It’s been a long and crazy last week or so. I ended up zero’ing way more than I intended and finally got back on the trail on Thursday.
It felt good to be back on track, expelling energy and hiking miles. I started back at the Cajon Pass and hiked from there about 8 miles in, camping in the crevice of a switchback that was actually quite nice. It could have easily accommodated 3 tents, yet it was not listed on Guthooks.
The following day I returned to my favorite style of hiking. I woke at 4:45am, packed up my things and headed up the trail. From here the hike gained about 5,000 feet of elevation as the trail came closer to Wrightwood. The last time I did a big climb like that it ended in me being exhausted. Since it was a 27 mile dry stretch I didn’t want to push myself too hard and just aimed to get close to the town so I could resupply the next day.
As I climbed up the trail views of the Cajon Pass were visible. The clouds covered the pass below me and the sky was several shades of orange and red as the sun peeked out. I stopped several times to take photos and videos of the amazing sunrise, probably my favorite on trail so far.
The Cajon Pass from several hundred feet above.
The Cajon Pass from several hundred feet above.
While I was stopped taking pictures I met another hiker named Mike. We stopped to talk for a second and we ended up hiking together for the rest of the day. We gained all 5,000 feet of elevation and I did a total of 20.4 miles. It amazed me that I did nearly 20 miles of all uphill hiking in one day. I guess my trail legs really were starting to form.
Ethan met me in town after resupplying and we grabbed dinner at Grizzlie’s Cafe in Wrightwood. The food was amazing and the malt was even better. Ethan bought some wood and Mike ended up camping with us at a campground a few miles off the trail. We stayed up far past hiker midnight and had fun talking next to the warm fire.
When we awoke the following day we took our time getting back to the trail. We packed up camp and Ethan brought us back to the trailhead at Inspiration Point, where we had gotten to town from the night before. We hugged and said our goodbyes and soon Mike and I were back on the trail.
I felt great. Amazing, even. I had an amazing nights sleep and was excited to summit Mount Baden-Powell for the second time this year. I wondered if it would be easier or just as hard as when I had hiked it out of shape but without a 30lb pack on my back.
We ate breakfast at Vincent Gap and headed up the many upcoming switchbacks. For the most part this part of the trail rises steadily up the mountain but there are some steep inclines. Switchback after switchback we hiked onward.
The parking lot at Vincent Gap was packed full and the day hikers swarmed all around. Nearly every time we would pass a group of people they would ask if we were hiking the PCT. I don’t know if it’s our stench or the giant packs that gave it away.
I was definitely able to hike much further without needing a break this time around but the strain on my legs was incredible. After doing 5,000 feet of elevation gain the day before the last thing my body wanted to do was go uphill even more.
We passed Lamel spring and decided that we had enough water to make it to Little Jimmy Spring further up the trail. The breaks we took were short and simply for water. My legs began to get tired but I trudged on.
Finally I knew we were almost at the peak. Parts of the hike that had made me nervous before were now just a walk in the park. I made it to the peak, snapped another photo with the flag and sign and then parked my pack on the peak not far away and laid down. It was warmer than I expected it to be but the casual breeze made it chilly enough to want my puffy.
Goofy summit smiles.
Weezer, Joe and Mike began making lunch on the peak but my body just did not feel right. The last stretch of the climb to the peak really wore me out and I simply needed more water and electrolytes. I drank another 20oz of Propel and found myself in much better shape. Pulling out my tortillas, I added tuna, Cholula, and cheese and gobbled them down.
The day hikers and weekend warriors were amazed by us and came to talk to us frequently. One even asked to take our picture. I think it’s as close to being famous as I’ll ever be. After Yogi’ing some fruit from them we made our way back down to the PCT junction and towards Little Jimmy Spring and Trail Camp.
It was 5.8 miles of mostly downhill with an occasional climb. The weather was pleasant and there was barely a breeze in the sky. You could see clouds covering the inland empire and moving our way and I wondered if that meant rain.
Mike and I made it to Little Jimmy by 4pm, hiking a total of about 14.5 miles of the trail not including the spur to the summit of Baden-Powell. We set up camp and then headed down to the spring to get water and clean up some of our clothes that had been stiffened by the salts that constantly get sweat out.
Weezer, Joe, and eventually Carolina joined us as we camped atop Little Jimmy Campground. The bottom part of the camp was densely packed with weekend warriors and we wanted something a little more secluded.
Having camped here before I knew the perfect spot. We all enjoyed dinner together as well as lots of laughter. These guys are really quite a lot of fun to be around.
It’s about 45 minutes past hiker midnight and the temperature is steadily dropping. I have been in my sleeping bag for about 2 hours now and am finally getting ready to go to sleep. There are slight winds and I pray to the PCT God’s that they don’t pick up any more. It has been an amazing last two days and I’m really excited for what’s to come next.