PCT DAY 18.. April 23rd 20 miles.. Great trail and a beautiful easy hike!
Woke in the morning and signed out of the ‘Snow Bear Lodge’ in the Village section of Big Bear Lake at 8am. Wookie and I had a coffee and bagel at the ‘Coffee and Tea’ place across the road.. then hitched a lift back to the PCT at mile 266 to start hiking by 10.30am!
Gorgeous day.. with the sun shining on the nearby lake as we circumnavigated.. to end up at mile 286 at 6 in the evening!
Dinner and into bed as the sun dropped into the surrounding forest.. a mix of new as well as burnt out old pines! Nil wind and temperature dropping to around 5C .. so should be a great night to sleep and recuperate for tomorrow!
PCT DAY 19.. April 24th 20 miles..
Awoke and started hiking through the gorge towards the natural hot springs downstream! Stopped off at a couple of beautiful spots during the day.. crystal clear springs and shaded vales!
PCT DAY 20.. April 25th 18 easy miles!
Started this morning at 7.30 from the Hot Pools in Deep Creek Canyon and basically followed the canyon until it emptied onto the plain below! Hiked all morning down rugged pathways literally clinging to the canyon walls!
By afternoon we continued through escarpments.. many unfortunately burnt out in years gone by.. but finally emerging into the relative greenery of Silverwood Lake! Set up tent then took a dive in the frigid waters.. cleansing both body and clothes!
Off to sleep on a sandy beach.. listening to the waves lapping the shore.. tomorrow ‘McDonalds’!! YAHOO.. something other than camp food as will be passing a gas station and McDonalds at around mile 350.. (sad I know.. but there isn’t a hiker out here that isn’t dreaming McDonalds right now?!!) Goodnight..
PCT DAY 21.. April 26th 26.5 miles!
Woke this morning to the stunning pinks and purples reflecting the high sirrus cloud in the lake as the sun came up! Left our beach paradise and headed out over the mountains towards Interstate 15.. and the luring McDonalds!! Hiked most of the day with Marvin who had joined Wookie and myself a day earlier. At one stage we even did a hiking sprint.. an hour at over 3 miles per hour.. just over 5 kilometers on uneven mountain terrain!
We arrived at McDonalds on Interstate 15 at 12.30 mid day and settled down with another 11 hungry hikers to burgers.. fries.. bottomless coke and ice cream! Quite the treat after dehydrated camp meals for the last few weeks!
Marvin and I left the Big M at 3pm and climbed the surrounding hills and mountains after passing under the Interstate and finally made camp on the top of a mountain overlooking the distant lights of Anaheim and Los Angeles perhaps 50 kilometers away.. how close we are?! Now at Mile 349.8.. up at 4500 feet!
We covered a staggering 26.5 miles today through pretty rugged terrain.. cresting mountains and crossing valleys.. that’s 47.7 kilometers including the 2 hour break at Big ‘M’!! Very happy with the progress and we were rewarded with spectacular views from tonight’s piece of camping real estate! Tomorrow we continue the climb to 8500 feet and perhaps back into the snow.. planning on taking it slow?!
As the sun went down the chill of the desert set in and as I wrap myself in my sleeping bag.. the wind outside is howling.. threatening to blow both tent and occupant.. (‘myself’!!) back down into the valley far below! Let’s see how strong this thing really is?!! Goodnight all..
(Survived the nights howling gale! Good choice of tent.. Thanks Marmot!)
PCT DAY 22.. April 27th 20 HARD miles!!
Well.. as I remove the warmth of my MEC fleece.. turn it inside out and tuck it into the pocket for my pillow.. hang my socks inside the tent to dry overnight and remove my shirt and pants to air.. all needing a ‘super’ wash.. having had 4 good days of hard use.. I once again wrap myself into my sleeping bag in the comfort of my little home.. happy tô have covered another day’s hike.. albeit dusty.. grubby and smelling less of roses and more like a rubbish tip! Extremely thankful for the kind couple here in Wrightwood who are letting both myself and Marlin make camp in their back yard!
Today’s hike was HARD!! We managed to cover 20 miles but they were miles of slipping and sliding over shale and loose rock.. often taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back.. and often with a precipitous fall of over 1000 feet if a careless step was taken! VERY FRUSTRATING! The first 5 hours were a constant uphill climb into the snow covered mountains! Five hours of continuous switchbacks from 3500 feet this morning.. to over 8500 feet in the afternoon! To make matters even worse.. there was no water for the 20 mile hike so yesterday I loaded up with 6 liters.. (an extra 6 kilograms!) which was both unpleasant and painful on the feet.. back and shoulders!
I know there will be many more such climbs.. but the water will be plentiful so the added load will not be necessary.. making the climb a whole lot easier! We reached the top.. and were again welcomed by the howling gales tunneling up the valleys.. all frigidly cold and most unwelcome.. exacerbating the unpleasantness of a day I’m wholly thankful is over!
Warm in a bed of pine needles and drifting off to sleep I’m hoping tomorrow will be an entirely different sort of hike.. and I have the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy it to the full!
The freezing cold.. the howling wind and the tortuous climb all took its toll today.. but tomorrow is ‘another’ day’! Roll on tomorrow!
PCT DAY 23.. April 28th 23 miles.. 6700 feet!
Left the hospitality of Wrightwood at 8.30 after resupplying at the local store and filling up on Starbucks lattes and pastries! Hitched a lift back to the PCT at mile 266 where we’d left off the day before..
