PCT Day 47 – Tuesday May 30
Mile 510.9 to Mile 525.8
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 14.9
Feet Ascended Today: 1116
Feet Descended Today: 1862
Current Elevation: 3102
I awoke in the middle of the night with my hips digging uncomfortably into the hard ground. It took a few minutes for my brain to clear enough so I could assess the problem. My air mattress was completely deflated. Darn. Maybe I hadn’t properly secured the valve. I blew it up again and went back to sleep. A few hours later I woke up on the ground again. Ruh roh. This wasn’t good news. I blew it up again and went back to sleep. When I awoke at 5:00 am it had deflated again. Looks like I have a hole in my mattress. Sigh.
I was more stiff and sore and tired this morning than usual due my interrupted sleep. We got up early and hiked the easy 6.7 miles to our next stop, HikerTown. The landscape changed to prairie grasses and farms as we descended out of the mountains and into the valley.
We arrived at HikerTown by 8:45 am and relaxed there during the heat of the day. HikerTown is one of the more unusual stops on the trail – the location includes a number of small buildings that are built in a western theme with fake storefronts – including a saloon and a town hall. Rumor has it that the buildings were initially intended to serve as a movie set location.
These days, HikerTown offers folks a place to sleep, laundry (in a bucket), an outdoor shower, a powerstrip for charging electronic devices, and a flush toilet. One caretaker manages the entire facility and seems a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of hikers coming through during the peak of hiking season.
The caretaker told us we could crash in the bunkhouse for the afternoon and we lugged our bags inside. It was cooler in the bunkhouse but it wasn’t very clean. The traps in the sink were filled with cockroaches. Gross. But I was glad for a place to wash up and relax.
We took a shuttle to the Neenach Cafe and ordered burgers and stocked up on snacks and supplies. Hooray for a hot meal! We spent the rest of the afternoon napping on the shade and waiting out the heat. I ordered a new mattress pad to be delivered to the next major town, Mojave.
At 6:30 pm we continued hiking. The next stretch of trail is one of the more famous sections as it follows the L.A. Aqueduct for about 15 miles. Hikers typically do this section at night as temperatures can get really hot.
When we first reached the aqueduct, the water flowed by in an open canal – uncovered. We walked along the canal for a few miles as the sun lowered in the sky. Eventually the trail followed along a branch of the aqueduct that flowed in a large round closed pipe. We walked along the top of the pipe as the sun set.
We decided that it was finally time for our hiker fashion show! We had talked about having one for a while, and this seemed like a perfect time. We turned the aqueduct into our catwalk and Alladin played the song “I’m too sexy” as each of us walked along the catwalk, modeling our outfits.
As it got dark, we pulled out our headlamps and took a little break. Another group of hikers came by, also lit up by their headlamps. Everyone was excited to nighthike. We joked about having a dance battle with the other group of hikers. Teehee. I’m pretty sure we could have taken them.
Eventually the aqueduct went completely underground and was only marked by a concrete road along the top. We walked along a dirt road that ran parallel to the concrete road, but it was hard packed and my knees ached after walking for a few miles.
We finally stopped hiking around 10:30 pm. We had heard that it was dangerous to camp on or near the aqueduct as cars raced by during the night, but there was nowhere elder to camp. We put up our tents along the side of the road and quickly fell asleep.