Once I finally made my decision to go home after reaching Kennedy Meadows, I felt some relief from the uncertainty I had been feeling. Still, I wasn’t feeling entirely resolved.
My decision meant I was choosing to separate from the Woohoo Crew. That is, I would be leaving my tramily unless I could convince them to join me again when I began hiking south from the Canadian border.
|Date||Thursday, May 9, 2019|
|Weather||Gradually increasing cloudiness with a high temperature in the mid 60s|
|Trail Conditions||Long climbs and descents, some rocks on first descent|
I knew I needed to follow through with flipping up to Washington after the snow melted. This decision made me more confident I could keep my commitment to hike every mile of the PCT. It would also help to ensure I enjoyed my time on the trail. Tromping over miles of snow wasn’t my idea of fun.
The rest of the crew had similar goals, but they were still sorting out how they wanted to achieve them. Some spoke of wanting to jump north of the Sierra to find a snowless stretch. I considered that, but could see from snow reports that there was clear trail only for a couple hundred miles. Eventually, any direction they would go in May or June would be hitting more snow.
Falls wanted to keep going into the Sierra. He seemed intent on walking northbound regardless of the conditions, and being young and experienced, he was capable of being successful.
To take a break and sort out their plans, the tramily talked of jumping ahead to South Lake Tahoe for a week-long break. I was invited to go with them, but it didn’t feel like the right move for me.
I began making subtle and not-so-subtle suggestions for them to flip to Washington with me in July. There seemed to be some interest, but no one would commit to it.
Mostly, I think, they just needed more time to figure out what to do next. This was a confusing time for all of us. None of our options seemed like the best one.
The night had been breezy, but as I hoped, the trees sheltered our tents. Eventually, the wind died down.
That wasn’t entirely a good thing because without the breeze, condensation formed on the inside of my tent.
I was the first of the group to leave camp. When I left at 6:45 a.m., some were still in their tents.
I don’t think this was a subconscious attempt to begin separating myself from the group, though. Now that I had a hiking schedule, I wanted to make sure I kept it.
The trail soon passed by another wind farm. I stopped to look at the structures. They appeared to be older than what I had seen before. Some of the first wind farms in the U.S. were constructed in this area in the 1970s, but I don’t know if these windmills dated back that far.
Though there was a light breeze, the blades of many windmills weren’t spinning. They were pointed in different directions, which seemed like a metaphor for the Woohoo Crew as we tried to sort out our next phase.
My attention on the windmills was broken by a rumble coming from high overhead. When I looked up I caught sight of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The unique flying wing design was unmistakable.
A B-2 can fly at an altitude of more 50,000 feet. Because I could easily see this one fly over me, it had to have been flying much lower than that. Most likely it had taken off from Edwards Air Force Base, which was less than 30 miles away.
After seeing so many windmills before Tehachapi Pass, I wasn’t surprised to see them again. This is said to be one of the windiest areas in the world. The winds here average 14 to 20 miles per hour.
It wasn’t until 10:15 a.m. before tramily members began to catch up to me.
By that time the trail was making a gradual descent, which would lead us to Golden Oaks Spring. That was our first water source since leaving Tehachapi and our last water source for the next 18.9 miles.
We met up at the spring at about 11:45 a.m. It was a pleasant spot with shade, so this seemed like an ideal place to relax, drink plenty of water, and eat lunch.
I decided to cook my dinner here for lunch in order to conserve the water I would need to carry.
Collecting water was easy because it flowed from a plastic pipe connected to the spring.
When we discovered we only had four more miles to go before reaching our intended campsite, we decided to stay at the spring an extra long time. We didn’t leave until 3 p.m.
All of us should be able to do a few more miles per day than we were walking yesterday and today. Two days in a row of fewer than 15 miles was short for this point in our hike, but the water situation had to be factored in. A shortage of campsites ahead on the trail also needed to be considered.
Gilligan was still having pain in her feet, and that was one more reason why I kept these days under 15 miles for the first couple days out of Tehachapi. We have an option of walking a few more miles tomorrow, if possible.
The remainder of the day on the trail was pleasant. There were some nice views to go along with the easy trail.
Larger, darker clouds began to move in, however, as we neared the campsite. A rumble of thunder could be heard, and I wondered if it might rain before we got there.
While I was setting up my tent, however, the clouds diminished and the threat of rain ended.
A hiker named Ringmaster joined us at the campsite. I ate for dinner what would have been my lunch.
The temperature dropped quickly, so I went to bed early. A light rain began to fall at around 11 p.m. and by midnight it was falling much harder.