Dance party at the gas station.  Dance party at the gas station.

In Tehachapi (mile 566) we say our goodbyes to Simba, who’s going home for a while to attend a wedding.

It’s a sad thing. Leaving a family member behind, not knowing when you’ll see them again. Simba has quickly become the funny uncle, with a big heart and great advice on life.

The sky fades from red to orange to yellow. The moon and the northern star rest above in the light blue sky. Mountains are lines of contrast in different shades. Early morning fog lies in between the lines. In the distance a city is shimmering.

We walk down the mountain and into the orange sun.

The hottest stretch of the Southern California section comes in the week before we enter the Sierra Nevada mountains. To escape the heat and danger of dehydration, we wake up long before sunrise. Sometimes it’s still too late. I quote from my journals: “Woke up late. Mistake. Incredibly hot. Very dead.”

At 6 am me and Hummingbird take the bus from Walker Pass (mile 652) into Ridgecrest to resupply. Country music plays on the radio as we drive through the desert morning.

We run up a hill to watch the sunset. It’s one of the things about Southern California that I’ll miss, the magical colors of the sky as the sun sets or rises.

On our last day before Kennedy Meadows me and Snorkel run into Nohawk, a Trail Angel who thru hiked the PCT in 1977. He’s doing trail magic. The best sort. He has anything you could ask for. Food, snacks, beer, wine, soda, guitars. In the morning he even made pancakes. Who could’ve asked for a better ending to the first section?

We made it. 700 miles, 42 days. Kennedy Meadows. The gateway to the Sierra section. The end of the desert.

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