Day 36 – May 9, 2022
Mile 558.5 (Willow Springs Road/Tehachapi) to 583.3 (Golden Oaks Spring)
24.8 trail miles | 23.6 tracked miles | 5,978 ft elevation gain | 59 F / 15 °C
I am back on trail after a double zero in Tehachapi, CA, and once again, I dodged a weather event. Yesterday’s forecast called for persistent fog, low temperatures, and a wind advisory. A wind advisory while hiking through wind farms is a dreadful prospect. However, lower temperatures are generally a blessing. In any case, the wind fortunately abated somewhat today.
Today’s stretch was almost comically underwhelming. It seemed like this section was designed to be as punishing as possible.
This morning, Michael and I picked up the trail where we left off, at Willow Springs Road (mile 558.5). Joe wasn’t feeling great and decided to skip a few miles. He resumed hiking at Highway 58 (mile 566.5).
Joe didn’t miss much. From Willow Springs Road to Highway 58, the trail meandered aimlessly and miserably through wind farms. I couldn’t make sense of the never-ending switchbacks since the terrain was mostly flat. I ended up taking shortcuts, which is typically frowned upon because of the long-term impact on the environment. On a more positive note, I enjoyed seeing multiple generations of wind turbines, including a few oldies!
The trail eventually reached and followed Cameron Canyon Road for half a mile. Then, I crossed the Tehachapi Loop railroad, a famed 19th century engineering marvel which is hailed as one of the seven wonders of the railroad world. The Loop is a 3,779 foot long spiral that allows trains to climb Tehachapi Pass at a 2.2% grade. Long trains literally loop around themselves!
The Loop was built by 3,000 Chinese laborers for the Southern Pacific Railway Company. It incorporates 18 tunnels and 12 bridges and played an important part in the early development of Los Angeles. Nowadays, the right of way belongs to the Union Pacific Railroad’s Mojave Subdivision. Sadly, there were no trains in sight this morning.
This minor highlight was followed by a boring two-mile walk along Highway 58.
I was thrilled when the trail finally veered off the highway and gained elevation, but the path was horribly exposed. The wind was so strong that I had to fight to stay on my feet. It took me a while to find a suitable spot to sit down for a snack. At least, the temperature was comfortable.
A forested area brought a brief respite, before the trail merged with a tortuous dirt road that was built to the standards of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was ridiculously beat up and rocky, although the grade was quite gentle. One hiker commented on the FarOut hiking app: “I am literally commenting out of boredom.” That sums it up, although I suppose I felt more frustrated than bored.
We reunited with Joe and settled for the night at a campsite near Golden Oaks Spring. The area by the trough was quite crowded, and I regretted not skipping miles and arriving earlier. Obviously, hiker tend to congregate by the few water sources.
Eventually I was able to find a protected spot just a bit higher up on a side dirt road, but today’s highlight was definitely my hot dinner!