PCT 2019: Days 44 and 45, Double Zero in Tehachapi

My planets all in retrograde

My two days in Tehachapi felt as if I were moving backward. It shouldn’t have felt that way. I was moving fast and I was getting chores done.

There was a lot to do during this double zero. Maybe it only felt as though I was moving backward because I wasn’t on the trail.

Then again, what I did were things I didn’t want to do. I saw a doctor and I made plans for going home.

DateTuesday, May 7, 2019
Today's Miles0.0
Trip Miles559.7

The cough I developed about ten days ago was getting worse, not better. Being in town gave me an opportunity to visit a walk-in clinic. Conveniently enough, I found one that was within walking distance.

Well, for a long-distance hiker, everything is within walking distance. Nonetheless, I walked there after breakfast.

Along the way, I saw two German hikers I had met before on the trail. They were sitting on a bench by the road and told me they were waiting for a ride to begin their long trip home. They only had time this year to hike the first 560 miles of the PCT, but they hoped to return next year.

I had to sit a long time in the waiting room at the clinic. When the doctor finally saw me, she made a quick diagnosis. She said my cough was definitely due to allergies related to desert dust and pollen.

That’s common this time of year, she added, and she sees a lot of hikers because of it.

She had the nurse give me a shot of Kenalog, a corticosteroid, which she said is commonly used to treat my kind of allergy. Then I walked back to the hotel.

Just before I got there I saw Steel Belted. He was in a car, heading out of town. He told me he was leaving to see his step-daughter’s graduation.

Steel Belted said he was coming back, so I wished him well and said I hoped to see him again on the trail.

Then when I arrived at the hotel I saw a pleasant surprise: Bookworm. His foot was in a soft cast because he had suffered a stress fracture. He was determined to stay on the trail, though.

Bookworm was going to lunch with Captain and Gilly, as well as the trail angels he was staying with. They invited me to go along, and I happily did. It was fun to see him again.

I had hoped to do laundry today, but the hotel’s laundry room was being remodeled. Because I would also be staying here tomorrow, I decided to put off doing laundry until then.

I should add that I was wearing the town clothes I carry with me — a t-shirt and running shorts — so I hadn’t been walking around town filthy and smelly.

For the rest of the afternoon, I worked on hike plans. I had decided by now I had no choice but to go home after arriving at Kennedy Meadows, which is where the ascent into the Sierra Nevada begins. There was still too much snow there, at least as far as I was concerned.

I usually have a rough idea of where I’ll be for the next few days on the trail. That’s necessary for knowing how much food to buy until the next town. This time, though, I needed a more detailed plan. I was about to make reservations for a rental car and buy a plane ticket, so a solid plan was needed.

I then joined the Woohoo Crew for pizzas while watching Game of Thrones. I wasn’t a regular viewer of the show, but I attempted to be interested in it for a couple hours, then returned to my room to complete my planning.

After arriving in Kennedy Meadows, I will get a ride to Ridgecrest, the largest nearby town, and rent a car. Then I’ll drive to Las Vegas and board a plane to fly home.

I didn’t sleep well that night. I don’t think I was worried about these plans. Over the last couple weeks I had become more firm in my decision to go home and wait out the snow. Once it has melted in Washington, I intend to come back to the trail and hike south from the Canadian border.

Still, I was agitated and didn’t get a lot of rest. I think I’m normally so tired that sleep comes too easily. Today had been a busy day, but not as tiring as usual.

DateWednesday, May 8, 2019
Today's Miles0.0
Trip Miles559.7

The next day, I discovered the hotel’s laundry room was still being remodeled, so I found a laundromat that was near a grocery store. This way, I could combine the two tasks I needed to do in one trip.

After putting my clothes in a washer, I walked across the road to Albertsons. While shopping, I saw Rainbow Sherbet. I also ran into Captain and Gilly while walking back to the laundromat.

Despite all the shopping, chatting and walking, when I got back there were still three minutes to spare before the washer stopped.

When I was done doing laundry, I picked up a fuel canister at Big 5 Sporting Goods and returned to the hotel. I then ate leftover pizza, and sorted my food and gear.

Several members of the tramily wanted to see the Avengers: Endgame, which was recently released, so we made plans to meet for Thai food, then go to a Tehachapi movie theatre. It was five dollars night, so we thought we were in luck.

The restaurant's name that would only make sense in this town, Thai Hachapi. The food was good, but we were soon disappointed when we arrived at the movie theatre. Tickets were already sold out.

Dejected, we walked back to the hotel to watch more Game of Thrones episodes but found a bakery on the way. Daniel, the trail angel we met yesterday, stopped by to talk.

Just Awesome received a message today from a Swiss hiker he met on the trail. The hiker said he had gotten off the trail after only three days of attempting to walk through the Sierra.

He was miserable. Ninety percent of the time, he said, he had to use his GPS to navigate because the trail was buried under six feet of snow. The cold and difficult footing made it impossible to walk more than .9 miles per hour. He said he typically walked 3.5 to four miles per hour.

The message was just another confirmation for me. I was feeling confident about my decision to get off the trail at Kennedy Meadows.

I wasn't happy that I was going to go home. I wanted to keep walking, but it needed to be done. It was the only way I could be sure I would successfully finish.

Now I just needed to get moving forward again.

I don't know what to say about these days
I'm seeing people changing in the strangest ways
Even in the richer neighborhoods
People don't know when they've got it good
They've got the envy, and they've got it bad

When I was a kid everything I did was trying to be free
Running up and down Tinsel Town with the fire inside of me
My planets all in retrograde, the best of all my plans got laid
I made my breaks, and some mistakes
Just not the ones people think I made

Now I'm a long way gone
Down this wild road I'm on
It's going to take me where I'm bound
But it's the long way around

From "Long Way Around" by Jackson Browne

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