“Bakersfield? There’s no view there. The coast is much more interesting.”
We had a few comments along these lines when we discussed our route north out of the San Diego & LA areas of California. MsBoyink is the route planner so I can’t speak to the complete decision process that went into us being here, but we were overstimulated from being on the busy California coastline, there was a holiday weekend coming up, and even if we could get into them the California State Parks are expensive and don’t always offer hookups.
We also have a book revision to complete, so just generally needed some downtime in a quiet park to rest up and be productive. We had friends stay in this park and commented on how quiet and clean it was, and indeed even the wi-fi is generally acceptable.
Just the getting here proved to require its own day of recovery. We suffered through LA traffic and roads (which I’m convinced are among the worst in the country, I think toddlers with beach pails and shovels could lay smoother concrete) before traversing the infamous Grapevine, a 40-mile stretch of I-5 that twists and turns over the Tehachapi Mountains known for its winds and 6% grades. We actually found getting around LA to be the harder part of the drive - one of those times I’m amazed that we have a trailer left behind us when we stop. We had a great mid-journey break at a shady sports complex at the base of the Grapevine where I grabbed a quick cat-nap before re-fueling and heading over the hill.
I’ve grown to really appreciate our truck during drives like this - and the fact that we have a well-balanced setup between truck and trailer. With the 8.1L engine it has plenty of power to maintain speeds climbing hills and while descending the 6% grades on the North side of the Grapevine I just let the Alison transmission downshift, kept my feet of the pedals, and coasted down hill at 50 MPH with the truck holding us back. I hardly ever have to touch the brakes in situations like that, and occasionally find myself giving it a little gas to keep the speed up a bit.
Once we settled in our real purpose for this stop became clear. I have a friend / colleague / former boss who began an attempt at through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this spring. We probably crossed within 20 miles of each other as he started at the southern terminus of the trail on the same day we entered Southern California on I-8. Paul was now 500 miles into the 2600 mile journey that will end at the US/Canadian Border in British Columbia. He posted an update of his location and checking the map it looked close. I pinged him on Twitter and his route was close- just 45 miles away or so at the next town on the highway our RV park is located on. Since Paul needed to get to the Post Office for some equipment replacements I volunteered to do that.
As it turned out Paul needed a couple of recovery days to let his feet heal, load up on food, and just generally rest for a couple of days. We don’t have a ton of extra room in the trailer but volunteered it anyway and Paul accepted. We were a bit frustrated that the RV park doesn’t allow “tent camping” so he couldn’t pitch his tent on our site, but since “cowboy camping” (sleeping outside with out shelter) is part of the PCT experience Paul was happy to bed down on our outdoor rug for two nights. MsBoyink did a great job of being hostess and keeping food in front of him, and Paul was able to use the campground showers, library, and computer to catch up on things.
We enjoyed learning about the PCT and how Paul has to map the route and budget water and food based on the distances between water. We learned the hikers earn trail names (Pauls is “Blur” because he’s a faster hiker than most). We found lots of parallels between our respective adventures, even though by PCT standards we are living in relative luxury in our RV.
We learned that the PCT has “Trail Angels” that provide encouragement, support, and services for the hikers - keeping water caches maintained, running “hiker hotels” for overnight stays, leaving food in their path, etc. We were happy that our travels intersected with Paul’s such that we could be Trail Angels for a couple of days - and are rooting for him to accomplish his goal of completing the entire trail.
You can read Paul’s blog at http://shapelesschaos.com/