PCT Day 48 – Wednesday May 31
Mile 525.8 to Mile 545.1
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 19.3
Feet Ascended Today: 2885
Feet Descended Today: 1273
Current Elevation: 4521
We got exceedingly lucky with the weather today. It was overcast and cloudy off and on for most of the day, so we were able to hike during normal daylight hours. Hiking along the L.A. Aqueduct on the desert floor is notorious for being a miserably hot endeavor. Most people choose to hike this section either in the early morning or late at night to avoid the heat. We hiked 8 miles of this stretch last night but still had a long ways to go today.
I slept poorly again last night due to my mattress pad continually deflating. I had planned to sleep in since we hiked so late last night, but I didn’t sleep well and was up and ready to go by 6:00 am. When I emerged from my tent I saw that we were in a desert with Joshua Trees! The landscape was completely different than it was before I started night hiking.
Our tents were all in a row along the shoulder of the aqueduct road. Guthook’s PCT guide warns against camping on or near the aqueduct because apparently sometimes cars race eachother on the road. We had seen a few vehicles when we started hiking the first leg of the aqueduct but no cars passed us last night.
The first 3 miles of our hike today followed the aqueduct. Like last night, my knee joints and feet throbbed from walking on concrete. After 3 miles the trail split off from the aqueduct and followed along several dirt roads heading towards an enormous wind farm. The trail went under some power lines connected to electric substations harvesting energy from the wind farm.
We took a lunch break at the next water source, a faucet of non-potable water by a bridge under the aqueduct. We had planned stop under the bridge, but it was really windy so we settled under a tree. I opened up my food bag to make yet another peanut butter and jelly tortilla sandwich when I saw a cockroach embedded into one of my tortillas. Gross!!! I’m assuming the cockroach got in there at HikerTown, as the bunkhouse we stayed in was crawling with cockroaches. I tore off the impacted section of tortilla and put it in my garbage bag, and inspected the rest of my tortillas. They looked ok. I couldn’t really afford to waste any of my food so I put them back in my food bag.
I settled down to take a quick nap when the weather started to turn. The clouds rolled in and the wind picked up and big fat drops of rain began spattering us. It wasn’t very much rain – more of a sprinkle – but it looked like it was threatening to do more. I packed up quickly and we took shelter under a little lean-to with a corrugated tin roof. Someone had apparently used the roof for target practice as it was riddled with holes. It never did start raining any harder so eventually we hiked on, as it was rather cramped under the shelter.
The next section of trail took us directly through a wind farm. The trail wound up and around hills of enormous turbines. It was an interesting feeling to get so close to the turbines, towering over us with slowly rotating blades. At one point the trail crossed a road that led to the wind farm offices – they welcomed hikers and offered water and shade, but it was about a half mile detour off trail and we had plenty of water so we kept going.
Once the trail left the aqueduct and hard packed dirt roads, I felt immediate relief in my knees and feet. Walking on a dirt trail is so much better than hiking on concrete.
The trail led up and out of the wind farm and into the hills. We hiked to Tylerhorse Canyon and filtered water from a stream there. It was the first stream we’d encountered since HikerTown. We sat in a row along the stream bank soaking our hot feet in the water, downstream from the other hikers who were filling their water bottles.
We cooked dinner and decided to hike on for a few more miles so that we didn’t have to hike them tomorrow. When we stopped for the day we had hiked 19.3 miles!! And since we had night hiked last night, that meant we had hiked 27 miles in the last 25 hours! Wow! Go us!
Captain Underpants lent me his air mattress (since he hikes with two mattresses) and I fell fast asleep as soon as my head hit my inflatable pillow. Many thanks to Captain Underpants for the best night of sleep I’ve gotten since my air mattress started leaking!!