Location: Motel 6, Mojave, CA
Cumulative Miles: 566
Avocados Consumed: 29
Showers Taken: 11
This week was a doozy. A majority of Mile 55 members labeled this the toughest hitch. I think I might agree.
“I smell like hot dog water” said Centerfold as we hit the trail on a Saturday afternoon. With just showering and laundering the day prior — this was sad, but true. We all smelled like hot dog water. The truth is, we stink. Although, our group does take good care when it comes to hygiene, other people definitely smell worse out here. We no longer smell eachother, but we do get whiffs of ourselves everytime we adjust a backpack strap or reach across our bodies. Sure, you get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s found a home in all our stuff, never to be washed out again. The worst part is showering, feeling amazingly clean, then sniffing your armpits 2 hours later and BAM, ya still stink.
I had a moment of major fear because if I can’t scrub the stank now, how am I gonna get rid of it in 4 months for my sisters wedding? Is this ridiculous? Yes, yes it is. Chuckles, in her ever so patient way of dealing with my shit, laughed and told me all I have to do is go home in September and sit in the sauna for 3 hours. That shut me up and I went on my merry way, embracing that solution and not giving the stank any further concern.
So, right, back on trail Saturday afternoon…we were all together, rested, “clean,” and caffeinated. Spirits and levels were at an all-time high. We stopped for water about 8 miles in and the pipe was barely producing a trickle. It was so unimpressive that Camel quickly named it “Splash Mountain.” It was the last water for awhile so we spent an embarrassing amount of time there, but it was evening and we all had the giggles and the crazies, so Splash Mountain proved to be a solid start to the week. Looking back, it was a big foreshadowing moment in terms of really unreliable water to come.
As the sun was setting, we found flat ground to set-up camp. The view was gorgeous, and the laughs were abundant.
We had the pleasure of hiking/camping with Zucchini (real-name unknown) that night (she is since long gone). Zucchini is 19 and has already hiked the Appalacchian Trail, and now she is doing the PCT solo. You want to know what I was doing when I was 19?
Basically, everyone thru-hiking under the age of 25 and figuring this all out on their own has my vote for president. Hi zucchs!!
The next day I woke up last and had a nice little morning. Our plan was to stay at another trail angels house that night. I was really excited to meet the Andersons, heard great things about them, but something was pulling me away from there. As everyone arrived at the Andersons, I continued to hike another 10 miles. I ended up in Lake Hughes, at a biker bar, in a bedroom fit for a child upstairs. It was kind of an awesome day, that ended with a baked potato (my only real craving so far).
A good pair-a-shoes lasts about 500 miles, so it was time to pick up my first new pair-a-shoes…in lake Hughes! I’ve been really excited about it, partly because my current pair-a-shoes were so chewed up and giving me many issues I could spend an insurmountable time bitching about, but mostly because SHOES and HUGHES rhyme and I’ve been jazzed about that connection.
Fine, I started with one pair-a-undies (kidding ?) and I lost them weeks ago. I asked my mom to throw in one pair for me. She, like many others, can’t fathom a life without underpants, so she sent me 2 pairs of black silk granny panties. She also sent me a tube of 100+ SPF sunblock. Spoon said it best, “wow, Claire really knows how to keep both the melonoma AND men away in one small package.”
I thought about keeping the extra pair and using it as a ground cloth for my tent, you know, for both an extra layer of insulation and to preserve the life of the tent floor. But, unfortunately, a sacrifice had to be made.
Oh, right, hiking. The next couple days were light and fun. We hit the 500 Mile mark!!! I had a vision of making a music video, told the crew about it the night prior, and we executed it in one take the next day at the site. I’ve never been so proud.
