I was hiking at 5:30 this morning. The trail started to follow the LA aqueduct, which is a very long, hot, flat, dry section in the Mojave Desert. The plan was to get to a bridge before lunch to hide under during the heat of the day.
I got to see the sunrise over the exposed section of the aqueduct when it was nice and cool. As soon as the sun was up slightly higher, it began to get really hot. It was probably only in the mid 70s temperature-wise, but the unrelenting sun makes it brutal. I can’t imagine doing this section when it’s 20 degrees hotter, which it usually is for most hikers.
The aqueduct was only exposed for a short while, then it was enclosed in a large pipe, and then it was underground and I walked on the dirt road next to it. I took my first break laying in the shade of the dirt piled two feet high on the side of the road. My next break was laying in the shade of a very low bridge, half under it really.
When I got moving from that break, the trail left the aqueduct and started following a private road. One of the landowners had left a cooler full of Gatorade out for hikers so I gladly stopped and drank one. Then I heard there was more trail magic less than a mile away so we got moving towards it.
There was another cooler at the end of a driveway, with a sign saying shade, water, and magic were up the driveway 200 yards. I walked up it until a pavilion came into view. Lots of people, dogs, dirt bikes, and quads were around. They immediately welcomed us, ushering us into the shade and bringing cold drinks, turkey sandwiches, chips, dip, and more.
The people were from the Kern Recreational Landowners Association and they couldn’t have been friendlier. They’ve been coming out to that land for 45 years, although the pavilion they call the “Tiki Bar in Hell” was considerably newer. They also had the nicest outhouse I’ve ever seen.
We decided to stay there until the heat of the day was over since everyone was so fun to chat with. Then the offer came for us to camp there. They were all heading home since Memorial Day weekend was over, but we were welcome to stay. They started bringing out all of their extra drinks and snacks. When they then left a trash bag for everything and said leave it in the outhouse when we left, I almost cried. I had committed in my head to carrying the glass from drink bottles and salsa jars out when they brought everything out, but they obviously really understood thru hikers to know we wouldn’t want to carry that kind of thing to the next town.
It was late afternoon by the time only hikers were left. We lazed around before setting up our sleeping bags under the roof. Only 12.7 miles today but you can’t turn down magic like that.