May 12 – Miles 369-384 (15 miles)
May 13 – Miles 384-406 (22 miles)
May 14 – Miles 406-429 (23 miles)
May 15 – Miles 429-452 (23 miles)
May 16 – Miles 452-454 ( 2 miles)
May 12th started with a great final breakfast with Mama and Papa Fox in Wrightwood. If you are hiking the PCT and have yet to spend time in Wrightwood, you must have a Steve-O breakfast burrito from the bakery. Delicious!! I was kicking myself for not taking an extra one for the hike…was craving them all day.
We hitched to the trail – thank you Teresa for picking us up and for taking such a keen interest in our hike! – and Mom and Dad met us there. They hiked down the trail with us for a bit, and Dad even carried my pack so he could get a feel for this life we are currently living. We shared some Mike’s Hard Lemonade trail side, soaking in the view and delaying the goodbyes. They sent us off with some Frey-like “Woo-hoo’s” and we resumed our hiking.
The main event of the day was summiting Mount Baden Powell, which was a 3000 foot ascent. The view was breathtaking, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The ascent was fairly gradual, so we kept the pace nice and steady (T-Fox rocked it in 1hr 45 min – Lorax)
May 13th was an adventure all of its own. The trail meandered up and down and up and down all day. I was really having a rough day. Sometimes I’m not feeling it, and today was one of those days.
And. The. Wind. Was. Relentless.
Those ridge walks are very exposed, and there were some serious gusts…T-Fox felt like she was going to blow off that friggin mountain! It was nuts. We also managed to take a wrong turn, which led us to the very summit of Mount Williamson – a mere 1 mile detour. We made it to the top, and stood there, huffing and puffing, and thinking, “so where’s the trail?” We were literally standing on a peak, with nowhere to go but back the way we went. Once we realized we were WAY off course, I put my big-girl panties on and scurried back down to less windy grounds.
Later that day – in much better spirits I may add – we came across a water tap outside a ranger station that was flowing water at the perfect temperature for a shower. So we did what is only logical when you are a greasy thru-hiker, which is try to be a less greasy thru-hiker! It was amazing. We get so salty in the desert, and a shower does wonders. I am also starting to experience chaffing for the first time, and rinsing the salt off goes a long way.
We found a great place to camp in the pines that night, where we enjoyed apple cider and hot chocolate. I slept awesome…my sleeping pad is starting to feel as glorious as a pillow top mattress. Heavenly…
May 15th was all about Poodle Dog Bush, and that stuff is nasty! Poodle Dog Bush grows in recent fire areas, and there was a stretch of trail ( roughly 40 miles) that had a fire in 2009. The bush is an opportunist, and it grows like crazy. It was everywhere. It smells like potent skunk mixed with marijuana, and apparently it has sent several hikers to the hospital with severe rashes. Overall, it’s pretty nasty stuff.
In the beginning of the Poodle Dog dodging madness, we sort of enjoyed the challenge. We weaved around the scoundrels, egging each other on to take the “more challenging route.” Lorax was even rating the sections like ski runs, with “Double Black Diamond” as definite contamination.
But at some point, it wasn’t fun anymore. We’d had enough, and it was getting so thick! The stench was even making me nauseous as it mixed with the thick afternoon heat. I was so exhausted by the constant dodging and trail monitoring, that I gave up on making it to camp two miles shy, and we just set up camp off the trail.
May 15th was one of the hottest days we’ve hiked. It was sweltering! Lorax was so kind as to swap hats with me for a bit so I could experience a hat that breathes. When we got to the KOA about 15 miles in, we decided to just stay there that night. The campground was fully equipped with a pool, food, and showers. We spent the afternoon being lazy and hanging out with other hikers.
Now this is going to make us sound cheap, and that’s probably a fair assessment…but we actually setup camp a few yards down the PCT trail, because we didn’t want to spend $20 for the site. $20 from a flat piece of land to camp on?! But we could get that free just off the trail! So after showering and purchasing lots of delicious food, we pitched our tent outside the campground. Just when we were about to hit the hay, a local man informed us that there are problem bears and cougars that are known to prowl the area, and that he WOULD NOT camp where we are.
Not wanting to take the chance, or pay the $20 to camp…we decided to press on. So we packed up our tent, and we’re back on the trail by 8:45 pm. Keep in mind that T-Fox is usually asleep by 8 or 8:30.
A couple, named Short Step and Too Close, came with us. We had a great night walk with them. The moon was full, the temperature was perfect, and the company was great. We all had a surprising amount of energy, and we ended up hiking another 8 miles. When we reached the camp at Valesquez Rocks, it was close to midnight. We groggily tossed our sleeping pads on the ground and cowboy camped.
Which brings us today! We did a whopping 2 miles to make it to the incredible Hiker Heaven paradise at the Saufley’s! The Saufley’s are trail angels who run an incredible operation for us hikers. They live on a ranch with horses and dogs…I’m in heaven!