Golden oaks spring – highway 58
16.8 miles. 2262ft up. 3912ft down.
I slept really well, which made me think that Catwater might not of. That’s how it seems to go. She was slow packing up and I sensed she wasn’t feeling it today.
We got going but about half an hour into the day she says she doesn’t think she is strong enough to carry on at the pace we are going and I might have to hike on ahead. I have a deadline and she doesn’t. But our goal today was to get to Tehachapi so we focused on that for now.
The sunrise was beautiful and the trail wasn’t difficult, just long. And it seemed so much longer than 16 miles! It followed a dirt road for a while that I didn’t remember at all from last year. I was following footprints of the same shoe as mine. Maybe Crusher is in front, maybe she passed us in the night?
I got some cell service and distracted myself with looking up stuff. I carried on hiking but I didn’t even notice the trail going by. I had a bit of a panic at one point as to whether I was still on the trail. I saw bear tracks, quite a sizeable one by the look of the size of its feet!
Then came the long descent to the highway. You can see the highway from high up on the ridge and it’s 8 miles down. 8 miles!! But I can see it, its right there! But the trail switchbacks the whole way down, and it gets hotter and hotter with each footstep it seems.
Halfway down I see a blue jacket in the middle of the trail. It looks freshly dropped so I pick it up and carry it with me. It will be easier for someone to retrieve from the trailhead. Then I text Crusher. Where are you? 2 miles from the highway she replies. I’ve got your jacket I tell her. It was Crushers jacket!
I put my phone away and get a move on. It’s hot and I just want to get off this bit of trail. I didn’t enjoy climbing up it and I’m not particularly enjoying coming down it. The trail follows the highway for a couple of miles and it’s changed from last year. They have been doing some construction work and where they have put in a tunnel under the highway there is now a big trench to cross and where there used to be trail there is just a big mound of earth compacted into a dirt road.
I was so glad to get to the bridge, I see Crusher there and then I see another hiker being brought back to the trail. I don’t recognise him. The lady driving asks us if we need a ride. Yes! But I have to wait for Catwater. I give Crusher her jacket and tell her to take the ride. She disappears and I go and sit with the other hiker. It’s Andy, now called Trudge, who I last saw in Washington. He has been moving slow and has skipped the Sierra but he’s still enjoying himself I think.
He heads off to the trail I sit in the sun amongst the discarded rubbish people have thrown out their cars, wrappers, bottles, glass, water bottles filled with what looks like urine….
Just over an hour later Catwater appears and it’s an impossible hitch so I make some calls to the list of trail angels I have. About 5 voicemails and 5 rejections later finally a lady called Georgette agrees to give us a ride. Half an hour later we are in Tehachapi and checking into the Best Western.
We go to the Santa Fe Motel where we have some packages to pick up – including my new tent – and then seek out food. We get pizza and I eat every last bite. We shower and sort through our stuff and then we go and meet Crusher for dinner. We have Mexican food, I order a chicken fajita burrito served enchilada style. No kidding. And we catch up on what Crusher had been up to. And Crusher picked up Catwaters head net that she didn’t know she had dropped.
Back at the hotel I empty myself of everything I had just eaten. I think I may have over indulged.
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.