Good morning from Tehachapi, CA. We’ve covered just shy of 200 miles in nine days since our last post, which means there’s much to share. At this point, most hikers have their eyes fixed on the Sierra Nevada, which they’ll reach in about a week. But, between the National Parks and bucket-list hikes there’s…stuff. A lot of it. People live there. Mountains rise and fall there. We love discovering the oft-overlooked in-betweens, which make up the majority of the experience out here, and to which I dedicate this post.

After a pleasant stay in Wrightwood, we summitted Mt. Baden-Powell, named after the father of the World Scouting movement (boyscouts). The monument at the top informed us that a scout is, among other things, “…clean and reverent.” These two qualities are only sometimes attributable to thru-hikers. Near the top, we also touched a 1500-year-old tree.  Descending through thick fog, we ultimately caught the clouds settling between bends of Hwy 2. It was magic. A few days later, cool and damp weather brought us the unusual opportunity to cook dinner with friends in a privy at Messenger Flats. Ryan and Greg here, making the most of it: Once out of the cloud, we pushed through to Agua Dulce, a tiny town that’s home to Vazquez Rocks (which you’ll undoubtedly recognize from Star Trek, New Girl, or Roswell). We’re typically thorough planners, but found ourselves resupplying around 6:00 PM with no certain campsite in mind for the evening. It would be about three miles until we were out of town and back in the hills, and, even then, a flat campsite wasn’t guaranteed. We weren’t looking forward to it.

In the checkout line, a stranger approached us: “Are you hiking the Pacific Crest Trail? We’re having Mexican food tonight. You should come over for dinner.” Roz was in town for her niece’s wedding. She invited us to spend the night at her brother and sister-in-law’s place and join the extended family that was crashing there. We were still in disbelief as we set our tent up in the back yard where, the next evening, a wedding reception would be held. We were still in disbelief as we showered, did laundry, and dined with some of the best people you’ll ever meet. “Can two strangers camp and clean up at your house the night before your daughter’s wedding? Of course!” If any of you are reading this, thank youFueled by this incredible generosity, we cruised to another hidden gem: Casa de Luna, the home of trail angels Joe and Terri Anderson. The house is known as “a place where we can all be insane together,” and must host close to 1000 hikers a season. Taco salad for dinner, a dance party in the evening, and pancakes in the morning. I’m pretty sure Terri gives a sincere and supportive hug to every hiker who passes through. Our journey of in-betweenness continued with a road walk through the community of Lake Hughes, where we ate fried green beans at a biker-themed bar, The Rock Inn, and then to Hikertown, an odd collection of buildings resembling a movie set from a spaghetti western. We picked up food and filled up on water there, then proceeded to walk along (and on top of) the LA aqueduct for the better part of a hot, flat, dry section through the Mojave. Here’s our fellow hiker Minty Fresh on the pipe: We contemplated the preciousness of water as we wove our way between towering wind turbines all the way to Tehachapi. And, as if we hadn’t had enough trail magic this stretch, a new trail angel, Dalton, was waiting at Hwy 58 to zip us into town, take us to the grocery store, and give us the lay of the land. We’ll likely be having dinner with him and his partner tonight. Another on the long list of wonderful places we’d never thought we’d be. The trail takes us out of ready internet access for the next few weeks, so it may be a while until the next post. Until then, check us out on Instagram for the occasional picture. We’re thinking of you.