Tehachapi to Walker Pass
We left Tehachapi fairly late in the morning and both Garby and I were tired, so we walked fairly slowly. It was already pretty late by the time we got to the start of Section F. Section F starts with a long climb, and I for one was really glad to get to the top. Once we were at the top, the wind mostly stopped, which was another relief. However, it was easy to see from the trees that the wind blew at the top too:
We didn't go much farther that day. We found a saddle out of the wind and set up camp. There was a freak snowstorm the next morning. It created an interesting juxtaposition: snow and cacti:
The snow only lasted long enough to make things cold and wet. Soon enough, the heat was back. Unfortunately, I am somewhat blanking on the exact places that I camped during this time. I seem to be missing a day. Judging from the dates on my pictures, the snow day was May 29. I forget where I camped that night.
The next day must have been more interesting though. The bulk of it was spent on a rather tedious trudge across a desert-y landscape, but toward the end of the day we had gained some elevation and found ourselves amongst the Joshua Trees.
I sat and ate supper in the shade of a couple at around 4:00 and then hiked in the dusk, when it got a little cooler. When I got to my destination (Bird Spring Pass), there was a cache of cool water, but only Joshua Trees on which to hang my hammock. It felt a little wrong to do so, but it was actually a decent base.
The next day was one of my favorite kinds. It began with a nice long climb, it was followed by a long mostly-flat section mostly in the woods, and ended with a descent. At the end of the descent was Walker Pass, which has a campground and had trail magic that day. I got some pizza and drinks and waited for Garby, who I had hiked past the previous day. When he caught up, I asked whether he wanted to climb the next hill that evening or just stay at the campground. I must admit that I was happy that he chose the latter.
Walker Pass to Kennedy Meadows
The following day also began with a climb, but was supposed to end with a climb as well. Garby and I ate a longish lunch at a stream near the base of the climb and we discussed where we would camp. After lunch, I let him go ahead of me as I normally do, but when I got to the place that I thought would be the campsite, I saw neither hide nor hair of him. Thinking that I had perhaps misread the map, I kept going. After an hour, I was sure that I had gone too far, but there was no turning back at that point. I found a thicket of brushy trees and hung my hammock for the night, hoping that Garby wouldn't think that I had ditched him.
The mountains were pulling me in the next day. All my pictures from the day are terrible because they are of the mountains in the distance. (Except maybe this one, which is terrible only because the snake is so unimpressive:)
It was a decent day of hiking. There was a burned area, which wasn't so nice, but I also saw a huge golden eagle, and then walked along the Kern river for a while, both of which were very nice. I made it to Kennedy Meadows – mile 700 – by late afternoon.
Kennedy Meadows is the last stop for hikers before the big mountains: The Sierra Nevada. I had known when I started my journey that I would be getting there somewhat early, considering that 2011 had been one of the highest snow years on record. I knew that I should take a few days and try to wait for it to melt. I ended up taking one.
Garby, Lovebird, and Raven all showed up on my zero-day. Garby was worryingly late – he had gotten sick again and was not able to keep food down very well. In the end, he took a couple of weeks off from the trail and came back feeling better and made quite a name for himself in the Sierras. Kennedy Meadows was the last place that I saw him on the trail. It turned out that we passed somewhat close to each other a couple more times, but I found out later that he got off the trail near the California/Oregon border with foot problems.
The highlight of my zero-day was going to an alpaca farm with the rest of the gang. I purchased an alpaca hat there that I wore for the rest of the trail (including some really cold nights in the mountains, where I was extremely glad to have it). We hung out the rest of the day and even watched the movie Old School projected onto a big screen outdoors after it got dark. It was a great day.
Into the mountains, and more snow than I thought possible. Hiking with a large group. Defying death to get to the trail's highest point.