MOJAVE – The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is one of country’s major hiking trails and attracts hikers from all over the world.
The PCT begins near Campo, a small town near the Mexican border, and winds 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada, taking hikers into some incredibly wild and scenic places. In southern California, it crosses Interstate 15 where vistas from the mountains include the Los Angeles Basin and Mojave Desert.
The trail continues north across the San Andreas Fault Zone and western arm of the Mojave Desert. It climbs into the Tehachapi Mountains, where it crosses Highway 58 and enters the Sierra Nevada range.
And, this is where Mojave resident, Ted Hodgkinson, and his volunteers come in. So-called “trail angels” generously provide volunteer assistance to hikers who request rides to local motels for the opportunity to rest.
Hodgkinson, Membership Chairman, Mojave Chamber of Commerce, was contacted in 2012 by Tehachapi volunteers and asked to put together a team that would become involved with the program beginning in the spring of 2013.
“We were thrilled to become participants,” said Hodgkinson, “but we didn’t exactly know what to expect.”
Hodgkinson tapped Doug Clipperton, President of the Mojave Chamber, and Bill Deaver, Vice President, to be part of his network. They put up signposts for hikers at two pick-up locations—the first at the intersection of Oak Creek and Willow Springs roads and the second at the intersection of Highway 58 and Cameron Highway.
On April 27, Hodgkinson received his first call from a hiker who had already been on the trail for a month. He learned that hikers routinely give themselves trail names when “Lightning Rod,” a recent graduate of Pacific University in Oregon, recorded his first entry in Hodgkinson’s new logbook.
Hikers who also signed Hodgkinson’s log included Hooligan from Dublin Ireland, Cat Jenks from Boston, Shark-bite from Oregon, U-turn, and Carrot.
Over the next few months, hikers continued to arrive in Mojave, mostly in pairs and small groups. Calls came anytime during the day, said Hodgkinson. “We loved it because the hikers had such interesting personalities and unique reasons for tackling this adventure.
“I met hikers from Germany, Japan, and Great Britain,” reported Hodgkinson. “Some had hiked major trails all over the world. For others, this was their first attempt.” He also reported that he met retirees who were in great shape, homemakers, and students, as well as doctors and lawyers.
When there was time, Hodgkinson gave tours of Mojave and explained the current revitalization efforts underway for the downtown area. Most hikers were aware of the amazing aerospace achievements happening at the Mojave Air and Space Port and were awed by the number of wind farms.
Hodgkinson said he plans to volunteer as a trail angel again in 2014. “Next year I’ll know what to expect and we’ll be even more organized. Keeping the log was a great learning experience.” Anyone interested in volunteering to become a Mojave Trail Angel can obtain further information at 661.824.2738.
In 1968 the U.S. Congress designated the PCT as one of the first National Scenic Trails which, in California, includes 179,522 acres. The PCT Association leverages donations to purchase private parcels that will allow the transfer of lands to public ownership so the trail can be cohesively and permanently protected.