Highlights: We took it slow once we got to the Saufley’s by taking a zero day. Sadie and Adrian went ahead. Adrian has a deadline based on when his visa would run out, and he had to do roughly 27 miles a day to finish in time. When we left, it was very hot, and we passed by the Vasquez Rocks in the heat of the day. We then started climbing up into the mountains, and had to navigate through two trail alternates: the poodle dog bush alternate, which bypasses some of the trail where poodle dog bush is growing in an old burn area (poodle dog bush is a poisonous plant like poison oak). We also had to avoid the trail closure to protect the yellow legged frog. We wound up walking for some time on Hwy 2. We then climbed up to the top of Baden-Powell Mountain, which is the tallest mountain in this area, around 9,300ft in elevation. We were grateful for a few days of cooler weather. We hitched into Wrightwood, where we quickly grabbed some food and got straight back on the trail with the intention of making it the next day to Cajon Pass, where I’m writing this post!
Day 102: The Saufley’s, 0 miles
October 11th: I woke up exhausted after going to bed late two nights in a row. It had been a fun couple days hanging out with our SOBO friends and staying with Trail Angels, but I was now a tired Dormouse! Adrian and Sadie were ready to do a 27 mile day out, so I said my goodbyes. Dirt Stew and I relaxed in the trailer of the Saufley’s fixing some of our gear, eating food, watching a movie, and calling our parents. We wished the Saufley’s were home for us to meet them, but their son was house-sitting for them while they were out of town. In this section we only found 1 natural water source in nearly 100 miles.
Day 103: The Saufley’s to Mile 436, 18.5 miles
October 12th: We got a late start out of the Saufley’s and stopped by the local bakery to get some pastries. It was immediately too hot out, and we took refuge in the “Interpretive Center” of the Vasquez Rocks, which were on the trail. These rocks were created by the shifting of the tectonic plates on the Andreas Fault. After a break, we kept on and hiked up through a section with no shade. We passed a KOA campground which had water. It seemed like there were going to be very few natural water sources in this section. My hip started hurting at the end of the day, and we camped by a Ranger Station right after it got dark. We weren’t sure if camping was allowed, so we stayed quiet as we set up our tent.
Day 104: Mile 436 to Mile 410.5, 25.5 miles
October 13th: After we packed up in the morning, a ranger stopped by asking us if we were thru-hikers. He had water available, and he asked if we camped there the night before. I said we had, and he told us there were better spots which he made himself. I was glad to hear we weren’t breaking the rules. The heat wave is supposed to break tomorrow, and we looked forward to cooler weather. We headed out, and immediately walked through 2 miles of overgrown trail with poodle dog bush. We decided that we would take the alternate once we hit the dirt road. The dirt road was hot, and construction vehicles were zipping around on this dirt road doing some work nearby.
We followed the road all the way to a Fire Station which also had water available for hikers, and we filled up. A lady there told us there was no natural water in that section. Our water report told us there was a spring coming up. Because I usually trust local knowledge, we decided to take enough water to skip the spring. Several miles later we got to the spring, and there was indeed water. Grrr. We took a liter just in case. We realized at some point in the day that today was our two year wedding anniversary. We shared a snickers in our tent at night to celebrate. 🙂
Day 105: Mile 410.5 to Mile 384, 26.5 miles
October 14th: Today we came across an old Boy Scout’s camp which had a water faucet, and we took 35 miles to make it to Wrightwood. We had to take an alternate to avoid a trail closure due to the endangered yellow legged frog. We walked the road, Hwy 2, which could be a very scary road walk, except that there was only roughly 1 car per half hour. As we walked down the road, we realized that we had the choice between continuing on the road one more mile, or hiking the trail 3 or 4 miles over a 1300ft mountain. Normally there would be no question, obviously we’d hike the trail, not the road. But my hips hurt, and I wanted an easier time into Wrightwood. I probably would have taken the road, but Dirt Stew said “What are we doing this for? To walk on an asphalt road, or to hike in the mountains?” I hated the PCT for doing this to me. I love hiking, and I had the chance to take a short-cut and save 3 miles and 1300ft elevation gain, yet skip a hike. It would be like a hike up San Bruno Mountain. “I would feel like such a bum” Dirt Stew said, convincingly. So, we hiked the trail. I was angry with the trail for making me realize that I had forgotten why we were hiking. My focus every day had been to just put one foot in front of the other to make it to Mexico without my legs falling off, and what for? If I wasn’t going to enjoy the hike, it’s not worth it. I’m hiking for my own pleasure, nobody is forcing me to do this. As we hiked up to the top of the mountain, we took a break and looked out at the view. “Isn’t it beautiful up here?” Dirt Stew asked me. Of course he was right. It was.
Day 106: Mile 384 to Mile 363.5, 20.5 miles
October 15th: The sunrise was unbelievable. We climbed up Baden-Powell mountain, the tallest mountain in the area, and looked down at the fog rolling out below us in the valley. I imagined the clouds as a big bed that I was going to fall asleep in.
On the way up to the top, there was a tree which had a sign saying it was dedicated to some Boy Scout person, but more importantly, the tree was estimated to be 1500 years old!
We descended one more time back to Hwy 2. I was about to look at our map for the options of walking into Wrightwood, as we had only seen one car per half hour at best on this road, so hitchhiking would be tough. I was about to pull out our maps when a car came past and I quickly put out my thumb. The car stopped and we got a ride into Wrightwood. Everyone in Wrightwood was very friendly and knew about the Pacific Crest trail. “Aren’t you guys a bit late?” People kept asking us. “Late and walking in the wrong direction” Dirt Stew would reply. We went to Grizzly Cafe and ordered their special for the day, which was meat lasagna. We had hoped to get new socks in the mail, but when none were waiting for us, we bought a new pair at the Hardware Store. Someone offered us a ride out, and we were very grateful to get back to the trail quickly so as to hike a few more miles today to make it to Cajon Pass tomorrow and spend the night in a hotel. As we started hiking again, I felt completely sick. I had more than gorged myself on the lasagna, and now I felt like a pregnant penguine waddling up the trail. Pepto-bismol was the only solution. Needless to day, I did not feel like having dinner that evening. Tomorrow, Cajon Pass!