Day 42: Slack-Packing Is Progress, Right?

So, after admitting that we’ve gotten sucked into a bit of a vortex in Tehachapi, we think we found a way to have our cake and eat it, too. (At least for today.) There are actually two “exits” from the PCT to Tehachapi — it first crosses Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road, which is where we hitchhiked in, and then, about eight miles later, it crosses CA–58, a much bigger highway, which is apparently just about impossible to hitchhike from. Also, once you pass the first road, there’s no water on the trail for over 25 miles, which is awful (because you have to carry a lot of water, which weighs a ton) — so anything we can do to reduce that stretch would be wonderful.

The solution? Slack-packing! Slack-packing is the term for hiking a section of trail with something less than full pack; typically, it means having someone else shuttle your gear from one place to the other, allowing you to carry only the bare necessities for a day hike (like water, snacks, and so on). Fortunately, the fact that our friends Dilly and Dally rented an actual car here in town gives us an easy solution: since they volunteered to take us, we’re getting a ride to the first road, hiking the eight miles to the second road, and then getting a ride back. Voilà! In one fell swoop, we manage to stay in a hotel last night and tonight but not make this a (slightly embarrassing) third zero in a row, since we will have knocked off eight miles of trail; we get to carry as little as we want on this stretch of trail; and we get to reduce the amount of water we’ll have to carry tomorrow by eight miles’ worth, which is significant.

(Those who know me will find it perhaps unsurprising, if still amusing, that I actually took my entire pack with me for the eight miles — just the food and water I needed for that stretch, but everything else with me, too. I did this just so that I can potentially say at the end that I carried my entire pack and everything in it all the way from Mexico to Canada. Obsessive much?)

The hike today was rather uneventful, frankly, much like what we’d done coming into Tehachapi in the first place, winding through more wind farms and slowly climbing up and down hills. However, the combination of (a) knowing that you’re only doing eight miles today no matter what, (b) having a hotel room to go back to at the end of it, and (c) having a really light pack made the hike easy — we finished it in record time.

Having knocked off the eight miles easily, we headed back to Tehachapi for one last (no, really, last!) night in the hotel. Showers, dinner, milkshakes for dessert, and an episode of Game of Thrones on my iPhone rounded out the night. This time, we actually have a plan to escape tomorrow, and the means to execute on it. As wonderful as this town has been to us…it’s time to get back on the trail!

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