Tehachapi turns into a goldmine for weary travelers walking the approximately 2,650 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Most hikers start at the Mexican border, and then hike, step by step, to the Canadian border, through the states of California, Oregon and Washington. In our area, the trail goes through western Antelope Valley and over the eastern end of the Tehachapi range.
You’ll find these hikers coming through our town in droves in April, May and June. Fewer come before and after these three months. They like everything about our little town, and bring tourist dollars, smiles and opportunities to learn about their experiences and backgrounds.
Most PCT hikers will be hiking from south to north on the trail. They will exit the PCT at the Tehachapi/Willow Spring Road near its intersection with Cameron Canyon Road or on Highway 58 at the Cameron Canyon Road overpass. At that point, they look for rides into or from Tehachapi to stay in our motels before continuing their journey.
This is where our little town has, since 1996, elicited the help of Trail Angels to help with the transportation. Not an organization, Trail Angels is a list of people who volunteer to help with transportation or other needs of the travelers. Some pause in Tehachapi to recharge and pick up supplies mailed to them at our Post Office, wash their clothes, eat at our restaurants, or even to see a movie.
The City of Tehachapi Municipal Airport Aviator Park in town provides a place to sleep for three days at $5 a day. PCT hikers often jokingly refer to themselves as "hiker trash." If they haven't yet had a chance to get a shower or wash their clothes, you quickly begin to understand from where this descriptive title originates.
If you see backpackers, easily recognized with their backpacks, hiking boots and tans, offer them a lift as they walk to or from lodging, camp spots, the Post Office or market. You may find a person from Australia, France, Brazil or China sitting beside you. They all bring different backgrounds, experiences and smiles.
Trail Angels are usually asked for rides from anywhere from one to three PCT hikers. Angels need to keep in mind that their vehicle needs to be large enough to accommodate the number of hikers but also their individual backpacks. Angels can assist as much or as little as they want and can specify times and days when they are unavailable.
Your first name and contact telephone number would be placed on a list of Angels posted at trailheads and around businesses in town. If you get a call and are not home or can’t help, the hiker usually calls someone else on the list.
If you are available and interested in helping spread Tehachapi’s goodwill, please contact Georgette at 661-822-4371 or Kathi at 661-855-4101.
Linda McDermott has been a Trail Angel for many years.