Thursday, July 22, 2010

Goodbye, Southern California!

June 5: I went down to the lobby for the continental breakfast provided by the hotel and found several hikers already there, including Charmin, Double D, Fuck Cancer, and Graduate. They were already out planning their afternoon, and mom offered them all rides to the post office and to Albertsons while I went back to pack up my bag. They all were planning to zero in Tehachapi, but I was preparing to hit the trail again--a long, waterless stretch on increasingly hotter weather.

Charmin dropped by the room to chat a bit, or so I thought, until she asked if she could use the computer. Ah-ha! The truth comes out! =) I hadn't even thought to offer the use of the computer, selfish pig that I am, but had not problem with setting it up for her then I went back to packing my stuff for the day's hike.

By around 11:00, Mom finally dropped me off at the trailhead on Highway 58, and I started hiking. I had no idea who was ahead of me. Or even if anyone was ahead of me. Everyone I knew about was either in Mojave or Tehachapi taking a day off. But I had miles to do.... and I was now doing them in Central California.

My first guidebook ended at Highway 58, and I started using my new Central California PCT guidebook. I waved goodbye to Southern California and looked, with a bit of trepidation ahead, to Central California and the High Sierras. I wasn't in the High Sierras--not yet--but there were some scary-looking elevation charts for this section of trail coming up.

I only went a mile or so before bumping into Dude and Trouble. I'd never met either of them before, but I recognized their trail names from Mr. Mountain Goat's blog, so we mostly talked about him. I was kind of surprised to see Dude and Trouble, though, since the last blog entry I had read suggested that he thought these two were ahead of him. And I knew Mr. Mountain Goat was well ahead of me. What were they doing back here on the trail? It seems Dude got sick and took a lot longer to recuperate than Goat expected. He was probably hiking his legs off trying to catch up with these two, not realizing that they were actually behind him.

Trail communication is actually remarkably pretty good, but sometimes it fails, and this is one of those instances where it failed. Oh, well, at least this isn't my problem to worry about. =)

The trail climbed steadily higher and higher, and there's not much to report about this section except a severe lack of water. The next known water source was 16.6 miles from Highway 58, and I needed to reach at least that point for the night if I didn't want to run out of water.

So I pushed on, taking a long, two hour break late in the day to wait out some of the heat from the afternoon. Biscuit passed me, then I passed him another mile up the trail, then he passed me again, almost like dancing partners. I'd never met Biscuit before, and we didn't really chat any. Just passed by each other several times, until I reached the spring and stopped for the night.

At the spring, Captain Bivy had already set up camp, and several frogs could be seen frolicking in the water doing their little chirping routine. They were the first frogs I could actually see on the trail. Usually I see hear them. These little fellows weren't at all shy, however.

Captain Bivy, as it turns out, was on the scene for the fire that happened just before the trail crossed I-10--the one started by a hiker's alcohol stove. I started my own alcohol stove going for dinner, and he seemed a little concerned about the flames dancing around the stove when a gust of wind would pass through.

The area was pretty beat down and no grass or weeds were growing within four feet of my stove, so I didn't have any concern about burning down the forest. There was nothing around to burn! But Captain Bivy was a little nervous about the dancing flames anyhow, then told me about his experience with the other hiker who started a fire then tried to put it out with his bare feet--a fellow named Wolf Taffy. Captain Bivy said he quit the trail because he was ashamed, " well he should be," he said with finality. Now that I actually knew the name of the guy who started the fire, I felt a little sorry for him. When he was just some anonymous dumbass, it seemed okay to hate him. Now he was a real person, with a name and a history, and I felt a little sorry for him.

Captain Bivy also had found out that the fire department charges a flat $500/acre for fires that are started, so it was going to cost Wolf Taffy about $25,000 for that little wildfire. I did the math in my head, coming out with 50 acres to get to $25,000, but had been told earlier than the fire only consumed 28 acres, which would have made it a $14,000 fire. Still, a lot of money just to cook a simple meal. So I don't really know how large the fire was or how much it cost, except that apparently it would cost Wolf Taffy $500/acre for the fire he started.

Biscuit trailed into camp near sunset, telling us that he wasn't feeling particularly well and thought he was getting sick. "You can camp way over there," I pointed to him, far away from Captain Bivy and myself. =) He didn't actually camp that far away, but he did keep his distance from us to help insure we don't get sick from him, which was certainly thoughtful.

And, no, I didn't start any wild fires this night with my stove. Cooked my meal, ate it, and cleaned up. No unexpected problems!

In August, I'll be participating with Amanda in the Washington Trail Association's Hike-a-Thon. If you haven't already, please consider sponsoring us. (Especially me!) The folks do great work helping to fix up and maintain trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail and help make thru-hikes such as mine possible. If you enjoy reading this blog, consider giving something back to the trails that make it possible. Thanks!

1 comment:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Awwww, bummer. I thought that maybe Charmin was going to join you back on the trail :(

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers