Posts Tagged ‘Virgo’

We reached Kennedy Meadows right as the sun had begun to set, painting the sky in pink and orange.  We found all kinds of people who had gotten ahead of us: Navi, Natty, Bolt, Hollywood, Mellow Yellow, and Beef Nugget.  We had gone straight to “the internet cafe” AKA Tom’s Place which was a collection of vintage trailers, hammocks, an outdoor movie theater and packed with hiker trash.


Trip had gotten lots of extra beer since he had made the general store hours for all of the people he knew were behind.  Natty handed us some beer as well after having quite a few drinks at happy hour.  Virgo also handed me a nice cold beer in exchange for his hat that I found 7 miles back on the trail.

We all hung out, ate dinner, then Hop-a-long and I watched the old western movie Tom had put on while Dead Animal and Gadget went with Natty to a bar a few miles down the road.  Hop and I chose to sleep on the platform under the movie screen when it was done which seemed more comfortable at the beginning of the night than in the morning.

The next day, we zero’ed to get everything done.  We had to hang out until the general store opened at 9am because we could only sleep in until about 6:30am.  We got food as soon as it opened, signed up for laundry, and waited for the showers to have enough water in the tanks.

After the alloted 5 minute outdoor shower, we set up on their large porch, opening bear canisters, dealing with food, and enjoying the loaner clothes Tom had provided.  Inspector Gadget was fully enjoying a mu-mu large floral dress with a zipper down the front.  At first he attempted the no underwear approach, but that didn’t work too well.

That night, the four of us shared a trailer which completely distracted us from an early morning start.  We meant to get up and leave before the store opened, but before we knew it, we found ourselves sitting there eating breakfast with everyone. Sparrow and Barracuda joined us in waiting forever for food.  When breakfast finished, it was already 10:30am.

Our next challenge was fitting the damn bear canister into our packs.  It upset the order of everything and added almost an extra 2 pounds.  The stupid thing made all of our packs look huge as we weighed them all on luggage scales hanging from a tree.

After that ordeal, we decided lunch was in order, so back to the general store we went where we chatted with Trip, Virgo, and the Canadians, one of which would leave before closing his tab.  Whoops.  Yogi’s guidebook even made a note to close your tab.

All of a sudden, Inspector Gadget came up with a plan.  He had convinced someone to give us a ride up to the Kennedy Meadows Campground, three trail miles ahead, and we would slackpack back to Tom’s place for Taco dinner.  In no time, we left with nothing but a map and a liter of water each, all in loner skirts for the hell of it.

The three miles was sandy and nothing remarkable happened besides finishing quickly and eating delicious tacos.  For us veggies Tom even made soy chorizo fake meat stuff which tasted delicious.

Finally, when we made it back to the trail, we decided to stealth camp in the campground.  It was a fee spot, so we just went into the trees and cowboy camped, figuring we’d be awake and gone by the time anyone checked.

The long climb began after that and the zero and nero had zapped some motivation from us.  We had to get over 10,400 feet about 20 miles in from the campground.  The first 2,000 feet up was fairly pleasant.

Eventually, we decided nap time was in order at a bridge after 12 miles.  Then, as we walked up, we see none other than Tom!  He had driven around and walked in 1.5 miles with Griffon Noir, Kushy, Crash, Dip, and one or two other hikers just bouncing between trail angels.  Tom had loaded them all up with beer, food, and margaritas which they had chilling in the stream when we arrived.  What great unexpected trail magic!

We ate and drank delicious margaritas, napped, and played in the stream for a few hours before escaping the vortex for a second time.  The going was slow and the last 2,000 feet up got steeper and steeper.  Between the higher altitude and our newly heavy packs (damn you bear can), we went super slow.

Buffet, Mr. C, June, Taka, and Flatlander made it to a nice spot with a trickling water source.  We took our chances that the last water before the top was running a little over a mile further and kept going.  Lucky for us, it was flowing better than their trickle and we had a pretty good campsite.  Dead Animal saw a small bear about halfway between their campsite and ours, running away.

In the morning, we finished climbing in the cold wind for a time.  I took some vitamin I for the headache that had grown as I climbed.  Since we have really only gone above 8,000 feet two or three times on the trail so far, my body was not used to it, combined with rapid weather changes and lugging that bear canister (the evil thing).

Once one goes up, one must go down, then of course, up some more.  We decided 10:30am was lunch time and cooked by the stream at the bottom, a mere 7 miles from where we camped.  That entire day, it seemed like we took a massive amount of breaks, and we weren’t the only ones.  Everyone felt sluggish.

