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The Desert



The High Sierras

Never ending wind farm. A cool feeling walking amongst the giant electricity generators.

Day 36

This was only a short day into the town of Mojave. There are two roads you can go into the town by. The smaller Willow Springs Road, and the larger highway 58. I decided to do the second one, because I had the time, and I wanted to make the long water carry that followed shorter. Just after passing the first road I met Emi and Russ, they had just got back out on the trail after a day in Tehachapi and was going to try to make it the whole stretch up to Kennedy Meadows from here. I was super excited about seeing them again, even though it was a short meeting.

When I got to the Highway, I called the bus company to ask them about the bus that went into Mojave. And they said that I just had to wait on the road and the bus driver would pick me up. But two hours later, no bus. So I decided to try to hitch. Luckily the third car that came by picked me up and gave me a ride into town. I got a room at a motel and then met up with Chelsea who had gotten there the day before. We ate dinner at Carl's Jr, maybe not the best food, but nice company! She told me about all her BMX injuries, and surgeries she'd had. I was crazy impressed by her disregard for pain and injuries. Another goodbye was coming up. Chelsea had decided to skip the Sierras for now and come back later and do it with her family. She was heading out again tomorrow for the last bit to Kennedy Meadows and me myself would take a zero and rest up a bit before I continued.

The town of Mojave, far down in the desert.

Day 37

It's always awesome waking up in a bed on a zero day, several hours after sunrise, knowing that you are soon going to go eat a big pile of pancakes. And Mojave was, of course, no exception. After feeling overly full I slowly made my way to the supermarket to stock up on 14 days of food, half of which I was shipping to Kennedy Meadows. At the store, I met Javaloo, Maite, and Luke. So nice to see some familiar faces again after the past two days goodbyes. Me and Javaloo got hung up talking for a long time about resupply strategy for the Sierras.

I didn't have any pictures from Mojave, so heres a mountain picture instead :)

Mojave is a very special town. If you've watched the movie Wild, you will definitely recognize yourself from the place where Cheryl started her hike. I'm definitely 95% sure it's the location they filmed the first motel scenes in the movie. The town is not very walking friendly, everything stretched out along the main street going through town. The residents are mostly in minority groups and I would guess many of them are living below the poverty line. Most houses have that run-down feeling about them, with dull squarish designs and the plaster coming off the walls. I think the town really reflects the segregated society that can be seen in many places around the U.S. The visit to the town was definitely one of the most memorable!

And here's a Mojave desert picture! :)

After shopping, I mostly just stayed in my room sorting everything in bags and writing my blog. Everything always takes so much longer than I expect, and I didn't really have so much time to just relax. I joined the others for dinner that evening at a local Chinese cuisine. We had a good time, just enjoying not eating mashed potatoes and later when walking home in the warm air it was that perfect warm temperature which we never get home in Sweden during the nights. I watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver before I fell asleep.

And a trail magic picture! :)

Day 38

I went to the post office, dropped off my box of food and picked up the new tent poles. While packing them up Ian and Megs arrived. They told me they were going to skip the Sierras and go out to the Oregon coast to hike instead. So I was sad to yet again say goodbye to people I'd got to know. Because of the upcoming snow, this was really the section of goodbyes, because people had so different plans. After saying our goodbyes I took the bus out towards the PCT, this time it actually showed up. But I guess it's easier to take from an actual place of civilization. A super nice lady helped me and made sure I got off at the right place.

After I got back to the trail I climbed. This is a ridge during that climb.

Back on the trail, I started the slow climb up the mountains. Because of my pack now containing seven days of food, I decided to only bring two liters of water for the 17 mile stretch to the first source, and the campsite for the night. After about three miles, I was really regretting this decision. It was in the middle of the day and the sun was beating. The climb was not making it easier, sweating profoundly and feeling the first signs of dehydration. After drinking the first liter during the climb I rationed the other and made it about ten miles only drinking half a liter. Luckily the trail rejoined pine trees as soon as the climb was over, and I started to get the feeling I was getting closer to the Sierras. The mountains around me changing character somewhat.

Some shade made the lack of water easier, even though the temperatures where high.

With only two miles left to the water source I drank the last of my water and actually felt pretty refreshed. The temperatures had by this time dropped and it was a nice afternoon. But I was still very glad walking into camp finding Javaloo, Maite and Luke already set up. Calvin was also there. I hadent seen him since his tent flew away near Cabazon almost 400 miles back. So I was super stoked to talk to him again. This night I also met, for the first time ever, the awesome danish people Metric, (who had been making all the km markers along the trail) and Bandit together with Yard Sale from Maine, who I (spoiler alert) walked into Canada together with, exactly 125 days later. It was a small oasis in the dry day with the beautiful pipe spring flowing strongly. Once again I fell asleep to frogs croaking from the large trough. Oh, how I had missed them!

