Thursday 16th May 2019 – Day 23 Mile 427.0 to Hiker Heaven Agua Dulce Mile 454.5 (27.5miles/44.55km)

Not a good night at all. The wind had been blowing pretty savagely and the rain started around 3am; gusting wind combined with the rain started to come up and over the inner of my tent and I didn’t wake and notice it for a few hours. So I had a bit of water in the tent and the sleeping bag was a tad wet as well, it was really not a good start to the day.

I waited for dawn to emerge and packed everything up before exiting the tent into the horizontal rain, I just rolled the tent up totally wet and put it on top of the pack. I started walking at 6am and the conditions were very unpleasant to say the least. If I was below the ridge line it wasn’t too bad, but when in the exposed side or on the ridge itself it was brutal. There was a couple of sections where I actually struggled to go forward due to the wind!

After a few hours I reached the rangers station and slowly started to descend into the valley on the protected side of the range. The lower I dropped the more the rain disappeared and the sun came out. By Mattox Canyon Creek I had stripped back down to the normal wear and was drying out slowly. Upon reaching the trail head car park at Acton I ran into some trail magic so I stopped here for a bit to dry out the tent and a rain jacket a little. I was still getting light rain storms coming through though.

I walked down to the Acton KOA (caravan park) and got a few bits to eat before heading down the PCT once more. At the railway line there is a small monument commemorating thd final linking of the PCT in 1993, it would be easy to miss.

The trail headed up and across the range then through the Vasquez Rocks area before finally waking the road into Agua Dulce. I stopped at the supermarket before heading up the road to Hiker Heaven, two of us were lucky to get a lift about 2/3 of the way by a gentleman in a John Deere buggy.

So I set up camp and set out everything to fully dry, but I was keeping an eye of the rain clouds around even though the rain was supposed to have gone. It eventually started spitting a little and I threw everything in the tent and took refuge on the veranda. Then it started to bucket down for nearly an hour, some tents were flooded underneath.

After it finally stopped I had a shower and caught a lift into town with about 10 others and had Mexican for dinner, the only issue was I had to walk the 1.5 miles back home. I need to grab some resupply food in the morning before heading onwards tomorrow.

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Wednesday 15th May 2019 – Day 22 Camp Glenwood Mile 400.6 to Mile 427.0 26.4miles/42.7km)

So late last evening an older guy arrived and was up the top of the campground for a while before coming down to the bottom landing to set his tent up right in amongst the other three already there. He introduced himself as ‘Nomadic Bear’, a jovial enough fellow. The wind combined with the sun disappearing for the night drove the temperature down pretty quickly and everyone was off to bed. Well the bear wasn’t asleep five minutes and he was snoring his head off like some construction equipment. So after enduring this all night when he pooped his head out of the tent, I suggested a trail name change to ‘Nomadic Snorer’. At least we got an apology; but I wish he would consider others and stay further away from others where possible like was the case last night.

Fast forward to the first water fill up site where most of the hikers from the top landing that cowboy camped were having a break and filling up with the steam water. The topic of conversation was none other than the snorer! It seems they had experienced it before and had all convinced him not to camp up the top for various other reasons in order to save themselves from another onslaught.

The trail finally left the Angeles Crest Way after about three miles and headed off to the north down a valley before coming close to Sulphur Spring and then climbing back out of the valley once more. Up on the flanks of Pacifico Mountain (2165m) we finally had views across the valley and some mobile reception once more.

The trail started a slow descent from these heights towards the valley where Mill Creek Fire Station. We had lunch up high, but unfortunately couldn’t escape the wind or the sun due exposed nature of the landscape. All of this area has been burnt out and just about no trees of decent size have survived. The Poodle Dog Bush is pretty common in these burnt areas and I was very careful to stay away from it due to the nasty effects it causes.

I was texting Janine on the descent as she was due to get up shortly at this time, I was intending to call at the Fire Station, but it turned out we had no phone reception there. Evan needed to make some calls pertaining to matters back home as well. I left Evan here as I wanted to get up high on the next section quickly to catch Will before school. I discussed with Evan my plan to get last water at approximately 6 miles ahead and to camp at 8 miles ahead (Mile 407).

The last section of the trail was once again meandering around the sides of the hills before I arrived at the saddle and picked up a windy tent site for the night. It’s not really cold (15C), but the wind chill makes it pretty darn unpleasant. I’ve eaten dinner and jumped into the tent to escape it by 7:30pm.

Tuesday 14th May 2019 – Day 21 Mount Burnham (2740m) Mile 379.1 to Camp Glenwood Mile 400.6 (21.5miles/34.83km)

A very windy night combined with the lack of ground flatness had me only able to sleep on one side otherwise I found I kept migrating off the air mattress one wiggle at a time. I was glad to get up finally and get started on the morning routine of coffee and porridge whilst dismantling the campsite.

Evan was having a sleep in and I couldn’t get a response no matter what I tried (ear plugs). Eventually he surfaced and was a bit surprised at the time. I used the mobile reception nearby to post up the blog and pictures from yesterday whilst I waited for Evan.

