Great Western Loop: Day 189 - 193: Lone Pine to Tehachapi
Day 189: Another storm (0miles)
The day started with clear blue skies and beautiful sunshine. I was tempted to leave, but resisted as a big storm was scheduled to hit after 10-11am.
Staying in town was the right call.
Just after 10am the wind picked up significantly. Dust, papers, cartons and a lot of other stuff was flying through the city and when i had to change the motel, a truck trailer got pushed by the wind onto a truck and damaged it. CalTrans later on closed the highway to Inyokern. At the end of the day 14 trucks got pushed over on a nearby parking lot.
(Mountains covered in a snow storm)
Day 190: Detour (15miles)
The storm continued on day 190, but was less intense and the highway had reopened. With another foot of snow, however, going back into the mountains and over Forester Pass didn't seem safe yet.
I therefore opted for the bus towards Pearsonville to bypass the snow. My plan was to take an old indian trail to Kennedy Meadows. Unfortunately, me and the bus driver had a misunderstanding, of where i wanted to get dropped off. Instead of taking the Sacatar Trail, i ended up on the Kennedy Meadows road and started hiking.
A few hours later, i got picked up by Devilfish and made it to Kennedy Meadows in the early afternoon. I called Jacky from TCO to open her store, resupplied and left Kennedy Meadows just before 5pm.
Day 191: Guiness (31miles)
The day started with a long climb of 2,100ft (640m) on which Alex (Guiness) caught up to me. We spent the rest of the day hiking together.
As expected, water sources for the day were limited. Only every 15-20miles (24-32km) a reliable source, or a water cache could be found.
The day's climbs offered some great views into the Mojave desert and we started seeing more snakes than in the weeks before, however no rattlesnakes so far.
We found a small trickle of water at the first crossing of Spanish Needle Creek and stopped for lunch. Just half an hour later, we ran into a black bear at the second crossing.
We camped at Joshua Tree Spring. Rumours say that there's uranium in the water, but several official signs pointed to the spring and we therefore considered it to be safe. The spring offered a great, sheltered campsite for the night.
Day 191: Alone again (33miles)
I left the campsite just before sunrise. Guiness left some 10minutes later.
Less than half an hour after hiking out, i passed a small forest of Joshua trees and in one of those trees, a black bear was hiding. He hastily climbed down the tree, when i approached and disappeared into the bush.
After an initial climb of 2,000ft (600m) i got some great views on the valley on the other side and saw an SAR (search and rescue) helicopter fly by.
I expected Guiness to catch up, as i refilled my water at a cache, provided by some locals at Walker Pass, but he didnt. So i moved on to yet another big climb and saw a bobcat crossing the trail just in front of me.
With every mile hiked, the number of actual trees went down and more and more sand sagebrush dominated the scenery.
The goal for that day was reaching Bird Spring Pass. Yet again, a cache provided by locals, and the only water source available.
I made it to the pass just before 6pm and enjoyed a nice sunset.
(Cache at Bird Spring Pass, plenty of water for hikers! Thanks!)
Day 192: Wind! (33miles)
The night had been windy and i didnt sleep very well, something that i would have to get used to for the next few days. The day didn't present much of a difference to the days before. I had to climb a total of some 5,500ft (1,700m) and descend a similar amount of feet. Luckily, the climbs here in the desert are rather gentle and easy.
For most of the day, i didnt see any trees. Just sand and sagebrush, but that allowed for amazing views far into the desert. Something i really enjoyed. The temperatures were nice and comfortable. Freezing nights, gave way for great sunshine and temperatures around 65°F (18°C).
I refilled my water at Robin Bird Spring and continued on for a few more miles. I picked a campsite on a slightly slanted piece of land, that looked rather sheltered from the wind, but i would soon learn that it wasn't.
(Robin Bird Spring)
As experienced the days before, the wind picked up just after sunset. Strong winds are so common in this area, due to the differences in surface temperature between the hot Mojave desert and the cold Pacific Ocean.
I had pitched my tent well, but the wind that night really hammered against my tent, creating a lot of noise that made it hard to find sleep. In the middle of the night, one groundhog was pulled out of the sand and i had to get up and secure my tent. Nevertheless, i'm still suprised how well my tent performs in the wind.
Day 193: Tehachapi (32miles)
I got up early after a rough night and met another Sobo hiking couple just minutes later. They had also struggled through the night and were just about to start their day.
Not long into the day, i started seeing the first windparks. Most of the day was a lot of up and down again and i even had to hike over a nasty dirt road, with a lot of loose rocks.
Around 4pm i had finally reached the top of the day's last climbed. I had looked forward to this all day long, as i remembered the outstanding views very well.
(Massive windpark just before Highway 58)
(View on the Mojave desert and the town of Mojave)
From this ridge, i dropped down some 4,000ft (1,200m) to Highway 58, from where i got a ride into the nearby town of Tehachapi.
I got to town by 7pm and finished all my errands (eating, showering, resupplying) by 9:30pm, so that i could leave early the next day.