Mountains shortly before camp.

Day 39

This was probably the most horrible day on the whole trail. You would think I'd learn from my mistakes. But no. I decided to just bring three liters of water for the upcoming 22-mile dry stretch. I mean, whatever could go wrong with that? The first stretch was flat and nice. The morning air cool. And I deemed that the water I was carrying was more than enough to last for some nice morning coffee.  In retrospect, it's not good to drink the dehydrating beverage while trying to ration water. The desert started to become a bit duller now. Don't get me wrong, the views were still as mesmerizing as ever. But I think I was starting to feel that longing for a change. Walking into snow-covered granite mountains with large sequoia trees, a very much different experience than the one I had been experiencing so far.

The terrain starting to lock more sierra-like.

After about two hours of walking in exposed sunlight and increasing temperatures, I was, for the first time, starting to feel a bit worried about the quickly decreasing quantity of water. It was now unbearably hot. I don't know if it really was warmer this day than other days. Or if it was just body lacking water, starting to beat me up. But one thing was for sure, I was getting thirsty. "Half a mile more and then you can dring one more sip", I had to keep my mind on a short time goal, never thinking about how far away the water source really was. I enjoyed a longer lunch break than normal, cooling off in the shade, reading my book, napping for a bit, and regaining my strength.

29 degrees C in the shade.

Dryer grass.

The landscape was now covered in grass. Greener than the grass I had been seeing earlier in the desert, and covering larger parts. There was also more deciduous forest now which was nice because they provided better shade. Closing in towards the end of the day I passed some houses and gravel roads, but the trespassing signs discouraged me to go ask for water. I sat down at mile 600 for a while, drinking my last sip of the water and feeling thirstier than ever. I talked to my brother at home over messages, complaining about my predicament. The last mile I was only thinking about the water that was pouring out of the nice spring back at the camp I started from during the morning. And hoping it would be the same at camp.

Being thirsty at mile 600, a 100 miles to Kennedy Meadows!

Lusher grass. And a cow.

Arriving I threw down my stuff and pulled out my water treatment system. It was not a great flow. But I managed to get some not to dirty water out of the small trickling flow. It was heavenly, and I soon felt better again. Javaloo, Maite, and Luke showed up, together with Stefania. And later more Europeans showed up. I met Adam from Polen, Acorn from Germany, and there were a couple of more there. I don't think anyone was from the U.S., a very international camp that evening. Crammed into a tight spot, it was quite cozy, and I was happy to meet new friends. And I told myself, I would never again miscalculate my water. It's just horrible. Really horrible.

Sunset from camp.

Day 40

The first few miles during this day provided plenty of water, and determined not to die of thirst today I planned my water carefully. I hiked out early in the sunrise, with nice and cool temperatures. The trail had been climbing during the afternoon the previous day, and instantly entered a pine forest. It was a nice change from the previous day, with small streams crossing the trail every once in a while. After four miles I took a breakfast break and made some coffee, today I didn't have to make the tradeoff in water because a good flowing stream was just next to the trail. Adam, Luke, Javaloo, and Stefania showed up and we chatted for a bit, I took a longer break than usual, resting my tired legs from the previous day.

I love hiking in the sunrise!

Well marked trail in the pine forest.

I left with 3 liters of water that should be enough for the upcoming 15 miles to the next source. There were also rumors of trail magic water at a small road crossing the PCT in between. I soon left the pine forest, and the traditional deserty terrain was back once again. But I didn't mind too much. I was feeling better now, with enough water in my pack and with two days out my food weight had also dropped considerably. Around a corner, I suddenly got my first glimpse of the Sierras. A snow-covered mountain far away, with what was looking like storm clouds covering threateningly, challenging me to dare take on its impenetrable terrain.

Flowery desert, never stops surprising me.

More desert... and far away some snow on a peak! Excitement for the Sierras raising.

At lunch, everyone crowded in together underneath a Joshua tree. However, I kept going a bit more, unfortunately, because as I learned later, someone had shown up with trail magic not much later. The trail slowly climbed through a flatter section, very sandy and no shade at all. Appropriately I also listened to the ending of Frodo and Sam climbing their last bit up to the rift in Mount Doom. Which seemed like something that I could almost relate to at that point.

Off-trail down towards the water source.

