Day 45: The Wind Farm, It Keeps Getting Bigger!
Friday, May 4, 2018 10:03 pm
Location: CA 58 / Tehachapi (566.4 miles)

Today was a fairly busy day, between hiking, resupply, and two extra visits to the trailhead to pick up hikers. (Including yesterday and today, I may have set some sort of record for visits to the trailhead.)

Breakfast, at Rachel’s, was fairly low-key. Sparky cooked scrambled eggs for the hikers, and I helped out with a potatoes-onion-peppers stir-fry. Her two youngest kids continued to hang out with us, the youngest wearing an adorable dog pajama onesie. (And occasionally crawling around under the dining room table with the dogs, who seemed to humor her.)

Rachel let me borrow one of her daughter’s backpacks to use for today’s hike. (Besides weighing less, it also let me not have to leave all the stuff in my pack lying around on her living room floor.) She also generously let Sparky drive her car, and he drove me to Wits End, after which he, Rain Man, and Oats went to the food store to do their resupply. We all agreed we should do something nice for Rachel, on account of her hospitality, and we decided to split the cost of filling up her car’s gas tank.

Another trail angel, David, picked me up from Wits End, Austin and Mikala from their hotel, and then drove us to the trailhead, where we began our very unencumbered hike from Tehachapi Willow Spring Road to Highway 58. This 7.9 mile hike was entirely within the wind farm I started going through yesterday, which only served to show just how incredibly big it was.

Aside from water caches at the two trailheads, there’s no water along the eight miles, and the next water source is 17 miles beyond Highway 58. (Actually, the waterless stretch starts at Tylerhorse Canyon, making for a 34 mile long stretch without water.) So being able to get this short section done without a fully loaded town pack was great, since it will cut down on the water carry in two days when I leave Tehachapi .

I wouldn’t exactly say this section was boring, but there wasn’t a lot going on beyond traveling on the hills inside the wind farm. As I mentioned yesterday, there were quite a few different models of wind turbines in this farm, and especially the older ones made a terrible racket as they were spinning around. The sound from the turbines eventually became uncomfortable and disconcerting, and I put music on to cover up the noise. Some bright orange flowers did break up the purple-yellow monotony.

It took about three hours for me, Austin, and Mikala to hike the segment between the two roads, and a message to Wits End as we got near the highway got us a ride back into town with Rachel. She dropped us at the BBQ restaurant two blocks away from Wits End, and we had fantastic barbequeue. (Also, fantastic pecan pie.)

When we were done, I went back to Wits End and hung out with Dalton. We discussed the implementation behind the “one phone number connected to 25 trail angels” aspect to Wits End. It was a bit more low-tech than I imagined, and immediately, the gears started turning in my head about how to improve the process. (Obviously, there’s not much I can do about it now, but after I get home, it’s possible there might be something interesting I can do to help.)

I went out with Dalton for the next trailhead pickup, to get Ghost Hiker and Trooper, who had finished slackpacking the section between the two roads. Trooper had three pairs of previously broken-in shoes sent to Tehachapi so she could select whichever one worked better for her, only to find that her feet had since grown, and none of them fit!

We dropped them off at a sporting goods store so Trooper could try and find a pair of shoes that fit, and Dalton dropped me off at the food store so I could do my resupply. (Actually, he was really awesome, and waited in the parking lot for me to get my food!) We then went back out to the trailhead to pick up Audrey and Johaquin (whom I’d previously seen at Hikertown, at least).

Dalton gave them the tour around town, and we quickly swung by the sporting goods store so I could get a new fuel canister, before we dropped them off.

Back at Wits End, Dalton and I picked up David, and we went to Rachel’s for dinner. It was a fairly large crowd: Rachel, her husband, her two youngest kids, Dalton and David, four hikers, two dogs, and a cat. After dinner, we presented Rachel with a potted plant (a lilac, I think) Sparky picked up earlier in the day, as thanks for her hospitality.

Tomorrow: I have nothing else I need to do, so it’s going to be a wonderful zero.

One of Rachel’s dogs strikes a majestic pose.