In the middle of the week we upped our game a bit. How many miles we do a day is mostly based on where the water sites are. It’s not uncommon in this section to go 20+ miles with no water. On Wednesday, we dedicated ourselves to our biggest mileage day yet, 27 big ones. The first 9 were rolling and lovely, then, well, I don’t know what happened. The next thing I remember is Centerfold offering everyone delicious vegan protein birthday cake cookies his mom (Hi Kit!) sent him. I then crawled into my tent (conveniently located in the middle of a Wind Farm) and fell asleep to gentle lull of my rain-fly slapping all over the place.
I wish. No, it really wasn’t that bad, just really flat, exposed, hot, and super dry. Did I mention we are hiking through a wind farm? Pretty cool for a mile, then you realize how God-forsakingly windy WIND FARMS are, and the appeal is lost and gone FOREVER. First we walked along an aqueduct, then a pipeline, then a half paved/half dirt-road. I felt like a runaway kid from Stand By Me. I knew it’d be a mental toughness kind of day. I felt good for most of it, luckily my inner millennial surfaced and I listened to a fascinating podcast of the nutritional benefits of Algae, and then a lot of Whitney Houston. Made up some sweet new trekking pole dance moves as well.The corridor was wide open, a lot of space to get a little reckless with the poles.
The funniest part of the day was that we planned to camp at the water source. What’s so funny you ask? Well we had no idea if the faucet was on or not. LA has been really kind to us with every so often turning off faucets only hikers really have access to. Some days they are on, others they are off. Drought? Wait, what? California is in a DROUGHT?!? Don’t worry guys, the water was on thankfully.
We followed that day with a 23 mile climb back up to the high desert. It was fantastic. At the top of the mountain was a hiker hangout with CHAIRS and COLD WATER. There is this older gentlemen named Rocco that we’ve been around a lot lately. No one has actually seen him hike though, we just see him in towns, yet, he is somehow always ahead of us. Really nice and interesting guy, but always blowing our minds where he pops up. For instance, when I got to the water cache at the top of the mountain, there was Rocco, shirtless and reclined in the Adirondack lawn chair. Mirage? I thought so too, but nope, just Rocco hangin out in the desert. It’s always so good.
The trivial week ended, as it should, at the Motel 6 in Mojave. PCT hiker discount! After apologizing for our all-around smell/dust pile, the manager exclaimed “don’t be silly, hikers are our FAVORITE, you guys don’t complain about a THING!” It was really nice to hear, and it is true. Most hikers I’ve come across are super gracious and polite people. We rely a lot on the kindness of strangers, and we always, always, pay it back. Look at us, changing the world! One Motel 6 at a time! ?☀️?
Speaking of kindness, I have benefitted immensely from the kindness of two amazing friends this weekend. My friend Lisa sent me a huge box of goodies. This box was STACKED with all the hiker essentials. It was as if she has done a thru-hike herself? Wait, have you? Now THAT’D be something! The best gift was the 5 tshirts she made for the Mile 55 crew. All of us could not love them more, we feel like the coolest camp counsellors on the trail. We are over the moon excited to hike in these, thank you SO much Lisa! A friend I haven’t seen in years, so amazing to have your support.
My other friend, Michelle, drove an hour, picked up my friends and I, took us to the post office, bought us lunch, laughed along with us, and then brought me back to her home in Bakersfield. It was unbelievable, Mich works full-time, has 3 ((adorableeeeee)) kids under the age of 6, an awesome husband, and she still found time to get her kitchen ready for my arrival: “okay I got avocados, honey, bananas, wine, and because I pretty much grew up with you McCloskeys, pizza and cookies n’ cream ice cream.” She even let me use the master bath and I sank into the most amazing lavender Epsom salt (thank you Lisa!) bubble bath. I couldn’t believe how incredible today has been. You wake up in a Mo-6 and end the day at a best friends house. Undeniably, the best part of this visit was the slice of home Michelle gave me, talking about our families memories together and current hot topics was exactly what I needed to reset and get ready for this last stretch of the desert. Thank you both so much! I really, really, don’t want to leave this bed.
150 more miles, bring it on, Mojave.