Day 31: Back from the Brink

1 May 2021 
Tylerhorse Canyon to Tehachapi Willow Springs Road
PCT Mile 541.5 to 558.5

Well, I got another 5 hours of sleep last night after fixing my tent collapse, waking up well after sunrise. Not my first choice, but my body clearly needed the extra sleep!

There were two newcomers at the water source this morning. I ate breakfast while chatting with them. They had walked 24 miles all night and intended to hike another 17 today for a total of 41! Crazy. They looked so tired…. I wonder if they made it.

I packed up and started a 4 mile up and down climb to get over to Gamble Spring Canyon. It was cooler this morning, but haze rolled in and brought the humidity with it. My shirt was already soaked by the time I had my first break. No Filter was there and we chatted for a bit.

Looking back on the wind farm
Naked buckwheat

And then the real fun began: a 1600 foot climb to get up to the peak of our ridge today. The reward: it was mostly downhill after that.

It was hard. But not nearly as bad as yesterday. My biggest problem was that I was sweating out water too fast, and I was worried I would run out well before the place where I planned to hitch into Tehachapi.

Beach suncup
Desert sand verbena
Making progress
Bird’s eye gilia
Almost there

At the top of the climb there is a weird trail magic place in the middle of nowhere with overflowing garbage cans, a pantry full of books and useless food items (a can of yams?).

And sometimes there is water.

But not today.

Oh well. I didn’t linger.

I would feel more welcome if the water bottles were full….

Instead I did my break under some lovely pine trees about half a mile on, scarfing down some ramen and brooding about how little water I had left.

Rough nama
Covington Mountain

And then, when I started hiking again, I found this:

The trail provides!

It was unopened and delicious and exactly how much water I needed to make it the rest of the way down.

Desert pincushion
Starting down
Mojave desertparsley

The trail follows a ridge down, and after a while it enters yet another area where persistent winds power huge wind turbines.

On the ridge
Across the way
Down in the valley

When I was close enough to the end to get cell service, I checked the weather to decide whether or not to stay one night or two in Tehachapi. I was feeling bad about doing two nights (dumb I know!) so when I saw that the winds would be crazy the next two nights, I literally jumped for joy. The Universe was giving me permission to take a zero.

Boy do I need it!

I was suddenly the happiest hiker on trail, and I finished the last 6 miles in just two hours. Normally that would blow out my knees, but I just floated all the way down.

Joshua trees hang over the trail
A gray pine
Goodding’s willow

Near the end I passed Andrew, the missing hiker the police were looking for yesterday. He was section hiking with his mom Teresa, who is trying to go all the way to Canada. Apparently, he had gotten some really bad nosebleeds and was feeling awful, so they were taking their time.

At the bottom I ran into Sunfox, another “redditor on the PCT.” She had arranged a ride with Andrew and Teresa, whose husband was coming to pick them up, but she was thinking of hitching anyway since it might be a while before they showed up. She told me to go ahead to the road by myself and she might join me in a bit.

So I did. And once again I waited 0 minutes for a ride. Trail angel Cheryl was already there waiting in the parking lot. She greeted me like she had known me forever! She asked if any more hikers were coming, so I put my bag in her car and ran back to Sunfox to tell her we had a ride. Just then Captain Steve showed up too, and the three of us all piled in with Cheryl.

Thank you Cheryl!

She dropped us at our hotel, where check-in was not for another couple of hours, so Sunfox, Captain Steve and I went to lunch at the sushi place next door. It was wonderful!

Then check-in, laundry, and a shower. And did I mention beer? A housekeeper found 5 bottles of Kona blonde left in one of the rooms she was cleaning and when I was going to the laundry room she asked if I wanted them. Yes!

Later on, Sunfox organized a dinner at Big Papa’s Steakhouse for the three of us plus Spotter and Woody, two other members of her extended trail family. It was great fun.

Captain Steve, Sunfox, Spotter, Woody, et moi

We also hung out after at the hotel for a bit with some beers and taking turns playing music from Spotify, but by 10pm it was bedtime for all of us!

Yesterday I was ready to quit. And today I am overjoyed thinking about pressing on. Life is good.

Here’s today’s Hike-U:

Listen to Your Body
If you need a break
Don’t let anyone say no
Including yourself

6 Comments Add yours

  1. P says:

    What a remarkable recovery! You are amazing.
    What’s the thru-hiker’s slogan? “Don’t quit on a bad day.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      True! I definitely need to remember that.


  2. LauriEsss says:

    All the blessings: water, ride angel AND beer! PCT Gods are smiling down on you. Enjoy your Zero and then “head ’em up and move ’em out!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      Thanks Laurie! 🙂


  3. LauriEsss says:

    We love you. Your posts are a new topic on conversation at night, AND my dad talks to me about it on our phone calls!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JimmyJam says:

      I love you guys too and thanks for coming along! 🙂


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