Tehachapi was one of our favorite town stops along the PCT last year in 2018. From the time we reached the road into town up until we checked out of our hotel, PCT Mile 566.4 was good to both Bleeder and I and incredibly hiker friendly. We had the easiest hitch into town and didn’t even have to stick our thumbs out. Our hitch not only gave us a ride to our hotel, but they also drove us to the post office and waited for us until we got our packages. We met the nicest people who were super excited about us being in town. Even the businesses were excited to host us. Both the hotel we stayed at and Redhouse BBQ, where we had dinner at gave us a PCT hiker discount. Bleeder and I couldn’t wait to get back into Tehachapi for another zero day this year. But first, we had to get there.
On Day 43, we knew we only had 17 miles to hike until we were at the road to get into town. Making it to Tehachapi would be our big motivator for getting these miles done today. This morning, we woke up at 5:30 to rain pounding on our tent. It’s hard enough to get out of my sleeping bag on a cold morning, but knowing that it’s raining outside makes everything seem impossible. I wasn’t in any hurry to pack up my stuff and start hiking, even though I knew we’d be sleeping in a warm hotel room in Tehachapi that night.
An hour after being woken up to the rain hitting our tent, we eventually got motivated to pack up camp and head on our way wearing all of our rain gear. The first seven miles of the day were a big climb up. Every now and then the rain would stop and the sun would peek out for a second, but for most of the morning, we got rained on. At least Mother Nature treated us to an incredible rainbow along the way.
Usually on big climbs, I insist on taking a break along our way up to the top. Not today. It was way too cold and windy to stop and enjoy a break. If we wanted to stay warm and dry as possible, we had to keep moving. We didn’t give ourselves a break until after the climb was done in seven miles. Even then, we kept the break to a minimum because it was so cold.
After the break, we continued making our way towards Tehachapi. It seemed like the closer we got to town, the weather felt like it was warming up. Eventually the rain stopped, the wind calmed down and the short sun bursts warmed us up enough to take one of our layers off.
On our way down, we hiked through another wind farm, This would be the third wind farm we’d hike through on trail and it was by far the largest wind farm we’d hiked through yet. It wasn’t nearly as windy as the last two wind farms we had hiked through and there were many more windmills all over the place. Even though I was eager to get into town, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this section. I loved it.
Normally the hardest part of getting into town from trail is finding a ride into town. Not in Tehachapi. As soon as we reached the trailhead, Bleeder and I were greeted by a local lady whom had seen Bleeder’s bright orange rain jacket coming down the trail from the road. She pulled over and waited for us to get off trail and offered us a ride into town. One of the many reasons why I loved Tehachapi last year was because we ran into so many nice locals we wanted to help us. This year, it was proving to be a similar experience.
Our incredible hitch dropped us off at our hotel. We checked into our room, took showers, laid out our gear to dry and walked down the street to Redhouse BBQ for dinner. After stuffing ourselves silly with a delicious dinner, we headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening watching crappy TV and vegging out.
The next morning, our zero day started off with being woken up to our neighbors, presumably other thru-hikers, blaring The Doors at full volume. I was extremely tired and all I wanted to do was sleep in. I should’ve been mad when “LA Woman” jolted me wide awake from a complete slumber, but instead all I could do was laugh. “LA Woman” ended up being stuck in my head for the next few days, long after whomever was next door had checked out of the hotel and headed back to the trail.
After getting up and heading down for the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast, we walked down the street to resupply on food, snacks and fuel at the grocery store for the next five-day section on trail. After resupplying, we headed back to our hotel on foot. Along the way, Bleeder couldn’t resist the temptation and stopped by the Dunkin Donuts, bought two donuts and ate them in the parking lot.
Once we were on our way again, a car pulled over with a trail angel driving and a couple hikers as passengers and offered us a ride back to our hotel. Not only did they give us a ride back to our hotel, but they also offered us a ride to and from the post office so we could pick up our packages. This town is so incredibly hiker friendly!
We had some trail magic waiting for us at the post office from friends and family at home. My friend, Amanda had sent us a care package full of luxury bath items and Epsom salt.
My niece, Penny had sent her fairy, Alexa out to bring us a five-pound bag of gummy bears along with a huge bag of blue powdered Gatorade.
