Hi, my name is Isko Salminen.
I'm an adventure seeker and I love exploring nature with my camera and Australian Shepherd called Fire

Day 36: Night-hiking the LA aqueduct

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Date: June 4, 2017
Miles: 24.1 miles (38.8km), from Hiker Town to Tylerhorse Canyon at mile 541.5.
Health: My right shin is hurting and after 10 miles walking becomes painful.

We're crossing the Mojave desert today and tomorrow. As temperatures at the desert get really high, and there's practically no shade, we're hiking this section during the night.

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We spend the entire day just relaxing and eating at the Wee Vill Market. I eat tacos, burgers, and milkshakes all day. Everything is really good and all the amenities are easily available. This is one of the perks of thru-hiking: you can eat like a pig and still lose weight.

Blis.  

Blis.  

We try to sleep in the small areas of shade but the flies and the heat make it impossible to fall asleep and soon retreat back to the cool air of the market. Waking up early, not having any sleep during the day, and going out for an all night hike is not the best option. Sadly there's not much we can do.

When it's hot outside.  

When it's hot outside.  

We eat and rest and eat and rest. Finally the sun starts to set and we start to head back towards Hiker Town. Our ride arrives and we all hop on. After an interesting 10 minute ride we arrive. While everyone's getting ready Blü and Fyre join us from Hiker Town. There's a lot of hugging and yelling.

Hiker roar! 

Hiker roar! 

From Hiker Town the trail goes along a small road for awhile. We sing and dance down the road towards the Mojave and the sunset and everyone's in a really great mood. I love the goofiness of our trail family.

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After the road walk we reach the open part of the aqueduct and turn sharply to right. We walk along the concrete side and wonder why the water seems to be going away from LA until we realize it's probably going towards the water treatment plan down the road.

The end.  

The end.  

Soon we take another sharp turn to the left and cross the open stream. From here the aqueduct continues as a large metal pipe. The trail follows on the top of the pipe and we form a line like ducks. It starts to get dark.

We follow the pipe for few miles and more singing and laughing occurs. While the trail would be pretty fast to hike on, as it's mainly flat and straight, we move really slow. It gets so dark that we need to turn on our headlamps.

Hiking along the aqueduct.  

Hiking along the aqueduct.  

We take another sharp turn, this time to the right and leave the pipe behind. Now the aqueduct follows underneath us in a concrete channel and as we walk on top of it, we can hear the sound of the rushing water. Now the trail is so wide that we all walk side-by-side. This is fun as normally you could never do this on the trail, and now you can hear what everyone in the group is saying. We played all kinds of games to make the time go by.

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Even though it's already late, the desert floor is still very hot. We stop every now and then to have a drink pause and just cool our bodies. I look at the clock and our progress and we're doing about 2 miles per hour. A far cry of what we usually do.

As the trail turns up from the desert floor towards the wind farm, the wind picks up. The large windmills look eerie against the black night sky. Soon it gets so windy that we have to put on our wind or rain jackets to get some protection. The wind is so heavy that we need to really lean into it to keep walking.

My right shin has been progressively getting worse and worse as we have hiked. By now it's hurting so bad that I keep popping vitamin I like it's candy. I'm sure the ibuprofen is taking the worse of the pain away but it still hurts so much that I'm limbing and keep biting my lip. I can barely keep up with the group even though they slow down to wait for me.

Entering the wind farm.  

Entering the wind farm.  

Blis keeps me company and talking with him distracts from the pain a little. But still the last miles to the bridge where we've planned to stay for the night are pure pain. It's already 2am and I'm tired but we would need to wake up in two hours to hike the 7 miles to the only shade where to spend the day sleeping. I know myself, and with my limbing, that I won't make it there before the sun comes up, so I decide to keep going. It means I have to hike throughout the night, against heavy wind, limbing, to get to the shade.

Few people tell me to stay, looking at my limbing, but I have to choose between limbing in dark and cold, or in sunlight and extreme heat. I choose the colder weather.

Watching the sun rise behind the windmills.  

Watching the sun rise behind the windmills.  

Pony and Queso also want to get all the way to the canyon before the sun comes up and leave with me. Pony gives me some muscle relaxers and stronger painkillers. Me and Queso head out first and Pony says she'll follow us.

I can't keep up with Queso in any way and I stay behind immediately. Pretty soon I don't even see his headlamp anymore. I'm limbing alone in the dark, trying to protect my face from the wind, and try to avoid stepping on the small jumping desert mouse that cover the trail. They get completely disoriented when my headlamp hits them and start running against my legs. Few run against me and I try my best to avoid the cute little beasts. Hope I don't see any rattlers.

Every now and then I look back but I don't see Pony's headlamp. Strange. She's a fast hiker and I'm basically crawling forward, she should catch me in no time.

The combination of the wind and the pain on my shin gets tiring and I have to take breaks constantly to rest and stretch. On one long uphill I finally run completely out of energy and as I see a small brush that provides a little coverage from the wind, I stop for a small night lunch. Looking at my progress I'm doing about 1.5 miles per hour, which means I barely make it to the canyon before the sun starts to heat up the desert.

Pony catching up to me.  

Pony catching up to me.  

As I get up to walk again, I see a headlamp climbing not far behind me. Pony. I hike slowly upwards, she'll catch me soon. We stop in the wind, between the windmills, to talk for awhile. She's also having a tough time. I wish her luck and she soon speeds ahead of me.

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The sun is already getting up and we see the scenery better. I catch up to Pony every time she stops to take photos of the hundreds of windmills around us. This would be a perfect spot and timing to take some great sunrise photos but I'm too tired to stop. I just try to take few snaps and keep limbing. Need to get to the canyon before the sun gets too high.

Finally I reach the last climb up and at the bottom I meat Dragon and Andrew who've camped there. They comment that I look like shit. I feel like shit. I quickly continue as I just want to get up and to sleep.

The canyon.  

The canyon.  

The climb feels like torture and my tired legs aren't helping. When I see the canyon I start to smile. I see Pony and Queso setting up a camp under a tree below and yell to them to keep me a spot. I hop and limb down as fast as I can and set up my tyvek and sleeping bag and quickly fall asleep. Rough night but made it here before others and before the sun made the air too hot for me to hike. The plan is to stay here all day and then start the next climb as the sun sets.

Now it's time to sleep.