Mt. Baldy in the clouds
I took a zero in Big Bear Lake and definitely needed a day to relax. I’ve learned than unless for a reason, two zeros together is not a good idea. But, feet get very sore after 4-6 days of hard walking, and they just need a rest. Talking to many other hikers young and old, sore feet are a universal phenomenon when doing 15-25 miles a day.
26April -mile 266- mile 286
Today my feet just felt like walking. Even thought I started 2.5 hours later than usual, I was able to get in 20 miles for the day. There was some climbing up into the hills above Big Bear Lake, but then it was a fairly level trail though Ponderosa woods with some snow still beside the trail. About the last five miles was a bit more exposed to the sun, as it went through a burn area. Camp was at the end of that burn area.
I lost Broken Arrow, though I am sure he is right behind me a few miles. Of the 30 some people I’ve seen on the trail today, about half were from Germany or Netherlands. The people on the trail now seem happier, possibly because the trail is weaning out the riff-raff. Because this next stage will be over 100 miles, our packs are quite heavy from food. Worse yet, hiker hunger is starting to hit. The first few days on the trail, I didn’t feel like eating. Now, I have a very weird appetite, and will eat anything. Tonight I had Bombay Potatoes, something I usually don’t like, and they were quite delicious. Strange things happen on the trail. I have been eating like a pig in town, yet I continue to need to snug in my belt and pack straps. Weight loss?
26April – mile 286- mile 308
This was a long hot day, mostly descending a narrow river canyon. The greatest advantage over previous desert days was the recurring shade in the canyons, and the presence of occasional streams. The route ended at a hot springs, which was also frequented by locals, leading to a raucous atmosphere. I should have gone on, but was tired and unsure that close camping accommodations could be found. It was a noisy night. As I learned the next day, there were no good campsites close so made a good decision.
27April- Mile 308- mile 328 (Claghorn Picnic Area)
I barely got any sleep at all, as it was a very noisy night, with lots of headlamps going off and on. I was on the trail before 6 am and made good time all the way. The trail started as a continuation of a steep valley with rushing river below. I then encountered a dam, had to wade across a knee high river, and then the trail went up into the hills, overlooking a large green meadow. At mile 314, there was trail magic, ex-hikers handing out ice cold sodas. I instantly downed two. Eventually the trail encountered another large dam structure with the hiker on the bottom. Gradually, the trail went upwards and a very large lake, Silverwood, became visible. Many speed boats and entertainment boats were on the lake. My decision was to end at a campground on the end of the lake by the trail. I was able to order pizza a a 2 liter root beer. Even that did not totally quench my thirst. It is odd how this breezy environment keeps one perpetually thirsty. So, I’m a bit sore and thinking about an easy day tomorrow, after talking to an elderly couple southbound on the trail.
It’s Sunday, and I thought that I would be a little more relaxed today, so only did 15 miles. It was still a touch strenuous, with a moderate amount of climbing, even though the last few miles were all downhill. It was a beautiful day, and the landscape quite green, considering that I was in desert. I decided to stay at a hotel at Cajun Pass for several reasons. One was because I was feeling unusually dirty, and was getting mild hiking jock rash. The rash happened yesterday so I put some salve on it last night, and by morning, it was better. But, it means one needs to wash their clothes as they start rubbing rough on you. Secondly, the trail to Wrightwood has no certain water sources, 26 miles, so I wished for only one dry night of camping. This will put me into Wrightwood mid-day on Tuesday, and I’ll do a zero there, as well as pick up my Resupply. Thirdly, I’ll be able to camel up, meaning, mildly over-hydrate myself. After a couple days out in the desert and dry winds, it is easy for me to put down two liters of cold drink in a short span of time, and then still feel thirsty and not peeing well. So, fluids are consumed in mass quantities whenever possible. Finally, a hotel lets me get everything recharged up, and make a long call to my most beautiful and wonderful wife. There isn’t an hour that goes by on the trail when I don’t think about how precious she is to me.
I have a new pair of shoes coming. The desert is very hard on shoes and and I have completely worn out the ones I have on now. There are still no blisters but the feet bottoms get very tender by the end of the day. I hobble and people probably wonder about my ability to walk at all. I become clumsy without my hiking poles. Thru-hikers are a very strange bunch!
29April Mile 342-364
The mileage was actually 23 miles and about 6-7000 feet elevation gain. It could have been a horribly painful climb, but it wasn’t, as the temperature was cool and overcast. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow. I started the walk out alone, and about 4 miles in, after escaping the I-15 traffic (it was a traffic jam last night and remained that this morning) and getting by the train tracks, I encountered Megs (Sticks) . We hiked for about 4 hours together and then she needed to make some phone stuff so I shot ahead. The trail crossed the San Andreas fault and then shot up toward Mt Baldy (San Antonio). There were some beautiful sites. The trail climbed relentlessly from Cajun Pass at 3000 ft to over 8000 ft elevation. Toward the top destination of Guffy Campground, I started hitting a lot of snow, which slowed down the pace. Then, it started to hail. It got cold. The hail turned into a freezing rain as I tried to put up the tent, with an added strong wind. The tent went up and I was soon warm, writing this piece. Sticks showed up soon afterward and she got settled in. I’m hoping the weatherman is correct about tomorrow. Hey, this is the desert approaching summer!
30April – mile 364-369 (Wrightwood)
The wind blew hard all night, making it a challenge to sleep. I did stay warm, but it was freezing cold in the morning for getting the tent down. Like yesterday, we had to walk through a lot of snow but were able to complete the six miles to the road by 9am. Guthook claims there should be heavy traffic on the road, yet because of snow damage, the road is not open yet and there was no traffic going either direction. Thankfully a trail angel picked me and another hiker and took us to town, Sticks obtaining a ride from someone else. Wrightwood is super-friendly to PCT hikers and caters to them in the hotels, grocery, hardware store, and restaurants. I aired out my clothes, sleeping bag, tent, and other things, preparing to again hit the trail.
01May- zero day in Wrightwood
Zero days are actually somewhat busy, in that the next segment of the hike needs to be planned. One needs to decide roughly how many days it will take before the next town where one could Resupply, and then how much food to carry. Rough estimates of where to camp each night, so that daily goals could be already thought out are helpful to me, though many would claim that I am over-planning.
There remains the dilemma as to how to deal with the high Sierra and Northern California which has had record snowfalls that don’t seem to be melting too quickly. I am uncertain as to what to do, though some sort of flip-flop is a certainty. This is NOT a good year for a straightforward thru-hike, and I suspect that some of the younger hikers who plan on pushing through are going to get in trouble.
So, the next update will probably happen in Agua Dulce, as I move out of the mountains and snow and down into the Mojave desert.
I remain overwhelmed at the beauty of God’s creation, the diversity and complexity of all there is in His world. It is with great thankfulness to God that He has allowed me to have the strength to delight in His handiwork. Surely all of His creation proclaims His glory.
I am grateful to all who made pledges to Huguenot Heritage for this Hike-a-thon. May the Lord bless you for your thoughtfulness, as it also serves as a great encouragement to me to keep walking!