Bleeder got his package from REI with a few things he needed that he forgot to pick up in store, back in Hiker Heaven.
For lunch, we treated ourselves to sandwiches at the German bakery.
After lunch, we came back to the hotel and organized our resupply for the upcoming section. We spent the rest of the day relaxing. We did our laundry. I got caught up on some blog post writing. Bleeder went down to the hot tub. We then both vegged out in front of the TV for the rest of the afternoon. After dinner, we saw in the forecast there was a rain storm heading our way the next day. Instead of hiking out in the rain (and possible thunder/lightning storm), we decided to take a second zero day in Tehachapi and extend our hotel room for another night.
In the morning, we made our way down for another complimentary continental breakfast. After breakfast, Bleeder and I had to make some big decisions. The big thought on every thru-hiker’s mind right now is their plan for the Sierra. 2019 is proving to be a record, heavy snowpack year for this section, making it extremely challenging and dangerous to hike through without the right gear, mountaineering experience and route finding skills. Bleeder and I aren’t trained mountaineers and have very little experience hiking through snow. We needed to make a decision about what we were going to be about this upcoming section because it was less than 200 miles from Tehachapi.
Our original plan for our Tehachapi town stop was to spend only one zero day in town and then get back on trail and continue hiking north towards Walker Pass. From Walker Pass, we would hitch into Ridgecrest, rent a car and take a trailcation from the PCT for a week, while waiting for some of the snow to melt. Then we’d decide from here if we’d continue on into the Sierra or flip ahead up the trail to a section that had less snow.
After doing some research, we found there to be quite a few flaws with our original plan. First, we saw that there might be some snow on trail north of Tehachapi, before Walker Pass, and saw there might be more cold, wet and snowy weather heading our way. We were in no hurry to hike back out into crappy weather, especially if there was a threat of snow.
Then, we saw that there was still plenty of snow falling in the Sierra. Taking one week off for a trailcation would NOT be enough time for the heavy snowpack to melt and be somewhat safe for us to hike through, especially if it was STILL snowing. With these current conditions, we knew our only option would be to flip around the Sierra and save this section for the end of the season, long after the last snow fall and hopefully after a bulk of the snowpack melt.
We then had to decide where we’d flip to. Everywhere north of Kennedy Meadows South – Northern California, Oregon and Washington are still covered in snow at this point. Bleeder and I had both been following a few thru-hikers ahead of us to see where they were flipping to. No matter where hikers went, it seemed like everyone was hitting heavy snow at some point on the trail.
Bleeder and I decided to change our plans completely. Instead of hiking out of Tehachapi and heading towards Walker Pass, risking hiking in bad weather, we opted to take our weeklong trailcation early. The next day out of town, we decided to take a bus from Tehachapi to Lancaster, rent a car in Lancaster and go on our trailcation for a week, far from the PCT and any snow covered trail.
After our trailcation, we’d come back to Lancaster to drop off the rental car, hop on the MetroLink towards Los Angeles and then get on an Amtrak train and head towards Seattle. Why Seattle? For one, I have a hometown advantage in Seattle. We could save money by not having to rent a hotel room or a car while staying there waiting for the snow to melt. Also, the PCT is relatively close to Seattle so we could potentially section hike parts of the trail that aren’t covered in snow while waiting for the big sections to melt out. Seemed like a pretty solid plan to us.
Either way, we’d eventually hop back on the PCT in Washington, become SoBos for the rest of our hike and head southbound along the trail, in hopes of finishing our thru-hike with the Sierra section at the end in September.
After deciding on this new plan, we spent the rest of the afternoon making reservations for the rental car, hotel rooms and train rides. Then we let our parents and close friends know of our updated plans so no one knew to worry about our whereabouts over the next week. The rest of the day, we had plenty of time to walk around Tehachapi, eat lunch, eat snacks in the hotel room, write another blog post and watch more crappy TV.
We were resting up for what would prove to be the most epic trailcation ever, thanks to my dear Dad who insisted on sponsoring it. Thanks Daddy-O!
*Stay tuned for the video of our weeklong, epic trailcation I see where we went and what we did!
Want to be an active part of my 2019 PCT thru-hiking experience without having to take a single step? CLICK HERE to be a Trail Angel for my thru-hike this year.