The going down wasn’t too bad and a lot of the trail was on the ridge or not too badly snow covered. The day seemed to be going very slowly and we eventually reached the Little Jimmy Spring and the Angeles Crest Highway shortly thereafter. We had a short break here before pushing up the next section which climbed quite high and then dropped straight back to the highway. While we were sitting here many hikers came past as they had decided to skip the PCT sections that climb away from the highway only to return to it once more.

The valley of Little Rock Creek was beautiful and I had a dip with clothes and all just to freshen up a bit seeing the day was quite pleasant and I was certain that I would dry sufficiently before it cooled down.

The trail went past Cooper Canyon Camp which looked very nice before climbing back up to the highway once more. It crossed it a few more times and a bit further on I pulled up stumps at Camp Glenwood. It’s a private camp building (locked) with a toilet, piped water and quite a few flat landings/tent sites. Quite a few are here tonight and many are cowboy camping (no tent) and trusting that it won’t rain. I have done the diary and eaten dinner and I’m in bed at 8pm, it’s cool and windy outside and it’s the place to be.

Monday 13th May 2019 – Day 20 Wrightwood Mile 369.3 to Mount Burnham (2740m) Mile 379.1 (9.8miles/15.87km)

So I got to sleep on the couch last night! No complaints from me about that, it was one of the best I’ve ever slept on and it was long enough for me to actually lie in without needing to have my feet up on the arm rest. I had a great sleep and nobody really started moving about until nearly 8am which meant I stayed put on the comfy couch.

It was a very laid back morning as Curt was still a packing onwards supply box to Kennedy Meadows South (the start of the Sierra’s) as well as readying himself for the Cajon Pass to Wrightwood Section that he is yet to do. Bob was pretty well ready to head off as well, but we all sort of just sat around. We went off to the Post Office as Evan had a good package to collect and Curt had the package to send.

It was decided to go out for lunch and Evan and I said our goodbyes to Curt, Bob and Laura at the afterwards as they dropped us off at the supermarket. I really enjoyed their company and the conversations we had.

So after a quick resupply to get enough food to get us through to Agua Dulce we removed all the excess packaging and repacked it all into our packs and then stood on the road for a hitch. Once again the first car pulled up and an older gentleman took us out to the Inspiration Point Pass even though he wasn’t going there; after dropping us off he promptly headed back into town.

So we finally started walking closer to 2pm and slowly worked our way Vincent Gap at the base of Mt Baden Powell. I say slowly as we still had full stomachs from the hot sandwiches and chips we had consumed earlier.

At the gap the true climb started in earnest, it was fine up to the spring about 1.4 miles in. There were about 6 tents scattered in dubious far from level sites around this area from hikers not keen to summit at the later end of the day. Shortly after this point, the trail disappeared under snow and the footsteps went straight up across the snow for the summit. It was reasonably steep and the snow was firm but slippery in a few places. We continued on slowly making ground and getting closer to the top without micros spikes being fitted.

Eventually we broke free of the snow and were on the bald round summit of Mt Baden Powell. A few photos and not long after we started working our way down looking for campsites for the night.

The decent skirts off following ridge lines on another route down and unfortunately the trail traverses many of the snow covered north facing slopes which necessitates staying on the ridge up above the snow to make easy going.

We hadn’t gone far at all to the summit of Mount Burnham when we found a couple of average sites that would do for the night and set up camp around 6pm. It got cold and windy not long after this and it was a pretty quick dinner and retire to the tent and sleeping bag for the night. Ironically we couldn’t get mobile reception from the tent but we could about 20m around the hill when we could see down into Wrightwood.

Sunday 12th May 2019 – Day 19 Mile 351.9 to Wrightwood Mile 369.3 (17.4miles/28.2km)

Sunday 12th May 2019 – Day 19 Mile 351.9 to Wrightwood Mile 369.3 (17.4miles/28.2km)

I stayed in bed a little longer this morning and caught up fully on the blog and published it, I was a day behind and I loathe to get any further behind as it’s too much work to catch up on.

The beautiful campsite delivered this morning as well with a light breeze and sun hitting it early to dry out the mild condensation. I was impressed that the interstate far below had actually eased off on the flow volumes since it was a Sunday morning.

Once Evan and I were fed and all packed up we began the slow meandering uphill section once more. The climb continued for approximately another 10 miles from the campsite and I was sick of climbing and welcomed a change. It wasn’t overly steep though, but the sad part is it worked so hard to get right near the top of Wright Mountain (2587m) and then the trail skirts around the back side and you don’t even get the views for your effort or the satisfaction of the summit.

There was a great picnic area on a saddle near the top and the steep Acorn Trail descends straight down to Wrightwood from there. We had lunch here, but continued on past a rather large ski field complex until we hit the major road at Inspiration Point. There is a large parking bay here and views down the valley. Once again we got the first hitch that we tried for down into the Wrightwood township in the valley.