After a 4 mile downhill hike we had the imposing granite mountain of Baden Powel to ascend! We climbed into and above the snow line.. from around 6000 feet to almost 10000 feet in just over 2 hours! But what views!!! The wind that has now been with us for the last few days died away for the most part as we enjoyed the panorama from the peak! Tried calling Mum and Dad.. as well as Kalina and Andy here in the States without luck! I had hoped to share my joy and accomplishment with you all! Perhaps I might have more success in the High Sierra?
From the top we slipped and slid part way down the mountain using crampons and a whippet (a kind of ice axe fitted to the top of a hiking pole!) Once again finally below the snow line we continued on cresting mountains and traversing valleys.. all with that unwelcome biting wind till we found a reasonably sheltered spot for the night!
Settled down in the evening at mile 389.2 to ‘finally’ NIL WIND!! Bitterly cold at 2C but finally that biting wind has subsided and taken itself to some other locale! YAHOO!
PCT DAY 24.. April 29th 23 miles 411.7.. 6600 feet!
??!! Spoke too soon??!! Woke this morning to howling.. bitterly cold winds! In fact Motzart’s tent blew down in the night!! Hauled ourselves out of our tents and warm beds.. to an 80 mile an hour wind and -5C.. (with the windchill factor it was way colder!!)
A really tough and bitterly cold hike.. with morale decreasing and the wind increasing! There was no where to get away from that all encompassing wind that just ate into us all!
Finally when we pulled our sorry hides behind a boulder and brewed some hot chocolate.. Motzart who had been studying his PCT app.. discovered and announced to Marlin and myself that 5 miles down the track.. where we’d cross a road.. there existed a restaurant 1.8 miles down the road!! It was the encouragement we needed and fired us up to a veritable trot downhill to the road.. and within 5 minutes we managed to hitch a lift to ‘Newcomb’s Ranch Restaurant’! An apparently popular weekend getaway for LA’s biker and sports car enthusiasts!
Enjoyed a burger and fries whilst absorbing the suns rays and trying finally to warm up after days of being cold.. this morning being the worst of the worst with those biting winds! We enjoyed a couple of hours soaking up the sun and got talking to a very friendly couple who had also stopped in for lunch with their beautiful labrador Fin!
Now I must mention how very kind and helpful most people are towards PCT hikers as when hitching we have never had to wait more than 10 minutes before some kind soul stops to offer a lift.. and often out of their way! Thank you all.. and in this case thanks to Ethan and his girlfriend who kindly gave us a lift back uphill 1.8 miles to the trail! Super meeting you all!
With full bellies and a much more positive spirit.. we then hiked the remaining 11 miles to a beautiful little spot on another mountain top overlooking the immense desert below! The wind has now finally dissipated and we settled down for a good nights sleep!
PCT DAY 25.. April 30th 19 miles.. 5800 feet.. Beautiful morning!
Slept in late and left our mountain top campsite at 8am.. mainly downhill for the first 7 miles to the Mill Creek Fire Station where we filled up to the max with water in anticipation of the hot.. dry.. barren section ahead!
‘Poodle Dog’ bush!!
At the Fire Station we were told great news.. that the upcoming ‘Sand Fire Closure’ at mile 432 to mile 444 had opened just yesterday.. the alternate route for this closure involved at least an extra 27 mile leg.. mostly on roads! (When one is hiking the PCT at over 2650 miles (4800 kms) adding on miles can be somewhat of a drag on spirits..) and we have already dealt with the extra miles involved with both the ‘Forest Fire Closure’ and the ‘Endangered Species Closure’! (Due to a rare and endangered frog species?!)
After Mill Creek it was an uphill slog in the mid day sun.. and desert conditions.. passing through a minefield of the dreaded ‘Poodle Dog’ bush which made it VERY tough! (Contact with this plant will leave the skin blistered for weeks! I can only hope I managed to avoid it?!) In fact the rest of the day was practically all uphill and very rough going! By the end of the day I was shattered.. and the only high point really were the desert views far below in the valley and getting my poor nephew Alex up and out of bed for a chat (I hadn’t realized it was only 6.30am in New Zealand??!) Thanks Alex for being such a sport and was great chatting to you there in bed.. whilst I was clinging to the side of a mountain here in California! Isn’t technology amazing!!
So we finished the day at mile 430.4 at an unused Campground called Messenger Flats.. no doubt not used and closed due to the ‘Sand Fire Closure’ and only opened again yesterday.. not to the public.. but just to PCT through hikers!! Beautiful.. quiet cool evening and camping with 4 others.. Motzart.. Marlin.. Flyin’ Brian and Quiet?!
PCT DAY 26.. May 1st 24.1 miles.. 2500 feet
Packed up camp and left the mountains at 7.30 hiking down towards Vasquez Rocks and into the valley where the heat of the mid day sun rose above 35C! Consequently we all decided to take a break at KOA (Campgrounds of America) A welcome break from the sun for a couple of hours till 4pm! Staff not particularly friendly and a camp space too expensive so decided to push on and camp out.. though we all badly need a shower and laundry.. that’ll have to wait till Agua Dulce sometime tomorrow! (This was written mid afternoon at KOA!)
Managed to make the 9 miles through tô Água Dulce and a totally different mind set at ‘Hiker Heaven’! Super friendly and very hiker convenient! Thanks to all the ladies that help run this little piece of trail magic!
! CLEAN AT LAST! Had a luxurious shower.. clothes washed and into bed at 10pm! What a great day!