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Day 42-45: Renewing Energy

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Day 42: Between Tylerhorse and Gamble Spring Canyons (Mile 544)-Highway 58 (Mile 566.5); 22.5 miles

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Our alarm rang at 5:30 AM and we were up and walking by 6. Over the past few weeks we have perfected our morning routine and now are quite speedy. Shutterbug breaks down the tent while Anna organizes food for the coming day. We quickly place each item in the perfect spot in our packs so the weight is well balanced and everything we need is easily accessible.

The morning’s environment transitioned from grassy desert hills to a forest which burned last fall. The burn was so recent we could still smell charred wood, and the soil was scorched black. Little grew save a few small wildflowers.

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As the trail wound over hillsides and descended to the valley, the wind began to pick up, and we entered a huge wind farm. The farm’s 5000 turbines were capable of powering 350,000 homes. While the strong wind made it hard to walk at times, the powerful turbines were reducing fossil fuel use and limiting climate change. This boosted our spirits.

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At the end of the day we walked out of the wind farm and a fellow hiker named Rockin’ picked us up at the highway. She and her family treated us to dinner at their home in nearby Tehachapi.

Day 43: Zero Day in Tehachapi

Today we did chores and rested our weary feet. We were very successful at resting our feet, but the chores (grocery shopping, repairing gear, emails, etc.) always seem to take us much longer than we expect and we end up compromising on sleep. Too much to do and not enough time!

Anna was excited to get new shoes, and Shutterbug got new trekking poles and socks. We were also stoked to learn that our Picturing the Mojave blog post was featured on the WordPress homepage! We ended the day with a big spaghetti dinner and trail talk with Rockin’, Dan, Grant, Lisa, and Border Patrol. Perfect.

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Rockin’ and her family were amazing hosts, and we are very grateful for their hospitality. Thanks! You can check out Rockin’s own PCT adventures, and some great photos, on her blog, Lady on a Rock.

We felt that if Rockin’s prodigious energy were somehow harnessed and converted to electricity, she would replace a number of wind turbines! We wish her the best in her hiking this summer. If you see a blur speed past you on the trail, it is probably her.

Day 44: Highway 58 (Mile 566.5)-Past Golden Oaks Spring (Mile 586.5); 20 miles

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With our legs refreshed, we started a serious climb. Our packs were laden with 7 days of food plus 3.5 liters of water each. Though our load was heavy, we enjoyed seeing flowering beavertail cacti and cartoonish Joshua trees along the trail.

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As we climbed, we began to encounter small pine trees and manzanita. We savored their shade as it was a sweltering day. We sweated so much that we ran out of water one mile before the spring. This surprised us as we try always to carry more water than we expect to drink.

We refilled our water containers with clear, cold water at the spring. A few miles later we set up camp and were treated to a beautiful sunset.

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Day 45: Past Golden Oaks Spring (Mile 586.5)-Near Landers Meadow (Mile 606); 19.5 miles

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Our walk took us through the Paiute Mountains, which showed some similarities to the Sierras, which we will be entering soon. Most notably we spotted larger mammals including deer, a skunk, many squirrels and chipmunks, and even a few bear tracks. This was still desert, though: The dry air parched our lips, the sun blazed in a nearly cloudless sky, and water was scarce.

We passed a few more wind turbines, and we felt it was a fitting time to share how we charge our phones and camera batteries on the trail. We use a Suntactics sCharger-5 solar panel, about the size of a sheet of paper. It folds in half for transport, and weighs about 8 ounces. It produces 5 watts of power and can fully charge an iPhone in 2 hours in bright sun.

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We devised a sturdy way to attach the panel to our packs so we can charge while walking. First we drilled a hole in each corner of the plastic casing. Then we used flexible key chains to securely mount the panel to straps on our pack. Solar panels work best if you can match the sun’s angle, so putting the panel flat on top of the pack is best in the middle of the day when the sun is high.

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This setup works so well that most of the time the solar panel is packed in our bag because our batteries already have plenty of juice.