Evan had arranged to stay at Kurt’s place for the night as he lives in town here. Kurt had punched on ahead from Big Bear in front of Evan to get home and meet his parents Bob and Laura that were flying in from Ohio. Bob is going to walk some sections with his son on the PCT.

The afternoon was spent relaxing and having a shower and washing the clothes and talking. I was graciously offered the couch for the night and was very thankful for the hospitality. We went out to dinner at a bar type establishment and I had a burger of sorts and some chips. After this we went onto a local brewery and called it a a night after that.

Wrightwood is a pretty laid back town that really swells up in the winter snow skiing months with people traveling into town to ski for the day. It was hard to believe that up to five miles of traffic can jam the road into and through town at its worst.

Saturday 11th May 2019 – Day 18 Silverwood Lake 326.3 to Mile 351.9 (25.6 miles/41.4km)

So I went to sleep on my air mattress with the ground sheet beneath it on the ground beside the table quite comfortably, eventually it started raining once more in the early hours and I was getting drip splashes up on me, so I did the only sensible thing and moved onto the table top. I slept quite well from then onwards and didn’t get up early due the persistent rain. Having mobile service I checked and it stated the rain should be gone by 7am so I had the luxury to wait it out prior to getting up.

The trail climbed up and away from the dam prior to dropping into another valley, it was in here I caught up with Evan and it seems he missed the side track to where I stayed and he camped about 2 miles further along.

Eventually the trail reached the head of that valley and it overlooked the Interstate 15 and the railway tracks that run up and down Cajon Pass. The sheer volume of traffic and rail still astounds me. There is three separate tracks going up and down the pass and they had transports with up to seven traction engines and I’ve no idea how long. Most of the shipping containers are stacked double height as well.

So we finally get down to the interstate and the destination of the day is McDonalds which is just off trail. We managed to grab a table inside and I ended up consuming two sausage and egg McMuffins, three hash browns, multiple soft drink refills, medium chips and a McFlurry before resting. After a while we refilled our water bottles and slowly walked away. Many of the other hikers present had stayed a night in the hotel nearby as well.

About 5 miles further along there was a campsite on the valley floor that looked quite nice, Evan wanted to push on a bit further though to lessen the days walk into Wrightwood tomorrow so was keen to push on for a bit. It was here I met another fellow Australian Perry and his friend Roxy and if turns out he still calls Dookie home which is where my mums side if the family are from.

So we climbed up away from the valley floor hoping to eek out a small campsite for the night even though Guthooks showed there was none, we did however find another’s comments that put us onto a winner. Great views overlooking the never ending stream of cars and trains going from LA to Vegas. Perry and Roxy eventually turned up near dark and were glad when we called them over to a spot to pitch their tent for the night. We all ended up cooking and chatting over dinner.

Friday 10th May 2019 – Day 17 Holcomb Crossing Camp 294.0 to Silverwood Lake 326.3 (32.3miles/52.3km)

A warm night that had me anticipating the rain that was sure to follow, it finally started raining around 5am and had a reasonably heavy patch before easing up to a misting type of rain that hung around. So it was packing up dry tent and the wet outer shell separately once more.

I left camp wearing my rain jacket and rain pants as every bit of foliage beside the trail is water soaked and it all drops straight onto your dry clothes the moment you touch them. A bit further along this trail the foliage has been cleared back and this isn’t an issue.

The trail climbed up and away from Holcomb Creek before dropping back to the confluence of Holcomb Creek and the Mojave River. There was a bridge here and it gave nice views of the water below.

From this point on, the trail pretty well followed the Mojave River slowly climbing up and down around the steep banks on a benched track. This continued and eventually it arrived at the hot springs which is a series of spa bath sized pools of natural hot springs. I stuck my hand in, but due to the crappy drizzling weather I pushed on. Lunch was a very short affair in a side gorge where I was sheltered from the rain, there was no lying down and relaxing in the sun for a spell today.

I bumped back into Evan around here and we stayed in proximity for most of the afternoon afterwards.

Eventually the trail arrived at the Mojave Forks Dam, it is a serous flood mitigation structure that had quite a high wall and spillway. The North Fork Mojave River and the Mojave River both join here and standard flow goes through a large pipe at the base of the wall, the dam will bank up any huge peak flows and help prevent downstream flooding. What I recall most about this dam is always seeing other people’s blogs with pictures of people hiding in the shade against the spillway wall to get out of the intense heat and sunlight, yet here we were wishing the sun would come out and the rain disappear.

After the dam and a wet foot crossing the trail set off cross country meandering around foothills slowly towards Silverwood Lake. There wasn’t many campsites along here and we pressed on a fair bit further with the to aim to get to a picnic area on the lake shore ahead. I eventually made it to the Chamise boat in site on Silverwood Lake and there was also Pidgeon and another guy I hadn’t seen before. There were about six separate shelters with concrete table and chairs under each. I colonised one of these full well knowing it was going to rain again tonight. I had a good family conversation before calling it a night after my big day of 52km walking.