owner gave us a tour and fixed us some dinner before we continued our hike into the evening hours to avoid the extreme heat of the desert sun.

Joyfully, thunderstorms were clapping merrily across the desert giving us additional cover from the direct sunlight. We joyfully walked into the late evening hours following the paved aqueduct without using flashlights, the stars lighting our way.

In the morning we arrived at a water fountain that was tapped into the untreated aqueduct. It was amazing how many people truly feared this section of the trail. We even heard of hikers skipping this region.

As we climbed up to the ridge-line on our final approach to Tehachapi, a couple from the deep south were looking down at the valley below. Stacey and I were commenting at how beautiful it looked. They looked at us bewildered, saying that this was truly the ugliest place they have ever seen. We certainly felt sorry for these people, because from our eyes, they were therefore only seeing ugliness in themselves. Everything has the spark of life.

Traversing the windmill farms above the towns of Mojave and Tehachapi, we finally arrived to the southern terminus of the Sierra Nevada's. This was a turning point in one's mind. It was time to mentally prepare for the high snow country which would begin at Kennedy Meadows 140 miles to the north. As well as enjoying two days off at a motel, we sent a package of food ahead to our next stop that would take us into John Muir Country.


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