Get to know the Pacific Crest Trail
January 5, 2019
Every year hikers pass through Tehachapi while travelling the Pacific Crest Trail. Here's some info about the trail and the people in the community who help the hikers along the way.
The PCT may either be traveled south to north or north to south. One end of the PCT is in Campo, Calif. and the other end is located at Boundary Monument 78 on the US/Canada border. It may also be hiked in sections. It is free to hike the PCT, but a permit from Pacific Crest Trail Association is necessary.
They track the number of permits issued each year, but they do not track the completed hikes. Tehachapi happens to be the first city travelers encounter after hiking across the Mojave Desert. Once they reach mile 548 of their approximately 2,600-mile journey, they look for a friendly place to rest and relax before continuing their journey.Once in Tehachapi, an amazing thing happens. Our community reaches out and helps the more than 1,000 hikers that pass through our town. I have heard the following comments from hikers:
"I didn't even need to put my thumb out to get a ride."
"I was in the checkout line at the store and the person behind me gave me a ride."
During their stay, besides resting and relaxing, they often have much needed tasks to accomplish. They have packages to pick up in town that were mailed ahead of time to resupply their packs, or replace worn out shoes. They also communicate with friends and loved ones to give them an update on their progress.
After interacting with the PCT hikers for a few years, Trail Angels of Tehachapi are attempting to make Tehachapi a more coordinated and welcoming spot along the trail. Last year we opened Wits' End and the hiker and trail angel hotline.
Wits' End is a small cottage on Mojave Street. It was initially constructed in the 1920s and is being lovingly restored. During the process, we open our doors to the hikers and provide many comforts and necessities for their time of rest. We cover the walls with canvas and allow the hikers to autograph the "walls." We have hiker boxes available there, too, so if a hiker is tired of some of the food in their pack, they may leave it in the hiker box for someone else to take. We maintain another hiker box of gear and keep blank postcards for hikers to write and decorate to send to family and loved ones. We also have prayer flags for them to decorate with their prayers, dreams and hopes, which are then hung on lines inside the house.
At Wits' End, we accept packages hikers would like to ship forward along the trail. Those packages often include food and other items they will need for the next few weeks. We ship flat rate packages forward for them.
Wits' End also provides free wireless access. A hiker may hang out at Wits' End simply to recharge their phone, check social media accounts and email while waiting for other hiker friends to arrive in Tehachapi.
In addition to the services above, we offer one central number (hotline) for hikers to call or text with their needs. Currently, we focus on providing rides to and from the trail. A hiker may send us a text and in turn, we relay the request to our group of volunteers/trail angels.
If a local trail angel is available to provide transportation, they simply respond to our text message. The local trail angel who responds is then given information on when and where to pick up the PCT hiker and bring them into town.
Wits' End is staffed with volunteers and is open daily from mid-April until the end of June. Wits' End is available year-round for PCT hikers, but staffed during the peak season.
Wits' End is also in communication with three other similar hiker depots. Two are south of Tehachapi and one is north. Wits' End provides much helpful and current information to hikers as they pass through.
There is no charge for any of the services we offer. We do, however, require hikers to pay for their package postage. Throughout the hiker season we enjoy providing a home cooked meal for a backyard picnic. Wits' End is a registered nonprofit and monetary donations are much appreciated. We're also looking for more volunteers.
Hikers often plan their journey years in advance. Wits' End has a social media presence, as well as a physical resource guide to help hikers plan the trip. Information and resources for planning their time in Tehachapi are easily available.
Here's a few PCT facts:
Due to fire closures, the exact length of the Pacific Coast Trail varies slightly every year.
In 2013, 1879 permits were issued. In 2017, 6,069 permits were issued.
In 2018, the trail celebrated 50 years.
A permit is not required for distances less than 500-miles.
Based on our tracking alone, hikers from the USA, Canada, Germany, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, South Korea and Puerto Rico visit our website for information.
While it is certain many people elect to hike the PCT due to their love of hiking and being outdoors, every year I discover hikers that have chosen to hike the PCT to navigate through a challenge in their lives, be it career choice, struggling with PTSD or confronting some other challenge in their lives.
During the first years I offered help, I drove approximately 1,000 miles a week.
True, after the first year I reached a point of fatigue by the end of June. But the last two hikers I picked up in town early one morning changed that. Turns out that last hiker was from a small town near the town where I grew up. Another year, during a conversation with a hiker I picked up I learned he was from Germany. I commented my best friends live in Germany and one of my friends is an opera singer there. This hiker had attended a performance of my friend.
The world is more connected than we realize. Tehachapi is fortunate. The world walks through our city every year.
If you would like to be involved with us, our phone number is (661) 750-4852. Wits' End is located at 115 S. Mojave St. Our mailing address is 1121 W. Valley Blvd. Ste. I-376, Tehachapi CA 93561. Emails may be sent to [email protected]