June 2, 2015
Hwy 138-Santa Clarita (517.6) to Tentsite past wind farm (540.3)
22.7 PCT miles today
553.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 1,756 ft, – 425 ft
Tonight we tried something new, and learned a lot in the process. This morning began with breakfast at the Hyatt, and then we were off running a few errands before heading back to the trail. The plan was to attempt our first night-hike, since the stretch leaving Hikertown is pretty notorious for being a horribly dry and hot section of the trail. We figured we’d start at 4pm and hopefully hike our planned 22 miles within 7 hours, getting us to camp by 11pm. As far as night hiking goes, conditions were prime. It was cool by late afternoon when Mama Bear dropped us back off at Hwy 138 and we knew it would be a full moon, so we hoped that would help illuminate the desert around us. We were also coming off of a zero and a full morning off so we felt especially ready to get in some more miles.
The whole first half of the hike was on a flat, straight dirt road and we cruised along at a great speed, enjoying the sunset, if not the monotony of road walking. By the time the moon came out and lit our path, we had gotten off the road and had started to walk through a huge wind farm, the tall white windmills surrounding us on all sides and spinning away in jet-like fashion, hard at work making energy. We quickly discovered exactly why someone chose this piece of land for wind energy; the wind came in fierce gusts, almost blowing us over at times. As the hours went by, any enjoyment we had been getting from our evening in the desert began to diminish, and was replaced instead by dread. Our bodies ached from all the road walking (my right foot was totally cramped up and Pickles’ hip was bothering him), the wind was an annoying and constant struggle, every time I looked around with my headlamp I’d spot spiders (which I hate) or think I saw a snake in the trail (it was always just a twig), and to top it all off, we were exhausted. We normally go to sleep around 8pm on the trail, so by 10 we felt more like zombies than hikers.
The less we enjoyed ourselves, the slower we got, and by the time we made it to camp, tired cranky and sore, it was past midnight and we passed out, completely dismissing our normal routines and habits (including writing this blog). By the end of the night we were vowing to never again hike past 8pm. Perhaps a better plan would be for us to wake up extra early if we really feel the need to beat the heat. We’re glad we gave it a shot, and can understand why it works for some other people, but Pickles and I will be happy to get back to our normal routine after catching up on tonight’s missed sleep.