The water source I was aiming for was located a bit off trail. I had to scramble down in a steep canyon. A real adventure. And a real test for my shoes which didn't have much grip left at all, and a large hole on the right shoe. But I managed to get down to the bottom, filled up with water and rested for a bit. Luckily I could follow a dirt road back to the PCT, and at the intersection, I set up camp together with Javaloo, Maite, Stephania, and Luke. I also met Stenchwall (don't know if this was his name at this point), Wreckingball and Ben, nice people will reappear again towards the end. One day closer to the Sierras, nervous and excited!

The dirt road taking me back to the PCT.

Sunset at camp. I don't have to say anything else!

Day 41

Sand, sand and more sand. The start of this day was not easy going. I think a combination of feeling beat down from the previous days and walking constantly in the sandy ground made this morning one of the toughest so far. But we saw something new, Acorn spotted a hunting Bobcat with her sharp eyes, it looked like it had caught a bird. Me and Javaloo tried to get some pictures of it, see the results below. The views turned into quite spectacular ones, with panoramic views far away, down into desert plains, only small mountains breaking of the landscape as scars in the earth. A quite diverse landscape, but at the same time exactly the same everywhere.

The bobcat in the middle of the picture, just as it had caught its prey.

If you look carefully maybe you can spot the bobcat.

Desert plains and mountains as far as the eye can see.

I made it to some sort of pass where there was some trail magic water left for thirsty hikers. But planning well again I had packed out enough the previous night before going to camp. Lots of hikers hung out at the small oasis with a couple of lower trees for shade. I made a shorter break and then kept going, the trail now ascending up on the other side of the pass, switchbacking up the steep mountainside. After half an hour or so of climbing we were again back in the pine forest, which was a real blessing, to get an escape from the sun in the heat of the day.

Climbing up the pass, with Acorn.

Nice lunch in the shade.

The rest of the afternoon passed in a monotonous landscape shifting in and out of pine trees. I quite enjoyed it though. Especially with the sandy ground that now covered the trail, which was really unique to me. Near the end, I was feeling really tired but quite happy with my afternoon. I met Javeloo, Luke, and Maite who were eating dinner, they were going to try to get as close to walker pass as possible. They were planning to go to Lake Isabella the following day. I, however, had enough food to get me to Kennedy Meadows, so we said our goodbyes for now and I headed off to the campsite a quarter mile down a side trail near a beautiful large (desert sizing) stream.

Sandy pine forest

Day 42

I camped together with lots of people, but right now I can only remember that Adam and Calvin were there. But it was probably the same gang from the previous days. They were all planning to book it down to the road and go into Lake Isabella. I, however, didn't stress at all and took my time in the downhill towards Walker Pass. In the downhill, I could see the snow-covered mountains in the distance coming ever closer. Down at the pass, there werent too much excitement. There were only traces of the trail magic that had once been there, and the campground didn't really feel inviting to me, empty of people and looking kind of trashy.

The snowy sierras is getting closer!

Found an old trail log with the two swedes Kajsa and Gunilla whom I had followed the previous year.

So I soon headed on up on the other side. I called my parents and they helped me order a package of food to VVR in the Sierras with Zero Day resupply. It was nice to chat with them while walking uphills, but I soon lost reception, and then I was totally alone. It seemed like everyone went into town, and I felt a bit lonely with the big challenge looming ahead of me. Someone told me at some point later that the Sierras begin at this location, at Walker Pass. And it's definitely a shift in terrain. The mountains becoming more dramatic, the trail slowly traversing uphills along the side with considerably more ups and downs than the previous day. Large light grey granite formations exchanged the previous darker cliffs.

Switch backs up after the pass.

The mountains now changing with more granite cliffs.

I walked pretty slowly, and when I came to the Joshua Tree spring I had to make a decision. The decision between two water sources. The one I were at that moment, that would make it a 21-mile day. Or the further one, an additional four miles of climbing and descending. I felt more strongly towards pushing to the 25-mile source. It's interesting how important motivation is for my feeling. At the moment I decided to go four more miles I felt invigorated, and I increased my pace considerably. The last bit down felt like a breeze and I cruised into camp at 18.00. I was alone, for the second time on the trail. Which was kind of nice for a change. The camp was located in the bottom of a small gully with a large stream flowing in the bottom. As always near water, it was surprisingly lush, and a really amazing camp spot. I was a bit worried about the mentions of bears in Guthooks and fell asleep listening after cracking sounds from the steep hills around me.

The sign towards Joshua tree spring. Apparently the spring is supposed to be slightly radioactive, yikes!

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