Trail Camp to Aqueduct Camp
Mile 504.6 – Mile 529.3
Late to bed and early to rise makes a man tired. Regardless it was time to make miles while the sun didn’t shine so I was off just after 6 this morning to make my way about 13 miles to a place called Hiker Town.
The trail down through the last hills of the Angeles National Forest was one of the few places seemingly untouched by recent fire.
As it passed lower, the trail switched back through an extensive grove of what I think was honey mesquite. In full bloom, the sweet cucumber strawberry fragrance transported me to dreams of fluffy white spa towels, massage, and general luxuriation not found in the hiker world. Maybe it’s been done, but someone should bottle that smell and make it their signature scent at a destination spa or upscale hotel somewhere. Delicious!
Below the mesquite groves, the trees and undergrowth gave way to grasslands. The last 6 miles or so the trail became fiendishly inefficient in getting from here to there. It went over hills unnecessarily, looped back on itself, and went well out its way to catch additional miles. It would be like walking to your refrigerator by way of your local grocery store.
The temperature rose steadily and was above 90 by the time I pulled in to Hiker Town where the PCT crosses Highway 138 in Antelope Valley. There were periodic signs on trail for the last 7 miles promising rides on the hour every hour to the Neenach Cafe and Store.
Hiker Town cuts an eccentric presence basically in the middle of nowhere. Someone has converted a large corral into a ‘town’ with Old West facades and services for hikers. Think rustic not fancy. Dropping packs and grabbing shade a growing group waited for the promised ride to food and drink.
Sixteen hot, dusty, thirsty, and hungry souls piled into a white pickup sent over by the café. After a short four mile ride, the swarm descended on the mom and pop convenience store like a plague of locusts. Burgers and slurpees and cookies and fries and candy and Gatorade all fell to the horde.
After putting a considerable dent in the shelf stock of the Neenach café, back we went to Hiker Town to sleep it off and wait for evening.
I took a homeless siesta on the dry, rotting boards behind the ‘hotel’ and planned my evening walk.
From here, the trail follows the California Aqueduct and cuts through a wind farm. The next 20 – 30 miles are best tackled at night so I will walk off into the setting sun and see how far I get.