May 21, 2017
Total miles: 24 miles
Start: Hikertown (mile 517.6)
End: mile 541.5
Total elevation gain/loss: 2653.3/826.8ft
When my alarm went off at 3:30 this morning we were ready to go. Michael was feeling better, but tired (surprise, it’s 3:30am!). I was similarly feeling tired since I didn’t sleep very well. I’m not sure if it had something to do with the soft bed, but it felt like I was constantly waking up throughout the night. I guess I’m getting used to sleeping on a sleeping pad!
We were walking by 4:10 a.m. It was cool, but not cold, and the wind from last night had died down. With our headlamps on we set out to walk the LA aqueduct. This section of the trail is notorious for being long, hot, and boring. I was hoping that we’d make good time and get to the bridge (17 miles down trail) as soon as possible.
Our first mile or so was on a trail through a field of some sort (it was dark). Immediately we started to see the area’s nocturnal inhabitants: field mice (or some kind of rat?). They would scurry across the trail as we got near and then, like a deer in headlights (or mice in headlamps in our case) they would freeze in place. I had to slow down at points to avoid stepping on these little guys and to give them a chance to regain their senses and hurry back on.
We soon found ourselves walking along an open canal. Or at least that’s what I thought it was — it was still pitch dark. A couple miles later, we crossed a bridge, turned, and had officially hit the LA aqueduct. This portion was a large metal pipe that barely stuck up above the ground. I walked directly on it for a few moments before deciding that it wasn’t worth the effort (you try walking on a rounded pipe) and headed down to the dirt road that paralleled the pipe.
Walking along the pipe it gradually got lighter, although it seemed to take the sun forever to rise above the horizon this morning. Finally the sun was up. It instantly became warmer and warmer. By 7am I decided it was officially hot outside. And I still had about 9 miles to go…
After a couple miles walking along the pipe, the “trail” turns to walk over a section of the aqueduct that is completely covered by a cement road. The cement was both easier to walk on and was already hot and bothering my sore feet. I opted to primarily stay on the dirt tract right next to the aqueduct.
What they say about walking the aqueduct is true: it’s a long, hot, and reasonably boring walk. Despite the fact that we were literally walking on top on thousands (millions?) of gallons of water on their way to LA, there also isn’t any water. Of course. At least it’s fairly flat and and easy walking. As soon as the sun came up I knew it was audio book time — my plan for keeping me happy during the walk. I hit play and an error message popped up. The book didn’t load properly when I was at the Cafe yesterday. Darn. Podcasts it was. I cycled between a new (for me) podcast called Crimetown and one of Michael’s playlists for running (needed more dance music in my opinion).
By 8am I decided it was time to put up my umbrella. Anything to save me from the heat. Without much wind it worked well. I folded up my poles, stuck them in my bag, and enjoyed walking for a bit under the umbrella’s protection. I haven’t used the umbrella much, but it’s certainly saved me a couple times thus far.
We saw barely anyone this morning. Just a couple guys that we leap frogged with during shade breaks. Again, Michael and I walked separately, but I made sure to check in with him occasionally to make sure that he was still feeling okay.
I arrived at the bridge at about 10:15am. There were already a number of people hiding out underneath, many of whom had left Hikertown last night to get a few miles in before continuing on in the morning.
Mid-day siestas are always kind of boring. We hid under that bridge until about 5pm, moving our tyvek ground sheet a couple times as the shade moved. Everyone was pretty chill and a few brave souls even decided to continue on mid-day. Crazy. It was so hot. I tried to nap, but to no avail. That’s not really one of my talents.
We cooked both our lunch and dinner, taking advantage of the fact that there’s actually a faucet that connects to the aqueduct that was running with water near the bridge. Yay! Lunch even included real cheese in our burritos followed by cookies thanks to Alyse’s care package. Thank you again!!
Finally, having spent the day relaxing in the shade and trying to stay hydrated, we were ready to leave by about 5pm. We had 7 miles to go before the next water source. It would also be our last water source before Tehachapi– ruining our plan to do a short day tomorrow so that we could get into Tehachapi early the next morning.
Our evening walk was relatively pleasant, but I was feeling somewhat tired from waking up early and then lying around in the heat. I know that Michael was feeling similarly exhausted.
We started the evening by walking through a huge wind farm. The turbines were huge when you got up close to them. Unsurprisingly, it was pretty windy.
I found a great spot downstream a bit from the trail under a large tree. I’m hoping that being away from the trail will mean that we’re less likely to be woken by people night hiking his section tonight. That said, the wind is pretty strong so we’ve opted to cowboy camp tonight. Hopefully it does down a bit like it did last night!