Highlights: We hiked out of Tehachapi in a heat-wave. My hips immediately hurt, and each day that passes I fluctuate between not believing there is no way I could possibly make it to Mexico, and feeling like there is no way I could possibly quit since we’re so close to the end. As we hiked on, we ran into Sadie again, and hiked with her to the Andersons (Trail Angels). At the Andersons we met another southbound hiker, a French guy named Adrian. The four of us hiked together for a day to make it to Agua Dulce, where the Saufley’s also host hikers. We’re now hanging out at the Saufley’s enjoying the thought that they’ve put into their set-up.
Day 97: Mile 566.5 to Mile 551.5, 15 miles
October 6th: We woke up in our hotel room and ate breakfast. We mailed out our resupply boxes and returned our rental car at enterprise. We were hoping for a ride back to the trail from enterprise, but they weren’t willing to drive us that far. Instead we got dropped off at the bus station in front of the burger king, and we waited for an hour for the bus while gorging on some last minute calories. The bus dropped us off at the same spot we stopped at four days earlier, and we started up the hill covered in wind farms.
It was HOT out. I didn’t have a good idea of how hot it was, but it only took a few seconds to be drenched in sweat. My hip only felt good for a few hours before I was in excruciating pain. I was really really upset at this. I had really hoped that 4 days rest would have basically cured me, but instead it was worst than before. I felt like quitting more than ever. I felt like there was no way I was going to be able to hike another 500+ miles with this injury. Dirt Stew and I sat in the sand and discussed quitting. I wondered if my hip wasn’t just stiff from not being used for 4 days, and decided to give it another day rather than go back to Tehachapi. We kept on, and got to a water cache and a trail register. I was excited to see who had passed us while we were off trail, but according to the register, nobody had. We were really 4 days in front of the next SOBO? The lack of footprints in the sand confirmed this. In fact we could still see Robert’s footprints, even though at this point he was more than a week ahead of us. It was still unbearably hot when we set up our tent and went to sleep.
Day 98: Mile 551 to Mile 526, 25.5 miles
October 7th: We slept in a whole hour later than usual. We had messed up our internal clock by staying up late in civilized life. We got going, and it was almost instantly too hot. We came across a water cache, and took only a little since our water report told us there was a natural source coming up. A few miles later we came across a trail register where a section hiker going northbound wrote that anyone hiking here should have enough water to make it to the aqueduct. We did not. What about the natural source. We hesitated, wondering if the source was dry, and wondering if we should head back to the cache. We decided to trust the water report more than this trail register note, and continued on. When we did happen upon the canyon where the natural source was supposed to be, I was immediately concerned to see only some wet mud, but as I went upstream slightly, I found running water, even if just a trickle. A trickle can easily be enough to fill many water bottles, just with some patience, and we took a long break while collecting water.
As we descended into an enormous valley, we tasted the water from the canyon. It tasted awful. We would have to drink this for two days. My hips continued to hurt, but I did get almost 15 miles in before they hurt badly. We decided to take a long break to give my hips some rest, and that helped ease the pain for several more miles. Walking through this valley was very different from anything else we had done thus far. We were walking mostly on dirt roads, and it was very flat. We eventually got to the Los Angeles aqueduct, which we would have to walk next to for many miles. For the first section, the aqueduct was completely sealed, so there was no access to water. We camped somewhere along the aqueduct road.
Day 99: Mile 526 to Hikertown (mile 517), then 6 miles on detour, 15 miles
October 8th: By 8AM it was already ridiculously hot. We continued on the aqueduct to where it opened up, and there it was, water! Tons of it flowing through the desert. It was so strange to see so much water at once when we were used to cherishing each drop.
As we were driving back, Dirt Stew pointed to the road that we would need to turn down on our road walk. “I can just drive you guys to Lake Huges if you want”, the guy offered. “No, we have to walk that part,” I said. “But I’m driving you back to Hikertown now, on this road.” He said, confused. “I know, but that’s because Hikertown is where we stopped walking”. “I totally don’t understand what you guys do” He said. “I don’t either.” I replied. I have to admit, walking on roads in 100 degree heat felt pretty dumb. Before we left Hiker Town, I jumped in and out of the shower with all my clothes, rinsing all the salt off, and cooling myself off for several hours. Our clothes dried on our body quite quickly. As we walked out on the road in the cooler hours of the evening, I felt pretty silly for what we were doing. Since we weren’t on the trail, camping would be interesting. As it got dark, we started looking for anything flat and hidden where we could spend the night. We found a spot under a powerline under some trees where we quickly set up and fell asleep.
Day 100: 6 miles on detour to the Andersons (Mile 478), 18 miles
October 9th: We got up and started walking the road again. A few hours later, a vehicle pulled over right next to us, and saw Sadie riding inside waving at us! “Do you want to hike with them?” The man driving the truck asked Sadie. “Yeah!” She answered. Sadie had arrived at Hikertown several hours after we left and spent the night there. We walked the rest of the way to Lake Hughes together sharing stories from the trail. We stopped at the Post Office at Lake Hughes and picked up our packages before continuing on to the Andersons. When we got there, Terri Anderson asked us if we knew about a French guy who was also supposed to be arriving at her house that night. None of us had met a French guy. We took showers and chatted while eating food, and several hours later another hiker showed up.
Day 101: The Andersons (Mile 278) to the Saufley’s (Mile 454.5), 23.5
October 10th: We got up and were surprised to find pancakes waiting for us. Joe gave us all a ride to the trail, and told us he would put two water caches along our route to the Saufley’s. Sadie, Adrian and the two of us walked together towards our next destination: Agua Dulce. Seven miles in we came across the first water cache, and Joe had just driven up to meet us.
We helped him carry some water to the cache, and we hung out there for a few minutes eating oranges that he brought and hydrating. The trail through this section was really nice compared to what we had been walking through for the past few days, which had mostly been roads. This trail was easy going, had a few trees here and there. My hips liked it. The sand wasn’t too soft, and there was enough up and down to keep things interesting without being difficult. While hanging out with Sadie, we convinced her of the trail name “kinda sketchy,” which is an expression she says often. For the first time she signed the trail register “Kinda Sketchy” and I wrote “SOBO’s UNITE!” It was great to be hiking with a few other hikers. The miles went by quickly and we were soon at Agua Dulce. Someone pulled over and offered us a ride down the road to the Saufley’s. The Saufley’s themselves weren’t home, but their son and daughter in law were house sitting for them, and they showed us around. The place was amazing. These people had obviously thought of absolutely everything. They even have a buzzer so you can give yourself a hair cut! We took showers, put on loaner clothes and rode bicycles into town to get food for dinner. It was late by the time we finally got to sleep, closer to real midnight than hiker midnight, and I was completely exhausted. Adrian and Sadie planned to take 3 days to get to Wrightwood, which meant three 27 mile days. I couldn’t imagine getting up to hike 27 miles after staying up so late, so I decided we’d probably say goodbye and take our time. I fell asleep very quickly.