At Walker Pass the PCT crosses the Kern County bus line on California-178.
Most hikers will either spend the night in one of the nearest towns, Ridgecrest and Lake Isabella, or the KOA in Onyx. Some will even push on straight to Kennedy Meadows to complete a 130 mile gap between civilization.
Because of limited busing to Ridgecrest, I elected to take the bus in the opposite direction, further west, to Bakersfield. And I met some great people during the few hours I spent travelling.
The Concrete Worker
The first bus change was in Lake Isabella. Across from the bus stop a concrete worker was working on the foundation for a new bus stop shelter.
This 30 year old concrete worker from Bakersfield, California (pictured below) is one year away from completing his ultrasound technician certification (which he'll tell you is more than just baby pictures).
The Homeless Man
With my camera out, an unassuming man approached me with a loaded garbage bag in hand. Now homeless in Southern California, this man hasn't lost his excitement for photography. He loved developing film back in high school. Though homeless, he remains grateful for the present moment.
Now retired and living in Lake Isabella, this man pulled up to the parking lot across from the bus stop.
He's been known to give thru-hikers a ride from time to time, but today he was riding shotgun with his grandson.
A veteran of both Korean and Vietnam Wars, this man whose name unfortunately escapes me, has traveled the world under dire circumstances.
Last year, for the first time, he travelled to Washington D.C. and saw the Vietnam Memorial first hand.
In his words, "I brought a cloud of tears with me."
Marvin, a PCT hiker with the trail name Maverick, has called the Salt Lake City area home as an elementary school teacher for the last 18 years, but he still finds a way to make it to every single Arizona Wildcats football game. You'll be able to spot him on TV, at the 50 yard line wearing a red, white, and blue viking helmet.
The Changed Man
On the bus to Bakersfield I spent the ride listening to Allen's story.
Allen has spent decades paving asphalt roads in Michigan, California, and other states across the country. He's even been homeless for a spell. And in general has been through some tough times. His life changed after developing his relationship with the Lord and studying the Bible. Now he paves roads for Christ in people's hearts through his music and words.
Outside of the Sequoia Sandwhich Company a man crossing the street asserted that didn't know what I was doing with these trekking poles.
Naturally I was willing to listen.
"The Great Black Ninja", aka "Big Foot", prefers a single large wooden stick.
He's waiting for dental surgery so he can be socially accepted within the context of public speaking.
I assure you, he has plenty of confidence for that.
The Uber Driver
From nearby the Sequoia, Zach, my Uber Driver, picked me up. Motel 6 was the next destination.
Zach moved to Bakersfield from Los Angeles a couple months ago to help his sister who is raising a child.
Soon enough Zach will be back in LA. Perhaps even starting a career in comedy?
PCT Mile 652.