a journey of 2,652 miles
THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL 2018
starts with a single step.
Miles 517.6 to 533.0. Hikertown to Cowboy Camp.
Today is the day we finally see the LA aqueduct - a section we were eager to see since we planned to hike the PCT! The plan is to head out at approx 5 pm to avoid the famous blistering Mojave desert heat.
But first let’s have a decent breakfast. Since there is no opportunity to buy some food or to go to a restaurant within Hikertown, we need to go to the next gas station, which also offers a MiniMarket and a small restaurant. The only problem is that the mentioned gas station is about 5 miles away. And since it is off trail we will for sure not walk that!
Luckily Richard, the owner of Hikertown provides a really old, big, white-rusty van which the hikers can use without having to ask his permission. So Speedy, Wizard, Maya and I take the van and Wizard offers herself as driver. It is a short ride through the dusty desert and feeling of freedom overwhelms me as we are all listening to some local country music. It feels like being on holidays right now.
Soon we reach the gas station, have some amazing breakfast burritos and buy some cheese there as we have run out of it during the hike to Hikertown and have come to the conclusion that life is better with cheese in the backpack. However, we are talking American cheese here...
Back in Hikertown we wash all our clothes and hang them out to dry the sun. Wizard is hoping to get a ride from Richard to LA to change her newly bought shoes (which caused her some terrible foot pain and blisters) and change them to another brand, like Altras. Unfortunately Richard is busy today - so no ride for her today. But he agrees to take her to LA tomorrow, so she decides to stay in Hikertown for at least another day.
In the afternoon we pack all our stuff together and I start to feel very hungry again. I finally manage to convince Maya to give the gas station another visit and have a burger there before we head out again towards the aqueduct. But the van is not here anymore, some other hikers must have taken it to go there too. After a short time an elderly lady, who hikes to PCT together with her teenage son, comes back with the van. As we go to get the car key from her, she tells us in a kind of cheeky way that there is almost no gas left in the car and she is not sure if we can make it to the gas station with the remaining gas. That she'd actually already had a hard time herself to drive all the way back here with almost no gas left…
“Seriously!”, we both think. I mean all hikers can use the van for free and some of them are not even willing to put in some gas?! That is not correct at all. There is no fuel at Hiker Heaven at all, so how the hell does she think one is able to fill up the van again? It still makes me angry, she could at least have refuelled the car for 5 bucks, so that it would be enough to drive back to the gas station. Anyways, we decide to try to hitch to the gas station as to not having to get stuck in an out-of-gas situation. But that does not work. So after all we take the van. The driving feels weird as the van is constantly stuttering. I drive really slow to make it to the gas station. And indeed we make it! We park the van in front of one of the fuel dispensers, go inside the market, take our burgers, Maya is eating away at an ice cream and we spend 10 bucks to fill up the van again. But wait, we have to change to the other fuel dispenser as the van’s gas cap is located on the other side. So no problem. I sit in the car and turn the key to turn around the car. The engine is stuttering... nothing happens. I try again... just stuttering. I try it again and again but without any success. Damn it, out of fuel! I am afraid that now the battery will soon be completely discharged… I realize that there is now only one option: we need to put the car into neutral position, Maya needs to sit in front of the steering wheel and I have to pull the car by my hands about 10 meters backwards and then another 10 meters forwards to reach the correct fuel dispenser.
So Maya, in one hand holding her ice cream, is now sitting in the driver's seat while I push as hard as I can. And indeed, the plan works! It is a hard piece of work, but me make it, fill up the car and try to get the engine running again. It works on the first try! Haha, we feel so lucky right now and laugh very loudly! What a story! The car could as well have gone out of fuel in the middle of nowhere!
So now we drive all the way back as fast as possible, eat our burgers and get ready to leave Hikertown together with Speedy. We hike for about 15 minutes as we already reach the open part of the aqueduct. Speedy insists to take some freedom of the ass pictures again, so he and I take off our clothes and do some hilarious pictures only wearing our packs.
Soon we reach the tubed part of the aqueduct. The tube is huge and it feels somehow strange knowing that thousands of liters of water per second are passing by underneath us, while nature here is, oh so dry. But it is actually fun to walk on the tube and we take some awesome pictures in the evening light.
We agree that Speedy should go ahead as he is so fast and find us a good camping spot. It is now about 7 pm and the temperatures begin to feel more pleasant. But there are still 10 miles to go and we begin to install our headlamps. Soon the last glimpse of light has disappeared and we walk in complete silence and dark in the middle of the Mojave desert.
After several hours of hiking during the night, Speedy texts us that the planned tentsite is way too windy and he has found a better one only 200 meters ahead of him. Approx. one hour later we reach his spot and find him lying in his sleeping bag only, behind a bush, seeking shelter from the strong wind that is also blowing here. We decide to cowboy camp as well and fall asleep soon despite the howling wind.