After an amazing week in San Francisco it was time to get back on the trail. The section right after Tehachapi, where we took off, is not an easy one and just four miles after getting back on the trail I was curled up under a joshua tree trying conserve the little water I had left. In this section of trail water is scarce and direct sunlight is your companion all day long.
Right after starting there is a 17 mile dry stretch followed by an 18 mile dry stretch followed by another 25 mile dry stretch. I unfortunately underestimated the desert heat and did not start with enough water. That forced me to hide in the shade until the sun started its retreat and then resume my hike. Even though the section is difficult I quickly readjusted to trail life and was able to start pumping out miles just like before I took off.
Although the days are brutal the beauty of the nights makes up for it. The only way to truly enjoy the nights is to cowboy camp (Sleeping without a tent). Partially due to exhaustion, but mostly due to the stars, almost every night this section was spent tentless. Without light pollution the sky is completely lit up with tiny lights flickering all night long. It makes the hard days hike completely worth it. This is the last stretch of desert I will have before entering the snow covered Sierra’s so I am enjoying every second of its harsh glory.
-Noel Nelson (PCT mile 655)