Mexican border to Walker Pass (650 miles)
Tehachapi to Walker Pass
Tehachapi 1st June We
had about an hour's wait hitching a lift into Tehachapi and managed
to get dropped off at an 'all you can eat' Mexican near the centre
of town. We have arranged to stay with Jim and Sandy, friends of fellow
hikers Chris and Janelle, who have an 'A frame' house out of town.
We met them all at the house and crashed out grateful for the hospitality
of Jim and Sandy.
Next day we headed back into town to
sort out our mail packages at the post office. Whilst rummaging through
our box on the floor of the PO a guy started chatting to us who, it
turned out, had llamas on his farm. He and Martina struck a chord
and he left us his address and an invite to visit the farm. We had
just about decided to do the 'flip
flop' and head for Canada next and sent our box to a friend,
John Hossack, in San Francisco in anticipation of this journey. We
bought pizzas for everyone and returned back to the A frame for the
rest of the day.
Up at 5am the next day and we were off
north on the PCT at 7am with some low cloud, drizzle and wind to accompany
us. Perhaps this Scottish-like cool weather - or the good rest- helped
us on to hike a good 23 miles to Golden Oak springs where we met up
with Chris, Janelle and another hiker Tim.
Its my birthday on 4th June and
Martina produced a card, candles and a sumptuous can of diet coke!
As another special present I saw a bobcat nearby in the bushes and
it rapidly disappeared as it spotted me. That day, we also spotted
a black bear - its easy to take hiking for granted at times but we
realise how special it is to be out here with the wildlife and the
scenery changing subtly to greener shades as we head northwards to
the bigger mountains. That night we camped in a lovely spot sheltered
by pines and next to a river and have a great meal consisting
Cream of herb soup and bread
Curry flavour couscous + sun dried
White chocolate Jell-O + orange
A large toblerone chocolate bar
2 raisin cookies each
A diet for kings and hungry hikers indeed!
We hit a contrast the next day as we
from the cool forest into hot, hot chaparral country and a 18 mile
waterless stretch which meant that we had to carry all our water with
us. After some forest of oak and Jeffrey pine, then some lovely flower
meadows we dropped again to drier ground and Joshua trees.
A camp spot was found on dirty 'cow
pat' ground next to a water spigot and I had an uncomfortable night
as my 'thermarest' sleeping mat has a
but I couldn't find the hole! We continued with the early
starts and were hiking at 6.45am to beat the midday heat on sandy
paths which made for hard going - but the lovely morning light on
the Joshua trees made up for it. We ascended up Skinner peak to 6,900feet
through steep slopes of yellow and purple chia flowers and glimpsed
the ranks of snowy Sierra Nevada peaks faintly to the north for the
first time whilst the foreground is dominated by a pinyon pine covered
plateau which we will need
to cross first. Our trail soon entered a burnt forest
zone and it
lent a slightly melancholy feel to the day- not helped by two ATV's
(All Terrain Vehicles) noisily squealing past us on the trail. Damp,
windy weather accompanied us on the final stretch down to Walker
Pass and our stop off point. Martina managed to get us a lift
from the first car that passed and we were soon ensconced in the 'Subway'
sandwich shop in the town of Isabella to the west down the highway.
Our minds were now resolved to stop
hiking north here and to travel up to Canada to resume the hike southwards
from the border. We had completed 650 miles in California - a bit
under a quarter of the journey- it was 7th June and now we
just had a mere 2,000 miles to go- gulp!
Looking back, the scenery and variety
in Southern California had been a revelation - in particular,
the displays of flowers will live with us for a long time. We had
been fortunate that the wet winter had meant flower displays and,
more practically, lots of flowing rivers and streams for our water
supplies. We would both like to return again to visit the US desert
A couple (Chuck and Jean) heard us talking
in the Subway shop and again give us a kind offer to drive us to the
train station in Bakersfield the next day. We were both tired, sweaty,
dusty and a bit bedraggled but looked forward to a rest whilst travelling
and a new cooler start in the Washington mountains. Who knows what
conditions would be like for us or how we would fare..........................
Next Canada ! Manning
Park southwards through Washington