Tehachapi – Willow Springs Rd to CS573.3 (558.5 to 573.3)
Daily miles: 14.8
The Chimney Fire has been contained, and all the hikers rejoice. Somehow it didn’t damage the trail at all, so the closure is lifted. Very good news, obviously. I manage to get out of Tehachapi before noon via a lift from local trail angel Peggy. We talk about the trail, and the town, and the windmills. Soon enough I’m back walking amongst the giant spinning beasts and, I can’t believe it, enjoying the wind. I must have gotten used to it at some point, or else maybe it’s just nice to have a stiff breeze blowing on a warm day.
The hills are brown, rolling, eroded away here and there and forming small gullies which channel the storm water. Meet up with Killer and Nate, never seen them before, and we walk a mile and a half to the highway where they hitch into town and I begin my climb up into the mountains. I get lost, and decide to return to the trail by walking cross country rather than backtracking. Of course, I take a nasty spill on a steep gravel ravine and land squarely on my pack. 20 minutes later I feel a drip and immediately realize the fall must have punctured my water bladder. So I take it out, find the leak, duct tape it, and position it in my pack so the drip faces up and that seems to solve the problem. I can’t afford to lose 2.5 liters of carrying capacity on this section, but I think the fix should hold.
It’s way up to the top of the mountains where the wind wants to blow me sideways. When it’s at my back it pushes me down trail so that my feet have to scurry to keep up. Some species of evergreen lives up here, resilient and wind-tested. At 7:30 I enter a grove with a wonderful campsite held within. I set up my tent, totally sheltered, as the wind whooshes and stirs the branches above me. It’s noisy, but calm. I’m thrilled to be able to sleep at night instead of hike. So I nestle in, listen to some music, and then put in ear plugs to drown out the noise of the wind.