June 4, 2015
Willow Springs Road-Tehachapi (558.5) to Golden Oaks Spring (583.3)
24.8 PCT miles today
596.3 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,133 ft, – 4,002 ft
Today we made a wonderful discovery, and it made for one of our best days yet. At some point a couple weeks ago, perhaps it was the first day that we turned to our music as a distraction from pain while hiking, we thought about the idea of listening to audiobooks on the trail. But it wasn’t until this morning, while eating breakfast with Mama Bear at McDonalds in Tehachapi that we finally decided to give it a go. We downloaded Amazon’s Audible app, signed up for a free month of audio book membership (audio books are pricey!) and I downloaded The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins on our phone. Once that was done, we started browsing through all the possible audio we could purchase, and we realized the sky was the limit. We can literally devote millions of minutes to anything we want while we hike. We can practice languages (either using language learning software or by just listening to books in another language), listen to BBC’s 26-hour History of the World, study a new subject, or just check off every novel that we’ve ever had the desire to read. It’s really an incredible thing when you think about it…just think how much we could learn while we walk!
Of course, hiking with headphones in makes for a different experience, so today was my first opportunity to really try it out and see what I thought. We left Tehachapi around 8:30am with hopes to hike a whole 25 miles to the first on-trail water source, Golden Oaks Spring. It was a perfect day for hiking – blue skies, cool temps, and much less wind than in the previous days – and we made great time. I listened to my novel the entire day and the hours seemed to just melt away. My feet didn’t hurt, the climbs didn’t slow us down, and neither Pickles nor I complained a single time (Pickles listened to music on the iPod all day). As the day came to a close I checked our mileage to find that we only had about 3 miles to go, and I actually felt grateful that we still had another hour to hike because that meant I could listen to more of my story. I did find it hard to focus very much on my surroundings while still paying attention to the book, so I wouldn’t always want earbuds in (we definitely have no desire to block out nature completely), but it was such a lovely and fun day that we are already talking about what to download next.
We made it to the spring by dinnertime and were surprised to see about 4 other tents already set up here. Clearly, we are hiking ourselves deeper into the large hiker bubble, which we’re fine with for now. We’re meeting new people every day and look forward to the celebration that awaits in Kennedy Meadows…now only 5 days away. In the meantime, perhaps we’ll teach ourselves some quantum physics or Japanese or something. And of course, we’ll always make sure to leave space for the croaking of frogs and the rustle of wind through the trees.
Backpacking Gear of the Week:
A full set of trekking poles
Pickles and I don’t regularly use poles when we hike, so we hesitated when initially deciding whether to brings poles on this trip. We eventually decided that we would each carry one and see what we thought. About a week in, after occasionally using the pair because the other person was busy doing something, we had both decided to carry 2 poles each. We haven’t, even for a minute, regretted that decision. It actually almost feels like cheating sometimes because of the amount of support it provides. It’s like becoming a 4-legged creature. It takes tons of weight off the knees, and helps a lot with balance, especially with a heavier pack, in sand, or at the end of a long day. It took a day or two to get used to, and sometimes I miss having my hands free, but our trekking poles aren’t going anywhere. And as a side note, our poles aren’t anything special…mine are actually my backcountry ski poles and Pickles found his used for $10. This is not a piece of gear that you need to dish out a bunch of money for.
Backpacking Food of the Week:
ProBar Meal Bars
These things are incredible. They have up to 380 calories in one small bar, and the best part is that the calories come from real, whole food ingredients, so you actually feel like your getting nutrition along with energy. We eat these when we’re feeling extra hungry or just when we feel like getting an extra boost of fruits and veggies.