TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KGET) – It’s a 2,650-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and those trekking the thousands of miles are making their way through Kern County.
A bright yellow sign with bold, black letters reading “café” decorates the outside of Kelcy’s Restaurant. The brown wooden building attracts anyone driving (or hiking) by Tehachapi Boulevard hungry for some homestyle American breakfast. Inside hikers are enjoying fluffy eggs and pancakes, washing it down with warm coffee. By far one of the nicest meals these hikers have had after traversing over 500 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We all showed up on different ships,” said Ray Knirs, a hiker from North Carolina. “We are all on the same boat now.”
Knirs is recovering after suffering an injury on the trail. The ceramics teacher decided to embark on the PCT as a way to bounce back to health.
“It has been really fun,” said Kelsie Rodriguez, an Army Veteran from Puerto Rico who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. “I have not had a bad day even when my feet are full of blisters, I’m still hiking.”
Rodriguez has been on the trail since late March and hopes to arrive at the Canadian border by her birthday in September.
“It’s about slowing down and going on nature’s rhythm,” said Paul Stevens, a retired Art Professor from Chico State who first learned about the PCT while flipping the pages of a National Geographic magazine when he was younger.
Rodriguez, Knirs, and Stevens are all hiking the Pacific Crest trail for the first time but they probably wouldn’t be ready to embark on the remaining 2,000 miles if it weren’t for real-life angels, trail angels that they encounter at marker 560 in Tehachapi.
“This is the longest I’ve ever walked,” said Rodriguez. “It’s the most miles I’ve done in my life, I can’t imagine the trails without trail angels, it would be hard.”
Ted Johnson who along with his wife Cheryl has been volunteering as ‘trail angel’ for about 5 years now, every single visitor into their home has been logged in a bright blue journal that resembles the color of their home. They’ve hosted people from many countries and every age.
“I’d have to say that at the beginning it was Cheryl’s idea to do this logbook,” said Johnson. “First entry we picked up someone has a question mark and they were from Austria.”
Johnson points out a sketch in the logbook, it’s their home, drawn by a hiker who they hosted who sketched her entire journey on the PCT.
“It involves giving rides from trailheads, which there are two,” said Johnson.
Eight miles outside of Tehachapi, Nick Altieri, another trail angel, drops off Knirs as he re-starts his hike. While there, a German hiker approaches them in need of a ride to the Mojave post office.
“We can talk up Tehachapi a little bit,” said Altieri. “Some trail angels take snacks or water to the trails.”
An act of love you can only find in Tehachapi as you chase happy trails along the PCT.
“We’ve been together within days of each other for the entire trip,” said Stevens. “I always have friends behind me and ahead of me.”