It was a beautiful start to the day with homemade pancakes, eggs and bacon. Everyone very slowly got their stuff together and made their way outside ready to load up and head out. Kathy and Scott took us the scenic route out of Bear Valley. I’m going to remember this town forever. We dropped off ADL, Prometheus, Not-A-Minor, Fake News, Cheers & Sun Bear at the Red House BBQ and headed back to the trail head. Our bags were heavy in our backs loaded with food to get us 130 miles or so. We came across Co-op slack packing the 8 mile stretch between the two highway entrances to Tehachapi and were envious of the ease at which he strolled along with no pack on his back. At the end of the foot hills a future thru-hiker and current trail angel gave us some fruit and water, but this was cut short by a sudden storm. We walked as fast as we could to the highway among the thunder and hail, hoping to find an underpass for shelter.

MY POLES! I’VE FORGOTTEN MY BLOODY POLES! I left the others to run back to grab my poles but by the time I got there a flash flood was pouring down the hills and submerging the road. I tried to find a way around it but the longer I was there the more it surrounded me, eventually cutting me off on all sides with raging rivers. This was not good. I could see my poles were safe on an island between two floods, but with the situation getting more and more dangerous there was no way of getting to them. I had to run back and cross several deep torrents of water, the hardest crossings of the trail so far. When I returned to the others the weather had calmed down and Molly and I returned for the poles, successfully retrieving them, but there was carnage everywhere (see video below). The road was destroyed! A hiker returning from the hills confirmed that the trail had been whipped out along with several wooden bridges. Thank goodness I got away from there when I did. After recovering with the others we pressed on for a few more miles settling our tired selves in among Joshua trees under a now clear sky. It was a short but dramatic day.