I woke up to a stray cat walking over me. We had left the window open to get some air circulation, but the lack of screens apparently just invited in the feline citizens of Hikertown. It was still dark as we packed our things, moving somberly and purposefully, eager to get out of this vortex.
The moon shone brightly as we ducked out the gate and finally set foot on the familiar dirt path that carried us here. We hiked quietly but quickly, mentioning how we felt like we would come around the corner and there would be the gate of Hikertown, like some terrible hiker twilight zone or Groundhog’s Day. We saw kangaroo rats bouncing in the dirt as the trail followed back roads on our way to the infamous aqueduct.
The sun began to rise across the desert, sending a show of colors into the sky. We reached the spot where the trail meets the aqueduct, a giant steel pipe above the ground, water rushing through it to LA. Soon the ground came up to meet the pipeline and only the top was visible.
We walked along the uneven surface for a while before it disappeared under a layer of pavement that continued for many miles. As soon as the sun was up, the temperatures rose and the heat radiated off of the pavement. My hip began to throb from walking on the concrete and continued to get worse no matter how many breaks I took. The guys found a large tree a bit off trail and coerced me to stop for lunch even though my stubbornness wanted to just push on.
This giant juniper was the only thing providing shade and once we were under it, we were so grateful for its existence. The sun was beating down making it too hot to think, let alone hike. We relaxed for hours, our feet up in the shade. There were dozens of owl pellets amongst the fallen juniper berries and Bandaid and I entertained ourselves by pulling apart a few of them and examining the bones inside.
Eventually the temperature was tolerable again and we made our way back to the trail which then took us into another wind farm. The turbines were a feat of engineering, impossibly tall and majestic in their own way. We were still on a paved access road with vehicles occasionally passing us.
We got ourselves to our only water source of the day: a pump at Cottonwood Creek Bridge. It was strange to be walking on top of the pipeline that brings water to LA and be able to hear it rushing below but to not have access to any water for so many miles. My hip was hurting and we were all beat after not getting much sleep in the Twilight Zone the night before. We chose a spot near the bridge and set up camp, grateful to be done for the day and done with the aqueduct.
Hiked with: Jailbreak, Bandaid
Camped with: Jailbreak, Bandaid