PCT 2019: Day 43, Tylerhorse Canyon to Tehachapi

But she wasn't letting on that she was grieving

The rest of the Woohoo Crew had not arrived in camp by the time I went to bed last night, so I figured I could sleep in a little extra this morning. I wasn’t even sure they’d be here yet when I woke up.

I woke up at 6 a.m., then faded in and out of sleep for the next hour.

DateMonday, May 6, 2019
WeatherClear, then becoming partly cloudy with a high temperature in the mid 70s
Trail ConditionsTwo long climbs and descents, several ATV trails cause come confusion
Today's Miles17.0
Trip Miles559.7

At around 7:00 I was surprised to hear Falls’s voice. I quickly got up and discovered the rest of the crew was all here.

I learned from MJ, who was about to leave, they had arrived around 2:30 a.m. Now everyone was already getting up and preparing to leave.

They may have wanted to get going with just a few hours of sleep, but they weren’t moving fast. Most of us didn't leave until 9:00.

Right away, the trail made a climb out of Tylerhorse Canyon. It was shorter and not as steep as the descent into the canyon yesterday.

From the top of the climb, I looked back and saw more of the wind farm I had walked through yesterday, which was operated by a company called Avangrid Renewables. From here I had a better idea of just how large it was.

I also got a much better view of the acres of solar photovoltaic panels in Antelope Valley.

The trail began an easy, zig-zag and up-and-down path along a ridge for the next three miles.

Along the way I met a section hiker going southbound. She told me her name was Jan and she was from Australia.

Jan said she was finishing a hike she and her husband started. “But then he got sick and we had to get off the trail,” she added.

We ended our good-natured conversation and went our separate ways. It was only then that I realized a key part of her story, which she hadn’t told me.

It dawned on me that as we were talking, she held in her fingers a man’s wedding ring. It hung on a chain around her neck. I finally made the connection. Her husband had died, and now she was finishing the hike they had set out to do together.

How could I have missed this? How could I have been so insensitive to not notice and not show some sympathy?

A short time later I reached a hiker register. When I looked through the names signed in the book, I saw Jan’s name. Just above her name, perhaps written as an afterthought, was “and Paul.”

Reading that broke my heart.

After leaving the hiker register, the trail dropped down into another canyon, then climbed out the other side.

I was now beginning to see the remnants of a few toppled-over trees. They were all that was left of what must have been a large number of trees along this section. They had all burnt in a wildfire.

At 1:15 p.m. I caught sight of a couple of bright red objects, but at first I could not tell what they were. I had to walk closer before I could see they were patio umbrellas.

This was unexpected, but it raised my hopes that what I was seeing up ahead was trail magic.

That’s exactly what it turned out to be. The trail magic was provided by a Tehachapi resident named Daniel. Spamala and Just Awesome were there when I arrived. The rest of the crew had already moved on.

We stayed for lunch and Daniel told us a little about the area. He said the forest fire that destroyed all of the trees happened about 12 years ago.

I’ve often heard about how fires are good for the forest and it is able to quickly rejuvenate after one. Seeing this, though, made me realize that’s not always the case.

Spamala, Just Awesome and I left together. We continued walking through the burnt area.

A couple small clusters of trees showed what this part of the Tehachapi Mountains might have looked like a dozen years ago.

We still had a long way to go to reach the road where we hoped to get a ride into Tehachapi. The temperature remained pleasant and the trail wasn’t difficult, though it was sometimes sandy.

We had one more ridge to go over, and when we reached the top we entered another large wind farm.

This one was operated by Terra-Gen, and combined with other nearby fields operated under the name Alta Wind Energy Center, comprise the third-largest onshore wind energy project in the world.

There were many other trails that crisscrossed the PCT along this stretch. The had been made by ATVs and off-road motorcycles. Though trail maintainers had tried to keep the vehicles off the trail, there were a few places where they had been unsuccessful.

All of these extraneous trails led to some confusion about which one was the correct one for us to walk.

When we reached Willow Springs Road we made a half-hearted attempt to hitch a ride into Tehachapi, but we soon decided nearly 7 p.m. on a Sunday night wasn’t a good time to do that.

Spamala had a list of Tehachapi trail angels and the first one she called, Debbie, agreed to pick us up.

When we reached town, Debbie showed us around before dropping us off at the Fairmont Inn. Though we offered, she wouldn't take any money for gas.

After I showered, I walked a short distance down the street to Burger King, where most of the crew had wanted to go for dinner. I’m not sure what was worse, the food or the service. Also, they were out of some items and the credit card scanner didn’t work, so they could only accept cash.

I couldn’t decide if the place was a hot mess or a train wreck.

The tramily wanted to make this stop a double zero. I wasn’t enthusiastic about this, but I decided to stay with the crew. That was more important to me than getting to Kennedy Meadows one day earlier.

I figured I could also use some rest, but was afraid I would be bored. That, I was soon to discover, wasn't a problem.

Did you see our brother
He was here the other day
But he only came to say that he was leaving
Did you see his lady
She was looking where he'd gone
But she wasn't letting on that she was grieving

She's bound to go
Perhaps she'll find him waiting for his boat in some city far away
She's bound to go

From "From Silver Lake” by Jackson Browne

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"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.