Distance hiked today: 21.6 miles / 34.8 km.
Still exhausted, I slept in more than I wanted to and didn't leave camp until 7:20. After a bit of up and down it was a big downhill into Walker Pass. The terrain was different again - it seems to change every day in some way, going from open and sandy, to pine trees, to Joshua trees, to round boulders, to sharp cliffs to rolling hills. Even though I'm doing the same thing every day (walking…), each day is new and different in its own way. The days also feel so long, because they are, but also because where I wake up and where I go to bed are totally different and there's so much to see in between.
I reached Walker Pass for lunch, where there's a small campground and picnic tables. One is the designated hiker table where there are water jugs and people hang out. There was a van parked in the next site over, where one might expect there to be trail magic if there was any. It's a common place for it, easily accessible by the highway. The couple in this van didn't know about trail magic though - apparently someone had asked. But upon learning about the trail they handed out a few beers and watermelon. Some hikers hitched into Ridgecrest or Lake Isabella, and MacGuyver brought back cases of beer and ice for some hiker-provided trail magic. A local named Tie Dye (who wears a tie dye shirt of course) gives rides in and out of town most of the day in his squeaky car, telling stories about all the movies he's been in as an extra.
At 5:30pm I set off to climb the mountain on the other side of the pass, getting it done in the cooler evening. When I got to the top many of the good tent sites were taken, sheltered by piles of branches or rocks that others before us built with hopes of a good night's sleep. I picked what I thought was a second-tier spot, but actually turned out to be very sheltered as it was slightly above the saddle where it was most windy, and the wind seemed to be blown over my tent by the hill.
Trail life is a simple life, revolving around water, the possibility of trail magic, and sheltered, flat tent spots. And snacks.
Total trail mileage: 656.9 miles / 1057 km