We crossed Death Canyon Creek which was nasty stagnant water caked in mosquitos.  Good thing a spring was .2 off right near it!  The climb after that seemed to take forever in the heat which was uncomfortable, but not unbearable.  If we had not been at 9,000 feet at the beginning of the climb, we would have been posted up under a tree, sleeping in the shade.

Eventually, we reached the top, then down a wee bit to the water source.  We saw Dazzle’s pack by a tree, so we sat down to eat first and see what Dazzle said about the water .3 miles off.  When he didn’t come back for 40 minutes, Dead Animal and I went to investigate while Hop-a-long made quesadillas.

We found Dazzle coming back and he said it was stagnant pools at the top and to get flowing water, you had to go about .6 down.  We decided to look at the stagnant pools.  Due to tired laziness, we grabbed water there which came out surprisingly clear, but with floaties.  I somehow managed a pine needle in one bottle.  We definitely treated it since we saw some bird poop right above the deepest pool (which was about 4 inches deep) at mile 736.

Yogi’s guidebook had suddenly become infinitely more important now that AsABat’s water report for SoCal ended at Kennedy Meadows.  It was certainly a mind shift actually looking through it.

We stayed there that night because we could and we had plenty of food.  Buffet, Mr. C, Dazzle, Taka, June, and Flatlander all stayed as well.  The mosquitos were out, but not in super full force.

A mere 8 miles from a pass to town, we breezed through the first six since they primarily went downhill.  Yogi warned that the saddles were confusing and it was hard to tell which spring was in which saddle.  She was right, but other hikers had written “H2O” with an arrow in sticks and that helped a lot.  When we got to the Diaz Creek one, we found a note that said if you can make it, go 1.3 to a spring further on.  Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, and I did just that.  We hadn’t seen Inspector since he put his dress on at camp though.

We only had 400 ft of climbing to get to 10,500 where we got to drop 600 feet to Horseshoe Campground, when we ran into a guy with a dog heading south.  At once all of us knew it was Lee, Sparrow’s husband meeting up to hike with her and Barracuda.

Shortly there after, we plunged down the pass on a side trail to the road for town.

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After another 15 mile morning, we got down through some ridiculous heat to some of the best trail magic yet.  Jack-a-lope, her son Bear Bait, and Okie Girl had a sweet set up of tents and all the food you could imagine.  Jack-a-lope was also vegan gluten-free so she helped me out with a veggie burger, curry quinoa, and a veggie dog.  It was the best feeling ever to come down and see the tents there.

We got a ride super easily out of Walker Pass in the nick of time to catch the Post Office in Onyx.  At the last minute, we all decided to go into Lake Isabella because we desperately needed showers and clean socks.  The crusty, sweaty, dirt caked socks just weren’t doing it.

An orange picked us up in the form of a man named Kyle who taught Dead Animal and I all about dirt bikes and dirt biking trails in the area.  He was also kind enough to wait for us while we grabbed our boxes from the post office and dropped us off at the cheap motel with a pool in town.

That evening, we played in the cold pool on the neo-air, drank some beers, did sink laundry (the laundromat was a mile and a half away…i.e. screw that), ate boatloads of food, and watched some shitty television.  Quickly we realized that the town was full of crazy desert people.  I seriously believe the heat screws with your mind out here, kinda fries your brain a little.  Everyone was incredibly friendly, just some were out there a little ways.  We knew we had to keep walking or we would become crazy desert people.

The morning progressed slowly as we still recovered from the amount of wind and sun we went through the previous days.  We grabbed lunch at the locals diner before trying to get back to the trail, which was deliciously awesome.  They even clapped for us when they realized we’d hiked from Mexico.

Hop-a-long and Inspector Gadget got a ride relatively quickly with some church ladies who weren’t even going to Walker Pass but they wanted to help them out since they “looked normal.”  Dead Animal and I had a bit of a harder time getting out.  One crazy desert lady yelled “GET A JOB!” out her window at us.  An awesome couple crossing the road near us came over and gave us two bus tickets which would get us up to Onyx again and hitch from there since if one drove near Onyx, they were pretty much going to cross the pass anyway.  After 45 minutes of waves, we went and caught the bus with Magellan and some definitely crazy desert people.

The three of us got there, then within five minutes, we got a ride from Pops and his chihuahua.

“Just don’t pet the dog,” Pops said while the little thing sat on his shoulders while he drove.  Naturally, Magellan goes and tries to pet it and it almost bites his fingers off in a yippy dog frenzy.

Pops told us all kinds of things.  One of which included how to de-smellify skunks.

