Many Pacific Crest Trail hikers are starting to make their way to Tehachapi to rest and refuel before going on the more than 2,000-mile journey between the Mexican and Canadian boarders.
People from all over the world find Tehachapi a friendly place to stop along their way to receive packages, rest and buy needed items. Many have their own stories to tell about why they are attempting the journey — all adverturers hoping to finish after four to six months.
John Clevel, originally from New York, found Tehachapi a nice place to stop.
“Tehachapi is amazing and the people are unselfish and welcoming. I hadn't even put my thumb out when a lady with kids stopped and asked me if I needed a ride,” Clevel said.
The central location of hotels, restaurants and venues to help hikers with information and rides to and from the trail, and a place to camp at the Tehachapi Muncipal Airport, make the area an inviting spot.
Somewhere along the way each hiker is bestowed a name by another person describing who they are — and sometimes it changes.
Clevel, code named “Salmon” for his work as a fish biologist, added that in Tehachapi and on the trail, “people are ready to help with whatever they can do. It restores your faith in humanity. It's the kindness from strangers.”
Many hikers said that in order to make their goal they were on extended leave from work, or had quit their jobs to hike the trails north through California, Oregon and Washington.
More than eight hikers interviewed said there are five main reasons for their journey— meeting the physical challenge, escaping from daily life, enjoying nature, making strong connections and friends and being in the moment during each day of life.
“It’s the simplicity and being able to help each other and the worries about regular life are gone and we are all going through the same things on the trail,” said Steve Jackson, code named “Oak” for being strong and dependable.
Both Jackson and his wife, Deanna, or “Hypsy Gypsy” for her long braided hair and earrings, have hiked before, but on the Appalachian trail.
Deanna Jackson said, “Every day you are seeing something different. We live much more presently.”
She added, “When you are in the city, many times you don’t say hello, but when you see somebody on the trail you feel comfortable. It’s some spoken understanding.”
Both quit their jobs in administration to hike the trail and are from California's Bay Area.
Clevel added that the bond of facing the same trails and really getting to know a person you meet on the trail may bring you closer to people.
“Sometimes it's a closer bond with friends on the trail than with family back home. You can show your personality. When you are sitting around a fire, you find out about yourself and others,” Clevel said.
Hikers on the trail represent different backgrounds, age groups and physical statures. They also travel from around the world to start from the beginning of the trail, which is the Mexican border. Many men and women choose to hike solo, making friends along the way.
“Its a very nice way for someone not from the states to see all the small towns and it’s very different from the big cities,” said Gustaf Frisk, from Sweden, who was given the trail name “Sunshine” for his smile and positive attitude.
Tehachapi volunteers called the Trail Angels arrange rides for hikers and give them information to make their visit agreeable. Wits End at 115 Mojave St. is a location where hikers can also send packages.
According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association's 2017 annual report, more than 6,000 hiker permits were issued last year. The trail, according to the association's website, also crosses 48 wilderness areas, six national parks, and gives hikers the ability to see "some of the nation’s most breathtaking scenery."