6/7/17 – Night Hikers

Day 45
Miles: 624 to 644

The sky was full of stars when we emerged from our tent at 2:30 in the morning and the moon shone so brightly that we almost could pack without headlamps.
The early morning walk was beautiful. The moon illuminated the landscape and we could make shapes of the mountains that surrounded us. In a valley bellow us was a city we could tell by a large strip of lights. 

3:00 a.m.

The morning dawned just shortly before we reached mile 630 where there was a possibility of finding another water cache. We have heard that likely it would be empty, and for that reason we decided to night hike. There were two bigger climbs we had to conquer today and by starting early we could tackle both of them while they were in shade, and though conserve water and energy. We had just enough water left to make it through the stretch safely. If sun was to beat on us, it would be a completely different story.

We were thrilled to find the cache fully restocked. From Louise and Pancake who camped here last night, we learned that the new water arrived at 8:30 p.m. last night and we could not be more thankful to be able to guzzle a liter right on the spot and take additional liter for the hike. We can’t thank the trail angel who takes care of this cache enough. 

The most beautiful sight during a long dry stretch, trust me

Hiking was amazingly beautiful today. Right after the water cache there was “the hill of the day”, a three mile 1,600 foot ascent which we managed in about an hour and a half. The scenery on the uphill was lovely, the trail switchbacked along the slope, revealing rock formations some of them painted by the rising sun.

Once on the top, we took a short rest in a cluster of trees, ate our snack and continued on what happened to be the most beautiful ridge run of the entire trail. We could see as far as the snowy Sierra where we are headed, and on the other side we could admire the dry desert climate. 

Louise and Pancake exploring during our “hill of the day” ascent

Plenty of shade was to be found here which made the hiking even more enjoyable. 

Eventually we dropped and started rising again, this time on a much shallower grade. The sun was out but the grade and occasional shade made the hiking fun even though the temperature was likely in high 80’s or even higher.

Little things one notices during siesta

The tough part was the road walk at the very end. Whole 2.5 miles of it which seemed to drag forever along an exposed and very hot stretch. At one point we needed to calm down so badly, that we bushwhacked few hundred feet of the trail to find shade under the only set of larger trees around.

The heat was quickly forgotten once we had arrived at McIvers Spring. Water was flowing generously and we had a chance to replenish our bottles and also wash some of our clothing, and our ever dusty feet.

Trees on our ridge walk, desert below us

In the evening the trail threw one last surprise our way when our friend Swayed strolled in. We thought he would be several days ahead of us at this point but it turned out he took multiple zeros at Mojave which put him closer to our schedule. Maybe we can talk him into going to Lake Isabella with us tomorrow.