PCT Day 42

May 24, 2019

Mile 517.6 to mile 541.5, 23.9 PCT miles, no off trail miles

Running total: 567.3

I was told we were leaving at 0630 to return to the trailhead, which I then realized meant we were leaving closer 7- apparently I take a little extra time to pack up?
Miraculously I was ready to go 5 minutes before 7, but Big Momma ordered pancakes and it all went downhill from there! Matt and I helped her finish them, then I did some last minute shopping, then I called my parents- and while Arc and Big Momma hopped in the next shuttle back to the trailhead, I found even more things to do around Wee Vill.
By 0830 Matt and I were back at Hikertown and ready to start walking.

Today was the dreaded LA aqueduct day- miles upon miles (an estimated 17?) of walking on flat land/cement OVER the LA aqueduct through the Mojave desert with no water access for 18 miles!! Historically people opt to cover this section overnight to avoid the high temps (90’s-100’s!), blazing sun, and lack of shade & water. Weeks ago Matt and I had talked about night hiking through the Mojave section, and yet today we tackled it in the middle of the day! We were blessed with temps in the 60’s-70’s with partly cloudy skies and a nice, cool breeze for the entire day!

Before hitting the aqueduct we walked through a beautiful meadow

And then…the aqueduct. You can only actually see the water in the first little section

And then, pipes.

And then, cement.

I could totally see how the aqueduct section plays mind games with people- first, it’s completely flat, which is a nice change from the climbs and descents for, like, 5 miles- BUT, after miles upon miles of the same, flat terrain with the same cement road, it can get very monotonous. Then, add in the heat and water factor: typically you’re walking in 100° temps under the blistering sun with no shade for respite (hence the sun umbrellas we have carried for over 500 miles and never used!!), AND you’re bloody thirsty but can only humanly carry so much water- and you can HEAR the friggin water underneath you but can’t get to it! I’d go mad!

Thank goodness for beautiful views…

Even with the amazing temps and occasional clouds, I felt like I was sleep walking. I was psyched when Big Momma texted to coordinate a break spot- Matt and I had 1.7 miles to go before second breakfast/first lunch!

After what felt like forever, we finally happened upon Big Momma and Arc lounging in the sun. Big Momma was living my dream, laying down and surrounded by all of the snacks!

While Big Momma and Arc started up, Matt and I stuck around a bit longer to figure out lodging for Tehachapi- we planned to be there the next night, and between expected bad weather Sunday and it being Memorial Day weekend, rooms were booking up fast! We quickly booked one of the last options for 5 people (Joe Dirt was gonna join us!), then carried on.
Part of the aqueduct follows next to a dirt road- a few cars passed by, but as one white car slowed I got excited for the prospect of trail magic! But alas, it was a man trying to convert us to Jehovah’s Witness. Matthew accepted a pamphlet. So much for ultralight, Matthew!
People leave notes in the sand for their friends. We likes this one ’cause we know both people mentioned!
I was beginning to slack, as I do in the afternoons, when we came across a sign: water and Gatorade!! Ice cold Gatorade restored my energy and kept a little pep in my step while we carried on.

Marcel and Jannis

Another car soon passed and slowed. Disheartened from Mr. Jehovah’s Witness I didn’t think much of it, but it turns out the man was checking to make sure we had enough water! He was also wondering if the trail magic was out yet- he was bringing more ice for the cooler! He asked how our hike was going and offered us a beer before carrying on.

The Joshua Trees were so cool! And we officially completed 20% of the trail!

We met up with Arc, Big Momma, and others (including Joe Dirt, Chief Lizard, Bambi, & Uno Socko- who looks so much like my cousin John that he started answering to “Cousin John”) for second lunch at our first water source of the day. It was a welcomed break before the last 6.6 miles of the day, which included about 2000ft of elevation gain. In talking to everybody at the water source, most people were planning to camp where we had wanted to, where according to our app there were only enough spots for 5 tents…this was gonna get interesting!!

The beginning of the climb was so gradual that we didn’t even realize we were gaining elevation! The sun took up permanent residence behind a cloud but it never got cold, which was a very welcomed change! For the past few days(weeks?) anytime we lost sun we nearly lost feeling in our phalanges from the cold!!

The last 2 miles were pretty steep, but we were rewarded with beautiful views…and as we neared the canyon we planned to camp in, views of a ton of tents below! I saw a spec that resembled Arc, so from above I called out to her asking if there was room for us. With the thumbs up, we finished up the day with a descent down into the canyon with Big Momma, rolling into camp around 7:15pm.

Turns out the only sites still available were massive ant hills, so we decided to set up camp in a mostly-dry riverbed. We prayed for no flash-floods, ate dinner in our tents, and zzzz.

Happiness is: the weather finally working out in our favor!!

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