Recharging in Hiker Heaven and Hiker Town
Hiker Heaven was, as the name suggests, a truly brilliant place on trail. The Saufleys, our trail hosts, and all the volunteers do an amazing job of making sure all needs are covered, right down to q-tips in the bathroom. We were able to fully recharge our legs and spend time catching up with other hikers. We also enjoyed a Mexican meal out along with Jen’s first trip to Walmart which was a little overwhelming. The store is just huge! Whilst we were at Hiker Heaven, Switchback, a fellow hiker from Israel baked homemade bread and French toast which tasted fantastic. We also played lots of card games with Blunty and Emily, the British couple we’ve been hiking with for a while.
Weight (ours and our packs)
Whilst at Hiker Heaven were able to eat a massive amount of calories to make up for the deficit we have on trail. So far Joal has lost about 10kg whilst Jen has lost 6. One of the things we noticed from our resupply is we are only eating a mere 2000 calories whilst we are probably burning 5000+. The result is we’ve had to add more snacks to our diet.
This is our resupply for the next 6 days walking, with breakfast at the top down to dinner at the bottom. Unfortunately our water carries have gotten longer so that means our packs are really heavy combined with the 6 days of food, our longest stretch so far. We carried 4 litres of water out of Hiker Heaven which meant Joal’s pack was 18kg whilst Jen carried 15.
Casa de Luna
From Hiker Heaven to the next trail angel’s house was 25 miles. We split this into 2 easy days so did a 15 mile and a 10 mile into their house. This walk was pretty easy and meant we could take a lot of snack breaks in the sun and rest our legs. After a month on trail we both feel vindicated by the decision to do this for our time out of work. Whilst challenging in both body and spirit, it certainly is rewarding, with different scenery each day. In this stretch we had grassy meadows and the first trees on trail that were not pine trees. We also found a cave which was kinda cool.
We ended up camping on a ridge with our trail family, who have now called themselves Trailpool Karaoke. This is due to the amount of singing we do, mainly to James Blunt. I don’t think there has been a day since Idyllwild where I haven’t sung a James Blunt lyric – something I wouldn’t have predicted before coming out here.
The two shorter days to Casa de Luna were a well deserved break in pace. So far we’ve stuck to our initial itinerary, and as the itinerary doesn’t up the daily miles this means it should get better from here on in, except for maybe in the Sierras where we will have to carry lots of food.
When we arrived at the trailhead we hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck to Casa de Luna or “the hiker place where people drink” as our driver put it. Casa de Luna was a brilliant retreat. Upon arrival we were made to wear a Hawaiian shirt and were given a tour of the property which includes a disk golf course and a forest where we set up camp. This forest is really something else and here is a video of Jenny, Snack Pack and me picking out a spot.
One we found our way back to the house we engaged in another tradition, painting a rock. These all go all over the property and include cool pictures, inspirational quotes or just funny phrases. It was then time for taco salad, the Casa staple. There is one main rule when eating, which is not to serve yourself over the pot. Many people got this wrong including Jenny who as a consequence got whacked with a stick.
After dinner the lights turned to a disco and everyone had to dance individually to earn their PCT bandana! After a few beers we all headed back to our tents although it took a while to find it in the maze.
The next couple of days were tough on the legs. Joal’s knees are hurting now and our muscles are starting to tire from the constant pounding and weight of water during this dry stretch. In this section we walked through the Mojave so we had 20+ mile sections without water. As a result we took the opportunity to night hike the worst sections. This included a 17 mile stretch across the desert floor alongside the LA aqueduct and a wander through America’s largest wind farm.
One night when we got in at dark we got set up to cowboy camp and realised there was a hole in the sleeping pad. As a result we had a really tough night’s sleep before we could get around to repairing it. The next day we had a siesta for 5 hours which helped get us out of the heat and make up for lost sleep.
During this stretch we also hit the 500 mile marker. This was a big morale boost and we spent about an hour filming ourselves dancing by the sign. Well, actually there were 4 signs so we stopped by all of them. It is crazy to think we’ve walked the equivalent distance of London to Inverness and we are less than 20 percent of the way through.
In the evening we hit Hiker Town. This was one of the most random things we’ve ever encountered. The backstory to this place is that a couple who used to live here kept having hikers knock on the door asking for water, as this is a very hot and remote area. After a while the owners embraced the hikers and built a shack for them to sleep in. The whole property is now full of shacks and it looks like a mini Wild West. We were lucky enough to meet the owner, Richard, who liked Jenny’s English accent and gave us a ride to the local shop in his Rolls Royce. This is the smelliest we’ve ever been in the flashiest car we’ve ever sat in!
When we got to the shop Richard also showed us around his office. He works in film and oil and used to help with the American relationship with the Philippines. As a result he knows a lot of famous people. We saw pictures of him with Trump, Kevin Spacey, an Arab prince and more. He told us that hanging out with hikers is more his style as the stories are more interesting. After politely declining to hang out in Hollywood with him, we camped out in his yard.
The final Stretch into Tehachapi was a bit more relaxed apart from the heat. In this section we ended up doing 65miles over 3 days and experiencing the hottest weather so far as we travelled through the Mojave desert. Once in town we booked into a hotel to shower, swim and relax. We even had Thai food – Jens favourite! We’re now at mile 565 with one final stretch left before we enter the daunting Sierras!