The Andersons’ place is wonderfully chilled even at breakfast time. They had coffee on the go at 6am, with pancakes following at 7am.
Terrie gave rides to the trailhead, dispensing advice on the road walk around the fire closure. She had said we should walk the 12 miles on the road to the Lower Shake Canyon trail and then 23 miles on the PCT into Hikertown. Most people seemed to be opting for a 21 mile roadwalk into Hikertown instead. Between me, Chug, Dolittle and Hornbuckle, we came up with half a dozen alternate options. Chug and I both hate roadwalking whilst Dolittle and Hornbuckle don’t mind it so we ended up splitting the group. Our decision was complicated by timing; 23 miles of trail can only really be completed comfortably and without worry if begun before 10am. A 12 mile road walk wasn’t going to be possible before 10am and the hitch was going to be hard on a weekday.
Dolittle and Hornbuckle decided to road walk the 12 to the trailhead and then a further 9 to Hikertown. Chug and I decided to try and hitch the 12 miles to the trailhead and then if we had found a ride early enough, hike the 23+2 miles of trail. If we didn’t find a ride in time to hike 25 miles before dark, we were going to hitch directly into Hikertown and skip the road walk. Not ideal, as we would be missing mile 500, but the best option given timing.
We ended up hitching to Lake Hughes as a group of 4, eating breakfast at the Rock and finalising our plans. Dolittle and Hornbuckle walked and Chug and I walked out with Liability. We got a ride after a mile or so, but too late to hike the trail miles so we headed straight for Hikertown. We took Liability’s pack so he could slackpack the roadwalk. Not ideal, but the trail forces you to adapt. Sometimes your plans are no good.
Hikertown is a slightly eccentric Portmeirion sort of place. Bought in 2002 by the president of the local council, it consists of several Wild West style outbuildings surrounding the owner’s house where hikers can sleep. He has turned his garage into a lounge, which forms a kind of hub for hikers coming and going. There isn’t much to do here, but arriving early wasn’t a total disaster. I had chance to talk to the people from Zappo’s about my shoes, which are starting to split after only 100 miles. The shaky wifi connection and long-winded customer service made for a frustrating experience but I finally ordered replacement shoes and a returns label to be sent to Kennedy Meadows. I have spare shoes in my box at Tehachapi, so whilst Zappo’s can’t send my new shoes there in time, I can have new shoes there in any case as long as I get there before the Post Office closes.
The timing issue is also complicated by Memorial Day which is this coming Monday. It means we absolutely have to get into Tehachapi to collect our boxes before the Post Office closes at 2pm on Saturday as the next opportunity to do it would be Tuesday. I am thinking of trying to get a 32 mile stretch knocked out tomorrow. It is pretty cool in the desert, 18 miles is totally flat as we walk across the aqueduct, and I hope I can get those done before lunch.
Miles: 2-5 of road walk around a closure, plus hitch.
Camping: Mile 517 Hikertown