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Today we stopped hiking at 6 PM to ensure we got enough sleep. Our sleep deficit was really catching up to us, and we have learned that sufficient sleep can mean the difference between enjoyable, engaged walking and mindless “zombie hiking.” Sometimes ten hours of sleep is necessary! We drifted off to sleep as the coyotes awoke and began howling.

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Be the change you want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. lgsommer #

    Hey guys, I’ve been reading along since Shutterbug mentioned the blog on the pct listserv and have been enjoying living vicariously through you! I see you’re putting up some big mileage days already, and I was wondering, did you guys start the trail feeling pretty confident in your ability to handle the physical strains of hiking that long? (I.e I know you did a lot of trips in preparation) Or do you feel like the everyday hiking sort of brings your body to the point where you HAVE to be in the right physical condition? I’ve been planning a thru hike forever, and one thing I always wonder about is physically how to prepare to deal with the rigors of big climbs and long distances. Happy hiking you two!

    June 6, 2012
    • We prepared mostly by walking, and that was enough. As you say, your body will naturally become stronger during the hike. We did start more gradually than some, beginning with 10 mile days and working up to 20. We think that helped us avoid injury. You never know what you are capable of until you go for it, so that’s what we did. Thanks for following along!

      June 8, 2012
  2. Jan Alexander #

    I’m glad about those new socks, Chris! And I love the picture of the tiny figure of you, Anna hiking amongst the tall blackened trees. It really puts humans in perspective. And George loves the picture of you, Chris, looking like a craggy mountaineer. I wonder what’s up with the new trekking polls? Did yours break or did you just need a different kind?

    He just showed me how if I switch to Hybrid View on your tracking page and zoom in several times, I can see the trail as it winds through the trees and bushes. I already knew you could see the trail on the Terrain view if you zoom in, but the hybrid way was new to me. It’s become our favorite way to view your progress. Cheer to you both!

    June 6, 2012
    • Thanks, glad you like the photos! The tips on the old poles wore out so I had to send them back to get new tips put on. The tips were superglued on so I couldn’t replace them. I’m the meantime I got new poles so I wouldn’t be without them in the Sierras.

      It’s great that the trail shows up on the map, that’s a nice bonus. Hybrid view is a good idea too. Maybe you can get a better idea that way of the kinds of terrain we are walking through — desert, forest, exposed rock, etc. glad you can follow along that way!

      June 8, 2012
  3. rattlesnake #

    We enjoy following you through this media. My wife and I am planing a through hike in 2014 after I retire. Rattlesnake.

    June 7, 2012
    • Awesome! We have run into Upside Down, and more frequently Just Retired, who are both, well, just retired, and are thru hiking this year. Definitely inspiring and a perfect use of your newfound free time. Hope you have a great journey!

      June 8, 2012
  4. Hey Anna and Chris,
    Just stopped by to tell you it was great to host you both and found this! I posted your pics on this entry:
    http://ladyonarock.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/trail-talk/
    Go Sierras!
    Rockin’

    June 13, 2012
    • Awesome, thanks Rockin’! It would be great to see you on the trail, but barring that, it’s nice to know we will both be out here at the same time. The Sierras are amazing!

      June 21, 2012
  5. suzanne in berkeley #

    I see that you summited Mt Whitney yesterday! Woo hoo! You guys are trucking. How was the view? How is elevation treating you?

    June 14, 2012
    • Thanks Suzanne! The view from Whitney was awesome. We are so spoiled by all the amazing things we see here. Each pass in the Sierras is different, but all of them wonderful.

      The first couple days above 10000 feet were a bit rough, but we have adjusted well now. It’s exciting being up so high. Sometimes we find forests up there, and sometimes barren rock. It’s a great adventure.

      June 21, 2012
  6. Hey Anna and Chris, great blog! It was fun reading about your adventure. I’m about to set-off on mine and I was bringing along the same solar panel, Suntactics sCharger 5. What did you two think of yours? Did it work out nicely?

    February 8, 2014

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