Mile 566 to 588
I called Kern Transit last night to find out the bus schedule back to the trail for this morning. I was told the trail is not a scheduled stop, but if I ask the driver he will. I was also told the bus picks up by Kmart at 4:20am, 6:08am, 8:58am, and 9:28am. I preferred the 6:08, but that might mean missing breakfast. I asked the women in the hotel lobby what time I can get breakfast. The hot food will not be out until 7:00, but they start setting up the other food at 4:30am. Perfect. Food at 5:00, bus to trail at 6:08.
I wake to discover I have kicked a pillow off the bed, knocking the cell phone charger cable out of the wall. The phone I thought was fully charging overnight is now at about 30%. ARG! Good grief, what a blockhead! I proceed to the breakfast area where the only thing out is coffee. I drink a cup as I watch a man start to setup. He brings out a bowl of fruit. I take a banana and eat it. He brings out a tray of pastries. I grab and eat a bear claw. He brings out microwavable egg like McMuffins. I zap one and eat it. He brings out milk. I make cereal. Frankly, if he opened a can of Friskies for his cat I would eat it, the Friskies I mean.
We hike to the bus stop where a woman is waiting. She is expecting a bus, but not a bearded man with sticks and a pack, so she jumps out of her skin. She is waiting for the bus to Lancaster. When we mention we are going to the trail, she says we want the same bus. As I look at the schedule at the stop I realize the woman at Kern Transit read me the weekday schedule, not the weekend schedule. It is Saturday and there is not going to be a 6:08am bus, or even an 8:58am bus. The next Saturday bus is 9:25am, a full three and a half hours from now. When I ask the woman what time she thinks the Lancaster bus is coming she says, “Oh I can never figure out that schedule. I just come sit and wait.” When I point out it will be three and a half hours, she just sighs, as if she is waiting for Godot. There is no “I guess I will go get coffee,” no “I can go home and come back in three hours,” no anger or frustration. Just a resigned sigh and a smile.
Todd and I head to the main road to hitch. Traffic at 6:00am on a Saturday is pretty light. Not a single car is heading our direction. For kicks I hold up my “To Trail” sign to cars heading in the opposite direction. A pickup truck whips a u-ie and the driver says hop in. A business manager from a turbine maintenance company just dropped his kid at practice and was heading to get coffee. He decides coffee can wait and rescues us instead. I know I should not continue to be amazed at such kindness from strangers, but I am.
The hike from the highway is steep, but we are blessed with freezing cold winds which frankly make it pleasant. The descent on the other side turns to rocky rutted fire roads through more wind farms. It is getting hotter and not nearly as nice. Our first and only water for the day is 17 miles in. It is a buggy concrete trough, from which we filter and drink. We take about 4 liters. Our next water will not be for another 18 miles which we will not reach until tomorrow.
We enter an ugly burn area. We hope to get through, but end up camping on a exposed ridge. The wind on the ground is not too bad, but the turbines above are spinning like crazy all night.