The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

PCT: Trail of the Angels

Adventure On The Trail

 

Sam K White

The water drop at Cameron Road is a welcome sight to the "voyageurs." Sometimes they may discover some soda pop in addition to the water. Here they find the list of Trail Angels and contact info.

Last issue I left you with time for a pause. During this pause I learned a bit about the Tehachapi Trail Angels.

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail 2000, commonly known as the PCT, is a pathway that leads intrepid backpackers from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada – over 2,500 miles. A few attempt to cover the long distance in one journey. Most, like myself, do what is called "section hiking." (A little bit here and a little bit there.)

I have also volunteered as a local "Trail Angel," one of a group of 20 plus Tehachapians that delightfully provide services to the weary traveler.

The services we provide can be as little as a ride to town from where the PCT crosses the Tehachapi-Willow Springs highway at Cameron Road, to as much as opening up a home to one of these weary travelers and letting them use a personal vehicle (see the November 2013 issue of The Loop for Debbie Williams' first-hand experience), or anything in between.

Maintaining the water drop at Cameron Road, my job, led me to an encounter. I drove up, checked out the water, walked down the trail, and began picking up colorful items that conflicted with the desert drab. Along the trail, I discovered something glorious....

I found some Desert Groundsels, a member of the sunflower family, in blazing bloom. They were everywhere. The vibrant yellow blossoms and deep green leaves of this flower were spread in a fragrant bouquet, expressing joy at the Spring's warmth.

Wow, what a delightful landscape. I wonder who designed it?

At the bottom of the hill a traveler was walking across the bridge. Heavy pack, sunburned face, a big smile when she saw me. Her phone battery had gone dead, and she had no way to connect with her contact in town. We refer to an occurrence such as this as "Trail Magic." Sometimes – when you are feeling down on the trail because of lack of food, water, morale, companionship, sunshine or a dead phone battery – something unexpected comes along and makes all your troubles disappear. This "Trail Magic" is frequently delivered by a Trail Angel.

One of the beauties of being a Trail Angel is that one meets the most interesting people. For example, Katie - the traveler I met at the bridge - in her early thirties, blond hair in a pony tail, trim and athletic; she had a floppy hat, nice smile and was friendly. She shared that she is a musician, cello mostly, from Santa Barbara; and a section hiker with plans on taking this summer to travel as many sections of the PCT as she can, and some she has already crossed off her list. She hopes to complete the trail by early Fall. She did not object when I offered to carry her pack up the hill to the car. Katie is an ultra light backpacker, so I could handle the weight without looking like a wimp. Fortunately for me, there was only two liters of water left of the twelve liters (26 pounds) she had when she started at Hikertown; a place on the 138 Highway located about 58 miles to the south. She used my phone to contact her friend in town, then we drove to Kohnen's Bakery for a sandwich, photos and some conversation. We were soon joined by Katie's friend Christy (Rockin'). Christy lives here in Tehachapi, is a school teacher, and guess how she spends her summers... Yep. Almost done with the PCT, she has an interruption this summer, as she is doing "The Great Outdoors Challenge" – a very challenging backpack in Scotland.

I learn so much from these hikers. I have discovered that "Trail Magic" works both ways. For example: Here I am sitting with the warm sun on my back on the front deck of Kohnen's Bakery with two very pretty ladies and we discuss tales of the trails. Our mental images are fueled with conversation of the trail, and our passion is obvious.

Example number two: Greg (Cinch) and Curtis (White Rabbit). Early this year I was taking a look at the PCT with an interest on doing a backpack trip sometime in the future. At the Cameron Road water drop there was a list of Trail Angels. I wrote in my name and phone number.

A couple months passed, then one morning I received a call from Greg. He and Curtis requested a ride to town, and I quickly obliged (anything to distract me from gardening and other chores).

These guys are incredible. Retired firemen from the Sacramento area, both were over six feet tall, two hundred plus pounds, no fat and had bulging muscles. I was glad they were friendly. Greg is turning 60 this year and plans to complete the entire PCT before the big event. Curtis is not far behind in both cases. Both are section hikers. They have been packing together – sometimes with their families, and sometimes just them, for many years.

They bought me breakfast at Kelcy's Cafe. The conversation was mostly comparing notes and exchanging views of the trail. The emotions very parallel to the Kohnen's conversation above.

Sam K White

One of the many pleasures of being a Trail Angel is meeting and sharing trail tales with delightful people such as Katie at Kohnen's Bakery, where we had lunch.

When I dropped them off the next morning along Highway 58 we walked through the gate and to the pathway. They are loaded with their 40 plus pound packs, headed north with Walker Pass, their next stop, some 60 miles. We hugged and they headed up the trail. A hint of tears in my eyes as I watched their quick-paced progress upward, I thought, "Soon I will follow". I later learned that they made this trek in three days. I then thought, "Soon I will follow, but not at that speed".

The role of the Tehachapi Trail Angels is to delightfully provide and receive the above benefits. If you have a love for the freedom the PCT offers so many, and would like to be an Angel, contact Anne Marie-Novinger: annemarienovinger7@gmail.com, or myself: samattheloop@yahoo.com.

Next issue I am headed south, to the San Gabriel, mile 403 to mile 418 of the PCT, it promises to be a dramatic voyage. Stay tuned. For my more attentive readers of my articles, I have hinted at some "Trail Names" I've been able to pick up on my travels.

 
 

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