PCT Day 35: Goodbye, Wind Farm

May 23, 2022

Campsite at mile 558 to Highway 58 and Tehachapi at mile 566.4

8.4 miles

It’s still windy this morning. I don’t want to move at first, but then I remember that we’re going to Tehachapi! Town food! Andy and Beetle! And… hopefully finding a place to stay! I eat a quick breakfast and pack up, then we head down the trail and back into the wind farms.

Water caches: welcome surprises on dry stretches

That’s literally all it is for these eight miles: shadeless stretches of wind turbines. We hike together at first, then it turns uphill and I’m ahead with DLT again. There are a few steep inclines, then a more gradual uphill. The whole morning is shadeless. The sound and sight of wind turbines is starting to make me crazy. I can’t imagine doing this at the end of a 50-mile stretch. I’m ready to be out of here and in town.

Finally, the trail turns downwards into a series of switchbacks. Petra zooms ahead as usual (“I just let gravity do the work!”), and DLT and I meet her at the road, then we wait for Catless.

The next challenge is figuring out how to get from here to Tehachapi. We try calling the bus service, but the first bus is hours from now. We try Lyft and Uber, but there are none available. We can get a ride from a trail angel named Sarah, but she’ll be 45 minutes. We decide to walk to the Highway 58 overpass and see if we can hitch a ride. This mile of road walking is hot and unenjoyable and I’m desperate for it to be over.

Just as I’m about to tell Sarah that we’re good to have her pick us up, we get offered a ride. It’s a guy whose wife is hiking the PCT, and he’s taking his outfitted van around to support her. We pile around the cute little table in the back and he drives us to Tehachapi. Woo hoo, town!

Petra and Catless in the back of the van on the way to Tehachapi

Our first stop is Kohnen’s Bakery, which instantly becomes one of my favorite places in a trail town so far. I order a cherry turnover and see that they have my new favorite: Bundaberg peach soda. Oh, baby. I consume that and a coffee and am in absolute heaven. This is one of the best parts of thru-hiking: how amazing food, drinks, and being in a building feel. Not to mention, that bathroom was top quality.

After the bakery we move to Red House, a barbecue restaurant. Alex, trail name G, is there, and Petra is very excited to see him because he had just posted on Instagram that he saw a bear 15 miles from Tehachapi, and Petra is mildly obsessed with bears. We sit down with him outside and chat while we eat. I devour my pulled pork sandwich, cole slaw, and tangerine wheat beer.

After that I am deeply full and satisfied, and we turn to the more challenging task of finding a place to stay. We haven’t had much luck with trail angels, so we look into cheap motels in town but strike out. Alex gives DLT the information of a trail angel named Rae, whom DLT then calls. Turns out, she can pick us up right now! We go around to the front of the building, where she is waiting to pick us up.

Rae’s lovely little house isn’t far from the main area of town. Once we get there, she shows us around and we get settled. DLT, Catless, and Petra have some errands to run in town. While they go out, I take a luxurious shower, put on some of Rae’s loaner clothes, and visit with the very cuddly neighborhood cat, Monty, that Rae is looking after. Rae is also out by this point, and I have the house to myself. It’s amazing. I really haven’t had much alone time on this trail, and it feels so peaceful. I catch up on writing and fall asleep on the bed (the actual real beautiful bed!). I also get in touch with Andy about his and Beetle’s plans. Since they arrived yesterday, they’ve been staying with another trail angel in town, who has apparently taken quite a liking to them. It’s sounding like they are going to stay with her rather than joining us in the hotel tomorrow and Wednesday night. It’s sad that the whole tramily won’t be together, but on the bright side, it gives the four of us a little more space. We’re going to meet tomorrow for lunch and go to their trail angel’s house for dinner, though, so we’ll still get full-bodied Turbo Twats time in Tehachapi.

After several hours, DLT, Catless, and Petra return. Catless has a new phone, but Petra still doesn’t have a functioning SIM even after visiting the AT&T store. Hearing the challenges she’s gone through with her phone on this trail makes me so grateful that I didn’t have to travel internationally to hike the PCT! The three of them take showers and we put a load of laundry in. Slowly, we start to feel a little more human.

Before we know it, it’s the late evening and we haven’t had dinner yet. We decide to walk down the road to the fast food restaurants. DLT is extremely excited about his first Taco Bell experience, so we go there first. Then we walk further to McDonald’s, where we eat a veritable smorgasbord of not-quite-food. I eat far too many empty calories, and the hot fudge sundae sets me a little over the edge of comfortable, but yolo, it’s all part of the experience.

A very excited DLT (left) and Catless (right) ordering at Taco Bell

It’s a 20-minute walk back to the house after that, which is pleasant in the cool evening air and because it helps me digest the atrocity I just ate. Once we return, we say good night to Rae and get ready to sleep. Oh, sweet town days. What a luxurious little vacation we have ahead of us!

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