Day 41: Desert Heat and Mountain Magic

Date: May 20, 2017
Miles: 534.9 – 556

This morning we woke up early and left the Cottonwood Creek bridge for the wind turbine occupied miles ahead. The trail goes through the Manzana Wind Project, which is owned by a company that is known for being very hiker friendly.  This was obvious from the signage posted throughout the property.

I had plenty of water and wanted to get some miles in before the temperature climbed even higher, so I skipped the wind farm office experience and kept going until I reached the creek in Tylerhorse Canyon. I spent the afternoon there with the others until the hottest part of the day had passed.

Nap time!

The hike out of the canyon was an hours-long climb, with a slight detour down a hillside to avoid a stubborn rattlesnake. Toward the top of the mountain, an unexpected bit of magic called the Mile 549 Bar & Grill was settled in to the bushes right off of the trail. A local couple had just dropped off a pot of stew and a bag of cherries, which made me completely forget about the ramen I had planned to make for the 10th dinner in a row.

After dinner, most everyone decided to stay and camp since the rumor was that the same couple was going to bring coffee in the morning. I really wanted to get closer to the road in to Tehachapi so that I could get an early hitch in the morning, so I did some night hiking with Allen and we ended up doing another seven miles, bringing us to a spot about two miles before the road. I wanted to stop earlier, but once I had made the decision to find a campsite we hit a long ridge with no space to camp for miles. I was so tired by the time we finally found a spot that I didn’t even care that we were next to a giant garden of wheeling wind turbines or that I had set my ground sheet on a bunch of dried horse poop.  Nothing was going to keep me from falling asleep.

Orange and his backcountry chopsticks.

Trail angel Larry and Sunshine. They bring water to the trail.

My first attempt at night photography. Joshua trees make interesting subjects.