Posted by: blinklove | August 6, 2010

Hot, Hot Hot!!!

Hello everyone!  We arrived in Ridgecrest yesterday. We had a very productive four days out in the desert, which has positively impacted my outlook on the rest of the trail.  Good news- we are in shape!

Getting from one city to another is always a hassle when you have never been there before and you don’t have a car.  We made it to Tehachapi last Saturday. Though small, the town is rather spread out so we spent a good bit of time hitchhiking around shopping for food and sending packages.  Everyone we met in Tehachapi was soooooooo nice.  Many people in the post office asked about our journey and a very kind couple offered us a ride to the grocery store. When dropping us off, they gave us their number and insisted we call them when we needed a ride back to the PCT …I love people.

Bear print!

We made it to the trail late in the evening so we just did three miles to a campsite.  We woke up early and hiked a 24 mile day. The only people we met were two dirt bikers who were curious if we had seen all the bear scat. We told them not yet, but we did seem some bear prints.  Maybe a bear soon?

We were a little nervous about water the next day. There was supposed to be a water cache, but the last cache we passed was empty.  We decided we could not count on the cache because of our off beat timing on this section. Without the cache, we were looking at a 29 mile stretch without water in 100 degree weather.  We hiked 8.5 miles to a spring, arriving at the beginning of the 29 mile dry stretch. We decided it would be best to take a nap, and night hike as much of the 29 as we could.  We slept on our mats until we couldn’t stand the buzzing of flies and feeling of ants crawling on us anymore. We headed out around 6:00. We walked just a quarter of a mile from the spring before meeting a family of cows walking down the trail in our direction! I have never met a complete family of cows. I was a little weary of the bull, wondering if he would feel the need to protect his wife and two calves.  They were extremely polite however, and after checking us out for a few minutes, went off trail to the left to let us pass.  It was a lovely encounter.   

After hiking just a little bit more we came across some mountain lion tracks which is always exciting.  You can identify between a dog/coyote/wolf print and a mountain lion print in a few different ways.  One is by the lack of a third lobe on the pad of the dog print. Another is that dog prints shows claw marks, while cougar’s only will if they are running or pouncing. These distinctions are the easiest ways we have found to differentiate between the two.  Example:  

As the sun was setting I passed right by another animal.  He was sleeping when I passed, but after we watched him for a minute, the coiled up rattlesnake became aware of our shared presence.  I never would have noticed him without Stephen. He blended in with the sand and was pressed so tightly against the rock, soaking up the last bit of its warmth before night fell. He was simply beautiful and we left him to fall back asleep.    

Around 1:00 am we had hiked another 14 miles and arrived at the water cache- FULL! What a great moment.  I was just certain it would be empty, given we are the only people crazy enough to still be in the desert in August.  We were thrilled and set up camp for the night.  We tried not to sleep in too late the next morning, hoping to hike some decent miles before the oven turned on full heat. We ended up hiking 15 miles and were lucky enough to find another full cache. We were pretty worn out from the previous 23 mile day and decided to take a nap there.  That nap lasted until 5:00 the next morning.  Oops! I guess we needed it! 

We got an early start to our 21 mile day into town.  It was another scorcher, but at least we were loaded with water. We saw a jack rabbit and Stephen with his 20/20 saw a road runner! We managed pulling off the 21 miles in 7.5 hours.  So there you go, 86 miles in 4 days. We are taking a zero here today and heading back out tomorrow morning.  Only 50 miles to Kennedy Meadows!

I am especially excited about the next section because my sister and brother will be joining us. My sister is flying from NC, and my brother from NY. We have never done anything like this together and I am really looking forward to it.  We have planned for them to meet us in a town called Lone Pine.  We will then hike north about 50 miles with them and they will get back off the trail in Independence.  We still have around 90 miles to complete before we meet them on the 12th, so we are off to the trail again tomorrow!

 I hope all of you are doing well, Stephen and I miss you and greatly appreciate your support!

Who left this print?




  1. I am so happy that your siblings will be joining you!!!!! That makes my heart so happy! That will be so wonderful to see them. I miss you both so so much. LOOOOOOOVE

  2. I loved the part of the cows 🙂 and the part of the prints.
    My wishes for lots of full water caches!

    Go terrific mountaineer Kiersteads + Dunn!!

  3. And one more thing – thanks for the details on how to tell the difference between paw prints. Very cool!

  4. Always wonderful to get an update from you guys! And it’s fun to hear about the critters you meet along the way. Thanks for keeping us all posted. Sending special thoughts your way…

  5. I LOVED your description of the Family of Cows. You both have such kindness in your hearts toward all the animals, the snakes, the paw prints, even the ants, that you just radiate. Thank you, Heather and Stephen.

  6. WOW, the education I am getting from reading your posts are awesome. So glad to hear you are still hiking, and that your siblings are joining you for a stretch…now how cool is that!!!!!


  7. What an unforgettable 4 days! Glad you’re safe and through the most challenging part of the desert!

  8. What a great read – you are a terrific writer! I love and miss you and can hardly wait to see the photos. xoxoxox

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