Jacob Leistra / "Game Boy" / PCT 2019

Day 33: Night Hiking the Aqueduct

Mile 517.6 -> Mile 534.9

The next section is relatively simple: hike the 20ish miles along the Los Angeles aqueduct. The catch is that it’s entirely unshaded and regularly the hottest section of the entire PCT. Our plan was to leave Wee Vill at 6 PM, hike 20+ miles, and finish the high 20 miles to get into Tehachapi tomorrow.

That was the plan until three of the trail family (plus Governor) decided to do the 24/24/24 challenge. The challenge, in a nutshell, is to drink 24 beers over 24 hours while also completing 24 miles. It’s essentially Hiker Trash Alcoholism: The Starter Kit. I decided not to participate, hoping the night hike would be easy.

Wellz it wasn’t particularly easy for me, and I can only imagine how it was for the others. We started out at 6:30 and it was still 80-something degrees out. As the sun dipped down and the hiking started, I realized I severely burned my thighs while laying around without sunscreen at Wee Vill. Ouch, but there’s still hiking to be done.

Hiking at night is surprisingly tough from a mental perspective. You eventually fall into a rhythm where you can see using only the moon and stars. You eventually stop worrying about what little thing scurried off trail, or what the silhouette of a Joshua Tree looks like. You just hike.

At about midnight I was thrashed. Horse Seducer and I stopped at a water source around 17 miles into our planned 20-something. We covered the majority of the aqueduct, but we still needed to be up early the next morning to escape the heat.

Without a doubt we saw some of our best views tonight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shades of a blue sky, or realized just how pretty a “pink and white” sky is at sunset.

Main Photo: The Los Angeles Aqueduct in the golden hour on June 11.