MILES 160-650, APPROACHING THE SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAIN RANGE
Hitching a ride into Ridgecrest, home of the Edwards Air Force Base.
In a few days we will be at Kennedy Meadows (mile 702) which signifies the entrance to the Sierra Nevada Range and record snowfall this year. Because of the high snow level, steep passed, and melt-off making fording waterways dangerous, most hikers have changed their plans. Some are traveling to the Northern Terminus in Canada and going south, while others are skipping 400ish miles ahead, continuing north and may come back after the melt (known as "flipping") and although not ideal, it's reality.
Jack is bent on not flipping while I do not see much of an option for safety and sanity. Trudging through the "sturdy" snow from 2am to noon to have a better footing, avoid post holeing, having constant wet feet, and carrying 8-9 days of food, let alone the high and steep traverses, doesn't sound entertaining or safe to me. I think reality will set in shortly and we will skip ahead somewhere north of Sacramento. If we do skip ahead we plan to flip back down to Kennedy Meadows after reaching the Northern Terminus in Canada, to finish the trail somewhere north of the Yosimite Valley floor.
Below are some photos beginning with "HikerTown", north of the Indland Empire by an hour's drive or so.
HikerTown was the highlight of this section. My college roommate, Steve, who has lived in SoCal since graduating, drove to HikerTown and made us a steak dinner on his BBQ! It was great to see him and share some of the trail experience with a lifelong friend. Steve is a gem.
HikerTown was goofy. Out in the middle of the desert with an eclectic vibe, sits a 3-5 acre parcel of dirt with makeshift buildings put together for hikers. A note on the bathroom door reads "if you are a guy and need to pee go find a tree". Meaning there are a lot of hikers to share the toilet with, so use this bathroom sparingly, oh, and there is only a tree or two around, but a dozen or so old, broken down vehicles you could hide behind if need be. The owner takes "donations" and in return you get a place to hang out for the night with other hikers before beginning a long, barren, hot section known as the "LA Aqueduct". After listing to a few guys on acid sing "500 miles" a dozen times, we left HikerTown at 6:30pm to beat the heat. Watching the sun go down and the full moon light up the sky and trail was magical, especially experiencing it with my son. After 16 miles north we pitch our tents and hit the sack around 2am.
The center of HikerTown.
The LA Aqueduct.
A large windfarm north of the LA Aqueduct.
These Horned Lizards are the coolest. She looks cranky, but was friendly.
Taming the wild?
Almost out of the desert. Zoey's last night on the trail before heading back to the UK. After 600 miles, we will miss Snake Charmer. Zoey spied four rattle snakes in the first two days, hence her trail name Snake Charmer. I was with her when one struck towards us. She scared me more than the snake.
Old Yeller was handing out coffe, muffins and stories around the campfire at 6:30 in the morning. Thanks Old Yeller!
Another Trail Angle. Thank God for Trail Angles. This Angle provides water to hikers between a 15-30 mile dry stretch so hikers don't have to carry liters of water at 2.2 pounds per liter.
The terrain is gradually changing. We watched a storm from the ridge that we thought we would avoid, but somehow we ended in the thick of it.
After the storm. Wet, cold and hungry hikers communing at Walker Pass Campground.