Day 28: Mile 534.8 to 558.0 (23.2 miles, 37.3km)
A big shoutout to the year 9/10 Outdoor Education class from Orbost Secondary College in Gippsland. The students there are following this blog as a part of their class and asking looks of great questions. Thanks gang! I love getting the comments and questions and hope to answer the all. Don’t let Mr Sykes work you too hard.
With around 5 hours sleep I was determined to put in as much distance as I could before things heated up again today.
Packed up and on the move you could tell it was going to be a scorcher with a warm wind already blowing. Most others were still in tents so I headed out alone completing the aqueduct, finally trading the concrete for actual trail.
The wind turbines were all quietly rotating away backdropped by the rising sun. Thousands of Joshua trees branching out of the ground en-mass looked amazing.
There were two climbs for the day. The first one coming quite soon and had me sweating early on. This rose to the top of a hill only to descend down the other side but the bonus was that a small trickle of water, that is meant to be a river, was flowing.
The water was shallow and to collect it required using a scoop to get enough to then fill bottles. Carrying a bit of sediment I used my buff to prefilter into my bottles to remove the large particles. Each bottle would then be filtered with my trusty Sawyer. The bonus of pre-filtering is that my buff is wet and cool when putting back on around my neck and with a little breeze helps keep you cool.
From the bottom of the creek valley the next 8 miles would be all uphill, the second climb of the day. I estimated this would take 3 hours but I didn’t factor in the heat. It took 4 hours. The last 3 miles were a long slow trudge uphill in the burning sun. I played leap frog with one girl as we each had to stop for multiple breaks on the way up. I made good use of my umbrella until it go too windy.
Reaching the top at around midday I spied several large beach umbrellas a little further on and found them to be at a water cache, the umbrellas providing much needed shade, complete with chairs and gallon water containers to make use of. I’d brought up 4 litres from the creek and had plenty so just topped up my on the go bottle.
There were around 10 others here, all new faces and none from the group I’ve been travelling with. They were all walking through the heat of the day. My plan was to continue another mile to a tree covered area, find some shade, eat, have a sleep and employ the same tactic as last night, waiting until evening to push on further.
Finding a huge shady Juniper I set myself up for a lazy afternoon of not doing much, just eating and hydrating. CousCous is here but the rest of the crew are awol, I suspect they got a later start and got stuck waiting out the heat at the bottom of the second climb.
It’s 16 miles out to the Hwy and into Tehachapi and there are a couple of tactics you could use. 1. continue and complete the 16 miles and get into town in the evening. 2. continue walking in the evening and camp, minimising the hike out the Hwy the next day and getting into town early to take advantage of a full day.
I like reaching town early and having more time to do what you need to do so that’s what I will do. CousCous will do the same. I’ve already walked 15 mile for the day so it wouldn’t take much to do another 5 and get a full 20 in for the day but I’ll probably press on further and get tomorrow’s walk out to Hwy down to less than 10 mile.
PM update: I managed to push on another 8 miles in good time in the cool of the evening. There wasn’t a lot of flat group so on reaching a road junction at mile 558 and seeing several hikers camped already I called it quits, finding a small flat spot to camp. With a warm wind still blowing, no need for a tent tonight so cowboy camping it was.
The walk was easy and like walking through a wild cottage garden with so many flowers out. Here is a sample from a 200m stretch: