I’ve cowboyed on the lawn of the airport’s park, and the spot is pretty great – flat, out of the light, not too close to anyone. There are earwigs when I wake up, though – in my bag, on me, crawling all over the tyvek. WELP TIME TO GET UP.
We’re all up early, ostensibly to get some miles in, but we all kind of dawdle – no one wants to hitch, and we’re kind of hoping that Legend is going to bring a group by to save us the effort. It’s not until 9am rolls around that we finally decide to take matters into our own hands and head out to the main road to hitch.
Our group is big enough that we need two rides, and I’m in the second one, with a nice lady who’s lived in the area for a couple of years, and is excited about Tehachapi and tourism and and and. She tells us all about the Loop, the only railroad like it in the world, and about maybe joining the trail angels list. We get a little lost on the way to the trailhead, but arrive unscathed and in good spirits.
We thank our ride and Legend throws the extra from breakfast at us – pancakes, soda. Breakfast of champions. He says he’s happy to come and pick us up after we’re done with our nero – he’ll meet us at the highway at 2. So it’s off and away in the growing heat.
There’s really no pressure for us to finish – 8 gentle miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes should be a super solid 2.5 miles an hour. So I’m not worried at all as our line o’ hikers spreads out and folks pass me and the trail meanders through some more windmills. I wonder how much of Tehachapi’s power is generated this way.
I overcome repeated urges to check where I am until a little over an hour into the trip; I expect to see I’ve gone about 3 miles, but I’ve actually gone a little over 4. Holy hell. I puff around the edges a little with pride, keep making my way towards the highway.
We all clump up on the down towards the end; I get passed again as people return from breaks, though I’m met at the bottom with appreciative howling. We wait for the group to reconvene under a sign for the trail. I’m not really sure if people do this section of trail when they’re not obligated to, but if they do – and the signage at the beginning and the end leads me to think they do – I wonder why. It’s a lot of windmills, a lot of up, a lot of heat, which is right up our alley, but why would other, normal humans want that?
It’s a question the group ponders on the roadwalk to the highway, along with the correct pronunciation of “Tehachapi”, efficacies of train transport, and the tricksiness of where to poop when everyone on the highway can see you from here. Even with the wait, we’re on the highway by 1:30, waiting for Legend and Gypsy.
Soon enough, we’re back at the airport and then at the nearby barbecue place – we’ve promised ourselves victory barbecue, and we’re going to deliver. My baked potato is 2lbs, covered in pulled pork and bacon and butter and cheese. I have no regrets, save that I’m not able to immediately finish it.
Then it’s off to the post office, once by car for delicious ginger chews, once the two miles on foot because I left my wallet the last time. The post officer scolds me like she’s my mother, and then my mother scolds me like she’s the post officer.
Then it’s walking to the store to resupply, and while we miss the last showing of X-Men: Apocalypse, a lovely lady gives us a ride for the two miles back to the airport. People in this town are very kind.
Then it’s back to the airport to sort and settle in, do internet chores, and enjoy the company of the hikers rolling in as we bed down on the airport lawn once more.
Start: 558.5 • End: 566.3 • Day: 7.8
Notable Accomplishments: Nearly a 4mph pace! • The Pack has fully accepted me as one of their own • Walked + ate + post officed + resupplied = Holy crap productive day