mile 545.3 – mile 558.5 (Tehachapi Willow Springs Rd)

13.2 miles 

Despite the wind, I did sleep last night. Not great, but not terribly. I woke up a little before 5:00. It was still pretty dark when I started packing. It took me awhile to start walking because I still had to filter the water I scooped yesterday. I was climbing by 5:30. 

It was calm-ish while is was packing, but as soon as I started climbing, the wind picked back up. About a mile into my climb, the wind was so strong that I grabbed hold of a bush and just held on for dear life. The wind is trying to kill me. It took me two hours to go those first two miles. 
Once I got to the top of the climb, the wind backed off and I sailed through the rest of the 13 miles to the road into Tehachapi. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got there, but I just wanted to get to a town. 

Blazer caught up with me right at the end and we made it to Willow Springs Rd by around lunchtime. We got a hitch the first time we stuck out our thumbs and asked to be dropped off at a the food. The very nice guy, whose name I didn’t get, dropped us off across from a BBQ joint. Be still my heart! Seriously, I will probably eventually die of BBQ-related causes. I had a pulled pork sandwich and the best damn sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten. 

While eating, we called several people on the Tehachapi Trail Angel list to see if we could find a ride and/or a place to stay. We found a very nice man who took is to the PO to pick up our mail and had him drop us off at the airport, where they have a little park where they let hikers camp. Wang, GB, Rusty and Lisa were there. It was so good to see them!
It was a nice enough place, but we didn’t want to stay there. Blazer made some calls and found another trail angel who said she’d take us to the grocery store and laundromat and we could camp in her backyard. While we waited for her, I went through my food bag to see what I would need to buy for the next leg to Kennedy Meadows. I had way too much food left over! It’s so hard to dial this in. 

Then, I read through my mail! Hunter had sent me a box with my new down booties and some other goodies. No more cold feet! And all my friends at Westminster (the church where I’ve worked on and off for almost eight years) sent me letters! It was really good to hear from them. Thanks, everyone! I miss you!

After reading my mail, I had just enough time left to take a freezing cold port-a-potty shower. The airport had a little port-a-potty closet thingy rigged up with a shower head. Usually there is warm water, but the propane was out. It was almost unbearably cold, but I wanted to be clean-ish so badly!

Here’s some bad news: Lisa might have a stress fracture in her foot. She and Rusty were just returning from the ER when we arrived at the airport. They had looked her over, ruled out shin splints, and taken an x-ray. They didn’t find anything definitive on the x-ray, but told her if it was a stress fracture they would need an MRI to see it and that they don’t do MRI’s there. Rusty called a few places that do MRI’s, but was told they’d need a referral to do it. Our medical system is so effed. Last I heard, they are going to hang out here in Tehachapi at least through the holiday weekend and see if her foot improves. Then, she might have to fly home to TX to get it looked at and might have to spend up to a month there until it heals. Rusty will keep hiking and she’ll join him when she’s able. It’s a big bummer. 

Our trail angel, who I now think of as my personal fairy trailmother, Barbara fetched Blazer and me and took us to run our errands, then came back and brought us to her house. She took pity on us and let us sleep in her TV room. We watched about three hours of Family Feud while we sorted our food and prepared our packs for a quick eight-mile slack pack tomorrow. 

I’m sleeping in a double papasan chair!
Today I got to see my old crew again!

Today I learned, again, how wonderful trail angels are. 

Today’s hike was powered by trail angels and BBQ.