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[pct-l] Tehachapi or bust

Class of '98 (and other PCT aficionados),

Here's a report from a friend of mine who recently "pushed the weather
envelope" as the group hiked the PCT from Cottonwood Creek to Tehachapi-Willow
Springs Road. Those who have already hiked through this section might relive
their experience while the Class of '98 can get some insight into what the
Tehachapi Mountains are like this time of year.

Charlie Jones

<< In a message dated 98-04-06 18:28:32 EDT,  cmason@mail.sdsu.edu (Cheryl L.
Mason) wrote:

 Greetings.  Well Jan, Jim, Trish, Lynn and I finished sections E15 through
E17 (maps E-12 thru E15) last weekend.  Although everyone was concerned about
the weather, we headed up to Mojave anyway.  Once this motley band has minds
made up we are determined to persevere.  Unfortunaly, Charlie could not join
us ..., but that is another story.  He was supportive in every way prior to
the trip with weather and trail information, and we thank him.
 Anyway, as it turned out the weekend was wonderful.  After leaving my van at
the junction of Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road and Oak Creek, Jan, Jim and I
met Trish and Lynn near the Cottonood Creek bridge.  These hardy souls camped
out in the vicinity on Friday and Saturday nights.  We left Trish's truck
there, and all piled into Jan's truck to head up to the saddle at Gamble
Spring Canyon (around 4900 feet).  Our thanks to Rob for sharing the location
of this dropoff point.  It allowed us to hike around 13 miles on Saturday and
9 miles on Sunday rather than having 16 miler and 6+ miler days.
 We started hiking S -> N around 8:40A.  For the first 6 miles or so, we had
cool, but clear weather.  Although we could see patches of snow, we did not
really experience snow on the trail until around 5600 feet.  As we wound
around toward the north, we began to have rather heavy snow in which to plod.
The depth ranged from a few inches to around 2 feet.  It was difficult to
determine the exact depth since the snow packed down so well under our boots.
Lynn fearlessly set the pace and paved the way through the snow.  The drawback
was that, on many sections of the trail, bikers had worn a narrow groove.  You
could either walk toe-to-toe or have one foot in the groove and one off to the
side.  We peaked at 6280 feet and then started down.  However, there were a
few places where we climbed up. On our way down we finally came to an area
where we stopped to eat lunch.  Just as we were packing up, the temperature
dropped and the windspeed picked up. After bundling up in warm clothing and
raingear, we started hiking again. For the remainder of the hike we
experienced minimal snow, sleet and rain off and on.  The altitude was the
determining factor as to the consistency of the precipitation.  nonetheless,
no one experienced a chill since we were all prepared for the weather.  As we
ended that day's hike we noticed that the windmills were barely moving at the
Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road area.  Despite the frequent clothing
adjustments, we finished the hike in 7 hours.  All in all, it was a great day.
After retrieving vehicles, we went into Tehachapi for dinner. It was a
wonderfully happy celebration.

 We met at the same place on Sunday morning, placed vehicles and started to
hike from N -> S toward the Cottonwood Creek bridge.  The sky looked ominous,
especially over toward our trail.  However, the sun continued to reappear, and
we hiked the entire day without precipation of any kind.  One of the awesome
parts of the trip was through the canyons and the meadows filled with
wildflowers.  The predominant flowers were poppies (California and
desert),lupine, goldfields, fillaree and desert dandelion with a few chia,
blue dicks, tidy tips and cream cups thrown in. We even had several hundred
sheep to "hike" through.  With the snow covered mountains in the background it
seemed as if we were in the Alps or some other mountainous terrain. Throughout
the last 3 miles or so, we spotted several section markers which really helped
to pinpoint our location.  Except for a couple of places, the trail is well
marked especially at the intersections where bikers have forged trails.  One
just needs to refer to elevation and the map, as usual.
 We walked to Trish's truck and my van.  There we changed clothes and relaxed
for a few minutes.  Trish and Jan went up to retrieve Jan's truck and then we
were off.  The whole area around the aqueduct is fraught with unmarked dirt
roads so you really need to have a navigator and a AAA map of the area.
Because my van has a very low ground clearance (propane tank underneath) and
small tires I was unable to follow Trish and Jan past the deep, water filled
area just north of where 170th ends.  Fortunately, Jan, Jim and Lynn led me
out of the area in another direction.  We reached highway 14 and then parted
ways.  There was no real time to say goodbye to one another, but I think that
we all agreed on the fact that it was a great group and a wonderful weekend.
Where next?
 Seize the day and the moment!  Cher  >>
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