12.6 miles (465.6 to 478.2)
I don’t like this campsite. Traffic is nearly constant, even after dark. Nocturnal rodents scurry near my tent. I worry about them working their way into my Ursack food bag. I finally fall asleep, only to wake at 3:40am, just before my alarm. We leave camp at the crack of 5am.
There are moths everywhere. They were everywhere last night, too. One flies down my shirt. It tickles. I unbutton and let it go, rebutton, and continue on. Below, Bouquet Reservoir looks pretty.
The trail meanders between sun and shadow until the shadows shrink and we’re in full sun. Two hours in, I pause for a shoes-off break. Dad catches up and halts, too. I tell him that I’d like to get to the ranger station on San Francisqito Valley Road before stopping for lunch. That will make 12 miles before lunch, leaving 8 miles for the afternoon. We’re each going to proceed at our own pace, so we may not see each other until the ranger station a few hours from now.
In the next section, I see a Cooper’s Hawk. I pass a few trickling springs. The day is already hot. The chafe-prone area on my lower back starts to flare. By 9am, I have full-blown chafe. I need to stop and deal with this. I give my pants and shirt time to dry; I smear some cream over the little red bumps. I keep moving, and by 9:20 I’ve done 10 miles. I think I can do 11 by 10, except it now feels like I’m getting a blister on the side of my right foot. I need to let my feet dry before this problem fully develops. So I sit in the shade of a shrub and pull of my socks. I eat snacks. After 20 minutes, Dad arrives. One of his toes is painful and red and swollen. This isn’t good. We need to get him to a doctor, but first we’re going to have to hike the last two miles to the ranger station. Hopefully someone there can help us.
I hike ahead searching for cell service, finding none. Dang. We can’t even call for help. Dad manages to limp down to the road. The ranger station door is locked. Now what? We still can’t make a call or send a text. There’s a couple nearby sitting at a nearby picnic table. Maybe they can give us a ride. Turns out the guy is a hiker and his girlfriend drove here to meet him. They take us a few miles down the road to Casa de Luna, a famous hiker stop run by the Andersons.
Our host gives us a ride down the hill to an urgent care clinic in Santa Clarita. The doctor X-rays and examines Dad’s foot and confirms that it’s infected. Dad needs oral and topical antibiotics and at least five days of rest. We discuss options. I’m going to have to hike on alone while Dad heals. He hopes to return to the trail at Tehachapi, 88 trail miles away. We return to Casa de Luna. I take a shower. We take part in the famous taco salad dinner. I lay in my tent, wishing my mind would quiet down enough to sleep. Even if I didn’t have to proceed on my own, I’d be nervous about the coming days. An “excessive heat watch” will go into effect three days from now and continue for at least five days. Can I carry enough water to get through excessive heat?
First I need to get to Hikertown, almost 40 miles (hopefully two days) away. Then I’ll do another 48 miles (another two days?) to Highway 58, where I’ll get a ride into Tehachapi. I don’t know if I can do four 20s in a row on my finicky feet. I don’t know if I can do 20 miles in 100+ degrees, period. I’m about to be tested in ways I’ve never been tested before.
*More photos on Instagram.