It’s up at 4:45 today – Sasha left yesterday afternoon, so I’m making something of an effort to catch her, at least before she gets in and out of Tehachapi. Matt has agreed to give Moses a ride out1, and Moses has insisted he’s leaving Casa de Luna with me, so Matt’s agreed to give me a ride, too. The plan is to leave by 5:30 – there’s an 11.3 mile roadwalk around the closure that I want to finish before the heat of the day sets in, and I’m done in enough time to hit the road.
Moses, however, is still sleeping, so I try to find a way to wake him without getting the butt-end of his paranoia. Poking works, but while he says he’ll be ready in 10 – it’s 5:20 – it’s an hour before he actually gets in the car. Ehhhh2.
He’s good company for the roadwalk, though he makes fun of my insistence on crossing the road to tap the sign. Continuous footpath, and all that. But while he’s “never experienced racism in the wider world”, he has stories for me now, between people feeling it necessary to remark on the fact that he’s black, to people wondering what would make a black man hike, to talking about microaggressions against Muslims. He’s had an interesting hike, to be sure. We make it all the way to Lake Hughes with this conversation; while everyone else has had beers here at the Rock Inn, I satisfy myself with a Twix ice cream bar.
It’s after Lake Hughes that the landscape starts to get boring-not-boring. It all looks the same – what I imagine the green tunnel of the AT looks like, sans the road – but there’s a wolf sanctuary, where they howl at me as I pass, and there’s an ostrich farm, where the giant birds roam in corrals like horses, or maybe just very strangely-bred mostly-domesticated dinosaurs. And then just… More green. More road.
Moses has fallen behind, or I’ve left him – I’m trying to beat the heat, but he wants to take more breaks than I do. He’s cost me an hour already, so I’ve decided to move at my pace, but it means I don’t even have him as a distraction. Oof.
I’m thankful when the detour turns onto a dirt road, even though it starts climbing – finally, something to look at.
There’s Lower Shake Campground, and then that pretty trickling sound; there’s water coming out of a pipe on top of a steep hill. I scramble up to collect – it’s clear and cold and exciting – then basically slide back down.
A bit more of a climb gets me to Upper Shake Campground, my siesta spot for the day. I try to use the privy but, failing that, put my pack on the table as a beacon and spread my tyvek out to sleep. Moses reaches my spot within an hour, curls up on his own tarp, and then both of us are napping in the shade.
We wake and eat – there’s no water, but I have enough to cold soak and make it to the next source; Moses makes ramen in a Jetboil he found trailside. I point out he’d use a lot less fuel just boiling water in it, like it’s meant for. Learn something new everyday.
I say I’m leaving at 5 when I go off to use the privy; when I come out and pack – and watch Mixed Rice, Prithika, Neon, and Passport go by – Moses dallies around and then heads in to the privy, at 5. This is the second time he’ll have delayed me today, so I’m out – I’m trying to make it at least to mile 500 tonight, 7.1 miles away. That’s just short of 3 hours away for me at my average pace, so I have to roll to get there.
In my rolling, I catch up with the four ahead of me, greet them, get to listen to their conversation as we move miles under our feet. They stop at the Sawmill Campground spur trail to head off to camp, but I stop there to eat, and they hang out with me while I shovel my rehydrated not-pad-thai3 into my face.
Soon enough, it’s time for us to split, so it’s further on down the trail for me.
I find out after all this time that there’s actually some music on my phone – no idea how it got there, but it’s there – so I’ve got one headphone in while I’m walking. It’s so nice to have music for once!
That’s especially true since it’s getting darker and I’m trying to push and it seems like 500’s just out of reach.
But then, I’m there!
Quick photos, then it’s trying to find a campspot.
I don’t really want to camp on a road by myself, so I pass by the first camp-portunity, but at 501 there’s this trail leading off into the brush. The spots back there aren’t great, definitely not great enough to set up my tent, but I decide I can make one work cowboying. Out in the distance, I can see the pulsating red lights of a wind farm – where I’m pretty sure I’m headed – and the orange lights of a city. It’s all quite beautiful.
Also, I have service! I call Spesh and we chat for a bit, I post some stuff, marvel at the availability of phone and Internet service in the wilderness. What a piece of work is man. What a piece of work is me for using it.
The spot is uncomfortable, but it’s dark and I’m not moving, so it’ll have to do. I pee nearby to mark my territory, and then it’s to sleep, to sleep, the steady pulsing of the windmills’ lights a metronome first for my steady breathing, then for my dreams.
Start: 478.2 • End: 501.0 • Day: 12.9 Detour + 7.5 Trail = 20.4
Notable Accomplishments: Absconded from Casa de Luna • Solid day despite late start • Awesome front porch, if not campspot
 He keeps hitching getting ahead of me. I don’t know how he does it, in a couple of ways.
 I did my due diligence and said my goodbyes to Mama T, Molasses, and Jackass last night. Joe came out right as we were preparing to leave, and I gave him some love then. Still, it was so, so hard to go.
 Chili Ramen + crunchy peanut butter = 😀
It would probably be better with some rehydrated veggies, but whatcha gonna do.