Past the highway we climb from 5.2k to 6.5k elevation, where one can look over Walker Pass, pathway from the Great Basin to Interior of California.
The trail seems to go way up and way down several times during the day, as hikers grumble and are not totally convinced that the route requires such climbs. By afternoon I am dragging.
The BLM has another no-fee campsite just past a water source, where I am the only occupant, until some group arrives late and builds a fire.
Continuing in high desert, the trail descends to a dirt road at Bird Spring Pass with a water cache… and more. A group of trail angels put out a lovely spread, and I graze on fresh cooked quesadillas, cold soda, brownie, celery stick with dip, Snickers for later, assorted muffins, chex mix, grapes, and– oh yeah– a couple liters of water. The route climbs from 5.5k elevation to 6.8k, fueled by trail angel brunch, easy climbing. Later the path is on wide #lat mountain-top, mostly level, before descending to Walker Pass and interesting looking snow-kissed peaks further north. At Walker Pass Campground, another group of trail angels serve a massive slab of smoked beef brisket smothered in salsa with baked potato, rolls, and cold drinks. Some of these angels are out of Bakersfield, others from nearby Lake Isabella. New hiker names today included Milkshake, Blazer, Dragon, Zeroman, and John.
After walking a few miles, wind and wind turbines are gone. Vegetation becomes mixed conifer with oak, to be replaced in a few more miles with pleasant open pine forest with rye grass and scattered sagebrush. The warm air in the afternoon is welcome after several cold windy nights. How pleasant to be walking on level trail among tall pines. No hikers are seen until near a water cache at a road crossing near mile 615, where several are clumped together. Looking forward in the direction of trail, the ecozone suddenly changes to high desert. I do not see nearby mountains causing a rain shadow, so am unsure what causes such a sudden transition. The first cows of the trip regard me sourly. Thought for today: Does a wind turbine spin a cocoon and emerge a helicopter?
Chip, Voon, and I take the 6:15 intercity bus to Cameron Road exit of highway 58, and resume our hike. Chip and I hike together much of the morning, and I lag behind in the afternoon. The trail starts at 3.8k elevation, rising to 6k, heading generally north. Cool and breezy, we hike a fast pace, and the climb seems easy, as we talk on the way up. The first water source is at 18 miles, where we meet Hotdog and Pinto. We carry enough water to dry camp, for the next source is 25 miles away. Wind turbines are with us all day, as is the cold wind. The camping area is popular, with over a dozen tent sites spread out, partially hidden.
End 566.5 Highway 58, Cameron Road exit, then accept trail angel ride to Tehachapi. Miles walked: 12.6 I walked down a ridge and past many wind turbines to a road crossing, Willow Springs Road, where one can hitch to the town of Tehachapi. The morning is cold, perhaps a bit too windy, but still good hiking temperature, so the walk continues towards the alternative road crossing to town, a few miles later. Now wind turbines are in even greater numbers, older models mixed with the new, and a strong wind exercises them well today. Up and down ridges the trail goes, past wind machines almost all the way to the road exit. Trail angel Tripod comes by and gives me a ride to town. Tripod is a thru-hiker that has been off the trail several weeks, but my get back on soon. He takes me to Wit’s End, the house of a trail angel coordinator, whose front room serves as a hiker hangout, where we can talk and share information. Rachel, another trail angel, comes by, and offers a ride to the Albertsons, 1.5 miles away. The town is kind of spread out into 3 or more big clumps, but transport is not a problem if you are wearing your pack, since townsfolk are quick to stop and offer rides to hikers. Rachel comes back and gives me a ride to my cheap motel in the center of town. The wifi turns out to be poor, so I return to Wit’s End to use their Internet after cleaning up, and talk with more hikers, then return to my room for trip prep, and the first motel bed of the trip. New hiker names and faces to remember today include Mantis (from Vegas), Black Widow (from CT), Adam (from Poland!), Chance, starting a break to recover from injury, Chip, Heart and Soul, Birdie (Phx), Curdles and Level from back east, and Tripod, mentioned above.