Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tehachapi to my first Marathon

I shouldn't have slept in the hotel room with the others in Tehachapi. I yogied my way into sharing a hotel room for $15, but it was smelly and the air conditioning was noisy and the others stayed up late so I tried to sleep with the lights on. I didn't sleep well.

I got up by my alarm at 5:30 and went outside to wait for my ride to the trail at 6. I stopped next door at Kelcy's for coffee. Al was there, too.

Mud Elephant said he had room for all of us, but there was no way for all of us and our big packs to fit. So I got out to wait for a second shift of rides. It worked out better this way anyway since not all of us were going to the same trailhead.

I got to the trail at Cameron Road at 7, which was plenty early. The hiking went well. It was a reasonable temperature and my umbrella helped with the intense sun and heat.

Around 1pm I made it to Golden Oak Spring, a delightful oasis in the middle of dry pinyon pine and juniper forest. Windmills spun furiously like jet airplanes overhead.

Two section hikers were camped there, suffering from blisters and trying to learn from thru-hikers how to go lighter. I wished I had told them that the trick is to think of this not as a camping trip but as a hiking trip. Throw out everything you have that is for camping. Keep only what is for hiking. Then add back only what is necessary to eat and sleep, and keep those to the bare minimum. You want to be warm, dry and safe, but you don't need any "comforts" beyond that.

Instead I showed them some of my gear, such as my cook kit which consists of a yogurt container for a bowl, a 1 liter cook pot with a homemade lid (because the one that comes with is too heavy), a homemade windscreen and a homemade alcohol stove made from a tiny V8 can. It weighs very little and serves me very well. I also suggested they go to Onyx and send home extra weight from the post office there. Get rid of it quick before it ruins the trip.

Soon Al and some other hikers, River and Petal and Mowgly arrived at the spring. We all rested, cooked and drank our fill for about 2 hours. I decided that if I left at 3pm I'd have time to make another 10 miles for my first marathon of the trail.

At 3pm I saddled up and away I went. It was pretty hot out. Sometimes I think it's hotter from 3-5pm than at any other time of day.

At 5 I stopped to make some dinner. I noticed that I was starting to get hungrier lately. I cooked up some delicious cous-cous with tuna, fresh broccoli, curry and olive oil. It was good enough fare to eat at home. I got the recipe from my friend Rik.

Mowgley came by while I was eating and sat with me for a while. When I got up to go, he hung back.

I walked on and found a neat spot to sleep among some low oak trees on a ridge just a quarter mile shy of the 10 miles I had hoped to make. It was a neat spot to sleep, but there were too many foxtails. I could hear cattle lowing as I fell asleep under the stars.

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