“Yeah, ya just pick ’em up by the tail, put some wet bear skin on their butts and the smell sacks pop out.  Then ya just pinch the suckers off!  No more smell,” Pops informed us.

When we got back to Walker Pass, we huddled under the semi-shade of a Joshua tree for two hours, next to a tiki statue while we waited out the heat.  We had a nice big climb to start with which turned out to not be too bad, just hot.  Once we got up to the first saddle, we took a small break to grab some grub and battle some ants.

In the third saddle, we stopped to celebrate the “under 2,000 miles to go” mark.  There, we realized that we had better 3G there than in town.  Eventually, we knew we didn’t really want to hike seven more miles to the water, but we left the decision to Dice Bear Pig (a beanie baby like thing that Hop-a-long and I found on top of the Banning movie theater and convinced Dead Animal to carry at Ziggy and the Bear).  Heads up and we stayed, butt up and we hiked on.  Heads up.  We stayed.

We actually walked back just a tad to the better camp area where we found Magellan setting up.  Hop-a-long spearheaded a small fire that we all sat around.  Before long, Virgo, Trip, and House (formerly known as Marcus) showed up and joined our party. Since we hadn’t seen them in a few days to several weeks, we stayed up late.  House had left Klondike in Tehachapi because he desperately needed new shoes, so he was planning on waiting for him in Kennedy Meadows.

The next morning, the trail continued up and up on the contour of the same ridge as we hopped from saddle to saddle.  The next water, Joshua Tree Spring, had a warning on it since it apparently contained a bit of uranium, but the water report said it was still ok to drink.

I had left before everyone but Magellan, so when the others came up, they had a small story to tell.  They all reported seeing a small bear cub sitting in the middle of the trail.  After determining that the mama bear was nowhere around, they grouped together making a lot of noise and got it to get off the trail a wee bit to pass.

The five miles between the spring and the next creek was so hot my eyeballs started sweating and I wondered if I was becoming something of a crazy desert person.  I found House, Virgo, Trip, and Magellan in a small camp area near the water and joined them.  Hop-a-long and Dead Animal showed up not long after and we cooked, read, and napped through the heat.

After that, we had a monstrously hot devil climb.  It just kept going up, we were tired, Inspector had a head ache that was maybe turning into a migraine, and we had to get some afternoon miles in.

We found someone’s water filter at the last water before the climb and I packed it to Kennedy Meadows, hoping it was someone’s so I didn’t have the extra weight.  At the first of two saddles in the climb, we stopped and watched the sunset as clouds appeared off in the distance.  We watched them, remembering the concept of clouds since we had not seen any in quite a while.

On the ridge walk, occasionally we would hit a nice flat spot for camping and debate about it.  Near one, we saw two bright things reflecting back at our headlamps at the perfect bear-eye level, so we immediately made loud noises.  It turned out to be Magellan’s trekking poles and we woke him up by accident.  He must really hate us for being loud at night every time he’s near us.

We ended up camping on top of the ridge right before descending.  Since Inspector was behind, we left Hop-a-long’s distinctive poles in the middle of the trail with an arrow to the spot we found.

In the morning, we got motivated early.  I was hiking ten minutes before six a.m.  The first five miles downhill was easy-squeazy.  At the bottom, a creek ran nicely for some dip-cup bottle fill action and had a nice bucket of trail magic beer in it.  We found Trip, Virgo, and House there getting water in the morning and we all headed out for the long ass climb ahead.  Once you go up, you must go down.  And none of them had a filter that they lost.

The climb took forever, the heat had set in, and for some reason, I moved sooooo slowly.  I had drunk plenty of water and eaten normally, but I just went slowly.  I found the Canadians, Julia and Brian, from a long time ago who had become Buffet and Mr. C.  They had extra vegan electrolyte packs and gave me some to suck down which made me feel ten times better and got me the last 800 feet up the ridge.

That day, we hiked straight through the heat, despite its terrible hotness and soul sucking.  By 2pm, we had already done 18 miles and had another 8 to go to Kennedy Meadows.  I huddled under a bush at the bottom of the ridge for shade for an hour and a half, then sucked it up and kept hiking.

The trail went through the valley for 8 miles to the road we needed so desperately.  Right before leaving, we noticed Magellan had left part of his gravity water filter behind, so I packed that out.  Then two miles up the trail, I found Virgo’s hat just laying there, so I packed that too.  At that point, I thought they were playing a joke on me since I had that other damn filter with no owner.

We trudged on, cursing the sand all the way to Kennedy Meadows, the gateway landmark before the Sierras.

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