May 22, 2018
I was up at 4:30am to begin hiking south toward Hikertown. We decided to split the hike into two easy 20-mile days since it would be much hotter now and 40ish miles was far more than I was currently capable of hiking in a single day.
Sparky dropped me off at the trailhead along Hwy 58 around 5:00am, but neither of us realized that it was the wrong one. This was where Ghosthiker and I had finished our 8-mile slackpacking hike last time we were in Tehachapi. When I’d been there last, I’d been studying Guthooks on my phone while Ghosthiker was chatting with another hiker, and it was sunny and hot as opposed to the dark and cool of pre-dawn. I was also walking in the opposite direction and simply didn’t recognize where I was. Sparky came to my rescue, though. I was still hiking along the road when he pulled up and explained the situation. Good thing he did, or I’d have walked an extra 8 miles and run out of water long before I reached our meeting point.
This time it actually was a fairly easy slackpack day. I still had my new blisters from hiking in my Oboz to deal with, but I was back in my desert-tested tennis shoes and doing well. I listened to music and an audiobook and just tried to get through the day. That whole process of tuning out the present with distraction in order to get through it really made me wonder about my motivation for continuing with the hike. Shouldn’t I be basking in the glory of the wilderness and all it has to offer, or something like that? What was the point of this hike if I was just going to tune it out?
When I met up with Sparky and Ghosthiker at mile 537.7, Ghosthiker asked me how I liked Tyler Horse Canyon, and I wasn’t even sure how to respond. I hadn’t looked that closely. Engrossed as I was in my audiobook, the whole trail had seemed the same to me that day. I’d had a goal and I hadn’t taken much time to sightsee. I think by that point I was just completely done with the desert. Over it. Done.
It helped that at the end of the day I got to go back to the Tehachapi, take a good, hot shower, have a delicious meal and a few beers with good friends, and go to sleep in a nice comfy bed.
When we were both in our shared room preparing for bed (Sparky had been given the other spare room) Ghosthiker asked me again how I was feeling about the hike and was visibly relieved, again, when I assured her I wasn’t ready to quit yet. Despite everything I was feeling, I was not going to quit. I just had to wait for things to get better. Surely they would, in the Sierra. They had to.