Day 49- Solstice

We were up early but moving slowly. The stars were beautiful overnight- I recommend cowboy camping (no tent) as often as possible because you get such an incredible view of the sky. It may not have been the most remote view, but the juxtaposition of the highway lights and the blinking turbines with the starry expanse over the mountains was inspiring.

Bandaid got little sleep due to the heavy winds flapping the walls of his tent all night. It was a chilly morning and the wind was not letting up. The news in town had talked about heat waves, but apparently up here in the mountains that didn’t apply. It may look like hot, desolate desert, but it never broke 70 degrees with the wind whipping around us all day.

Today was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. On trail, the solstice is well-known for another reason: it is Naked Hiking Day. Many hikers participate to varying degrees, some fully embracing their birthday suit for the whole day, some just long enough to take a tasteful photo or two, others just wearing somewhat fewer articles of clothing than usual. I had decided ahead of time to just hike in my underwear, but the guys had ordered themselves black man thongs and SPF 100 sunscreen for the occasion. They had modeled them in the privacy of our hotel room in Tehachapi and I should have gotten a picture then- the wind and low temperatures kept the guys shivering in their full hiking garb for the whole day. Sorry all, no pictures of hairy hikers in thongs today.

We took a long lunch, resting in the sun for once. It really was a beautiful day and we had fun joking with one another and playing catch with rocks and sticks. In some ways, you can reconnect with your inner child out here, away from all of the THINGS- the screens, the distractions, the excessive amount of STUFF- your easygoing, imaginative, creative side starts to come back. That may mean throwing rocks at your friends, drawing in the dirt, making up songs or swordfighting with sticks. We’re really just overgrown children out here.

My ankles were struggling at this point, as they have been for a while. My right ankle freezes up every time we stop and both are quite swollen. I think it is because I naturally pronate when I walk (roll my feet inward), and the cushioning in most shoes allows for ankle rotation. My old Xero shoes had no cushioning so I didn’t have these issues early on, but now my ankles hate me. ANYWAY, I was limping. A lot. We made our way to Golden Oaks Spring, where we decided to camp for the night.

The spring itself was piped into a trough in a flat, shady spot. There was a very full trash bag tied to a bush, and we heard that there was also a curious bear in the area. Sounded like a bad idea to camp next to this bag of bear bait, but my ankle didn’t care. The dirt was so hard packed in some spots that I couldn’t drive in my tent stakes and instead had to pile rocks on the guylines. Whatever.

While we were setting up camp, a hiker named Honeymoon strolled in and decided to join us. He is doing big miles every day so we likely won’t see him again, but it was nice to see and chat with someone new for the evening. Hoping we don’t get eaten by a bear tonight!

Miles: 13.9

Trail magic: 0

Hiked with: Bandaid, Jailbreak

Camped with: Bandaid, Jailbreak, Honeymoon

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