Tent site – Walker Pass
14.5 miles. 3190ft up. 3784ft down.
Such a perfect night again. I have forgotten what it’s like to be warm at night so I automatically layer up and wrap up warm. I soon got too hot and it was the first night I spent in just my sleep clothes for longer than I can remember.
I slept so soundly I don’t think I woke up at all in the night. We packed up in the dark again hoping to make a nice early start. At 6:30 it was just light enough to hike without a headlamp and start walking in shorts and just one layer. I couldn’t quite let go of my hat and gloves but after about 10 minutes it was too hot.
It was a little downhill before the 2000ft climb. Past the uranium water where I got water last year but this year it’s reported as dry so we didn’t even bother going to look. I had drunk my breakfast drink and I had half a litre to get me through the day. Most of the climb was in the shade, although it was still quite hot. I started to smell smoke and I could see a haze in the distance. Maybe that plume I saw yesterday was something. As we climbed higher I could see the smoke hanging in the valleys.
The trail climbed up and up, the terrain giving way to Joshua trees really signalling we are in the desert now! As the trail crossed to the other side of the mountain I checked for cell service. My first contact with the outside in 10 days! I didn’t want to stop so I continued on up the trail while looking at my phone. A highly developed skill! I had been puffing and slogging my way up the hill but now I have a distraction I barely notice the trail is climbing and I seem to just float along. Before I know it I’m at the top and I have news of two new humans in the world.
I sit at the top of the climb with patchy cell service and wait for Catwater. I’ve finished my water and there is six miles to go until we hit Walker pass. Not that there is any water there. We carry on and it is supposed to be all downhill from here. There is a lot of up in the downhill and now we are in direct sun it’s getting hotter and hotter. I move up the gears a bit and get a move on. I just want to get down off this hill now. The trail is nice and smooth and I move quickly. I see a couple of guys heading up the trail, I chat to them as I pass and they are amazed that I have walked from Canada, wanting to shake my hand and take my photo. They were going out for the night and they looked as though they had packed everything they owned!
Down the switchbacks and down to the road where I sat in the shade of my bag for a while, I ate some goldfish and waited for Catwater. I wasn’t sure how far behind she was so I didn’t want to hitch too early. I saw a couple of people pull over so went to chat to them about where they were going. Not my direction unfortunately. About half an hour later Catwater comes down the trail and we start to hitch, she also makes a call to a trail angel she had been given the number of. As she is on the phone a car pulls in and asks us if we are going to Lake Isabella. Yes! They had turned around to come and get us! We thought it was going to be a hard hitch but we got lucky. As we drove to Lake Isabella – about 30 miles away – we could see the smoke getting thicker and they were telling us about the terrible fires they have had here over the summer. We passed through huge areas of burn and visibility was low. They offered us some water and I downed nearly three quarters of a litre, I was really thirsty! They took us right to the door of the motel and even waited for us to check they had room. If they didn’t they were going to take us somewhere else! Luckily they had room and we dumped our stuff. The owner of the motel then gave us a ride to Vons supermarket which wasn’t too far away but far enough when you’re tired and hungry.
We went straight to a Mexican restaurant and I got the Tres Amigos (chicken burrito, enchilada and taco, essentially the same food just arranged in a different way) with beans and rice. I wasn’t sure I would manage it all but I nailed it. I spoke to Decaf and he came to meet us, he still hasn’t got his test results.
We went to Vons to pick up a few bits and then I stopped at an ice cream place on the way back. I got 3 types of frozen yoghurt with a bunch of different toppings (charged by the weight, do we have that in the UK?!). I ate it all on the walk back to the motel and by the time we got back I was almost doubled over in pain. My stomach didn’t know what hit it. I had to lie down for a while.
We showered and did laundry (for the first time in 11 days). I have a seriously itchy stomach so I scrubbed it and used the seriously dry skin cream on it to try and cure it. It feels so nice to have a shower. And it feels extra luxurious after struggling for water on the last stretch. I feel lucky to live a life where I have water to wash with and safe water to drink. The water washes the dirt away but highlighted the suns effects on my face.
We then dressed in our waterproofs and puffys and went to get some dinner with Decaf. I did not need any dinner. I was completely full and I had 2 litres of chocolate milk to get through. But we went to Little Ceasars, a budget pizza place and I had a slice of Catwaters pizza. Decaf struggled his way through a subway sandwich, he still looks a bit ropey.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.