Today was a real zero. The most effort we expended all day long was to walk about five blocks across this town — and that was to get to a restaurant for dinner. (And, oh man, was it ever worth it!) The rest of the day we basically spent either eating huge amounts of food, taking long naps, or soaking in the hot tub. And it was amazing.
We do actually have a few things to do in this town — most notably, buy enough food for an upcoming five-day stretch on the trail. (This is another one of our few “buy” resupply stops, rather than having boxes mailed to us that we put together before the trip.) How can we not have done this today? We’ve already decided to take a second, luxurious, wonderful zero here tomorrow, and we can do it then. How can we do that? Well, it’s complicated.
Part of that is because we’ve heard that we have friends who’ll be arriving here tomorrow — Treeman and Hedgehog, who we haven’t seen in weeks, will be here, and we’re incredibly excited to see them! Dilly, Dally, Sarge, and Stump will also be here, and we’re really excited to see them again, too, even if we’ve seen them more recently.
But another piece of this requires a little explaining. On the PCT, there’s something known as your “Kennedy Meadows date”. Kennedy Meadows is the starting point of the Sierras on the PCT (watch out if you look it up; there are two Kennedy Meadows in California, and one is much farther north). In most years, you have to time your PCT hike so you hit Kennedy Meadows at the right time: get there too early, and the Sierra will still be covered with enough snow that you’ll just have to sit there for days (or weeks) before you can hike on. Get there too late, and the Sierra will be clear, but you’ll have to rush your hike to have a chance of getting to Canada before the snowstorms hit the north Cascades, in Washington, first.
Note that I say “in most years”. With the just absolutely absurd drought California has been in this year (as in, there’s been basically no snow at all), the Sierras have been vastly more passable than ever, and worrying about getting there too early has been largely a non-issue. However, we’ve been getting reports recently that there have been several significant snowstorms hitting the Sierras recently, dumping a fair bit of snow. Now, this is still nothing like a normal year; usually, during winter, the snow builds up to a base of well over ten feet in many areas, taking weeks or months to melt down completely. There’s no base this year, and melting is fast this time of year, so it shouldn’t be too bad. (Plus, it’s really hard to know how much credence to lend to the rumors that float through the PCT grapevine — you never really know what’s accurate and what isn’t.) Still, getting stuck at Kennedy Meadows itself isn’t a ton of fun — there really isn’t a lot to do there — and so taking an extra zero here, while primarily to see our friends and relax, certainly doesn’t hurt with respect to the snow, either.
(In fact, we’ve heard tales of a number of other hikers who are doing all kinds of crazy things due to the snowstorms, in order to slow down. Some are headed back home with family, some off to a nearby city or two, and we personally know six who are heading off to Las Vegas (!) for four days. If there’s an opposite to hiking the PCT, I think spending four days in Vegas might just be it, but I also think they’ll have a ton of fun, even if Las Vegas isn’t exactly my cup of tea.)
So…here we are, in Tehachapi, spending a day doing almost nothing, and it’s amazing. We connected with some other hikers for breakfast, went out to Henry’s Café, and ordered pretty much all the food they could bring us. We came back, had leftover Thai for lunch, and slept. We soaked in the hot tub until we couldn’t stand it any more, then came back inside and made dinner plans. And then we went for an exorbitant hike of 0.8 miles over to a steakhouse. King Cut Prime Rib, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits, spinach and artichoke dip, seared Ahi tuna, salad, and cheesecake…I can’t even tell you how amazing that all was. Spending a day like this “on the trail” feels incredible. We’re in town, not hiking, relaxing, and we don’t even have to go run chores. It feels positively decadent…and like exactly what we needed.