May 25, 2017
Landers Camp – Bird Spring Pass (608.91-630.87)
Waking up when it’s still dark is hard to do. Especially when there’s a strong cold wind blowing. Extricating myself from my sleeping bag was a slow process this morning, but I eventually managed to get up, fill my water to maximum capacity, and start hiking. We started out in the pine forest, which quickly changed to an open, rocky landscape. I could see glimpses of the sunrise through the trees, and it looked pretty spectacular, but we were stuck in the forest and couldn’t get a good view.
I felt like I was chasing views all morning. Every time we crested a hill, I expected to see some glorious view spread out in front of me, but over and over again the hill just gave way to another hill. But eventually, it did happen, and the view was definitely worth the wait. The mountains rolled off into the distance as far as the eye could see, illuminated with the first light of morning. It was super beautiful. The trail wound through a dry, scrubby forest on the edge of the ridge, and it made for great morning hiking.
I crossed paths with a man hiking south, and he told me that there was plenty of water at both the potential water caches today, which made me super happy. After about 7 miles, I arrived at the first cache, where there was not only water, but a cooler of strawberry daiquiris. And they were still cold! Magic! Nothing like a bit of alcoholic kool-aid at 8:30 in the morning. Peanut, Katie, and Strongback were also at the cache, and it was good to see them again. I chugged almost a litre of water before moving on.
As I left the water cache, the landscape changed again, back to scrubby, sandy desert hills. I’ll never get over how much the landscape can vary in a single day of hiking. I put some music on and crushed some uphill miles. The day quickly became hot. The trail was completely exposed, and the sun was beating down. I staggered along, looking desperately for some small patch of shade. Eventually, I found a large Joshua tree that was actually casting some usable shade, and collapsed in it. It turned out that that spot had the first cell service we’d had in a while, and to my dismay I discovered an email from REI saying my payment hadn’t gone through on my order of new shoes. For days, all I’ve been thinking about is how excited I am for new shoes. Mine are pretty worn out and my feet are definitely feeling it. I immediately tried to call them to put the order in again, but there was a bit of a struggle because they apparently can’t rush ship to general delivery addresses. And then the service cut out. It just disappeared. I still didn’t have an order for new shoes, and we had also wanted to phone the motel in Lake Isabella to book a room.
I got up and slowly walked on for a bit, hoping the service would return, but nothing. Eventually I gave up and just started hiking, but quickly realized I had forgotten to eat lunch when my stomach started protesting loudly. After about a mile, I found another patch of Joshua tree shade and sat down again. I turned and saw Gummies was on his phone… There was service! We were able to book a room and I could rush order my new shoes to be delivered right at the motel. The day was back at a high point. We sat there for quite a while, not wanting to leave the shady spot. But camp was only 6 miles away, so we eventually convinced ourselves to move on.
The trail wound up and down through the desert hills. A cool wind had picked up, which was nice because it kept the heat at bay. We passed the marker for 1000 kilometres, which was pretty exciting. It’s hard to believe we’ve actually hiked that far. It wasn’t long before we made it to Bird Spring Pass, which has great views both to the east and west. And there was another water cache! The people that put these things out here are seriously our saviours. The one thing about this spot is there’s a road right beside us, and a couple of guys were riding by on four wheelers earlier and obnoxiously spraying us with dust. It’s super windy tonight, but we managed to find a somewhat sheltered spot to cowboy camp behind a Joshua tree. We got a great view of the sunset, and there should be an awesome sunrise tomorrow. We’re going to sleep in a bit to watch the sunrise from camp. Tomorrow is pretty much the last day into town!