Thursday, June 5, 2014

7 PCT - Wrightwood to Hiker Heaven

Before I left Bear With Us, I had to load up on as many veggies as possible. I ate more than half of this salad over 3 days.


Tonight has officially been 2 weeks since I arrived at Bear With Us in Wrightwood. I was only planning on doing a few days of rest. It's funny how much I learned about myself, my stubbornness and when to admit when I've been defeated. I can walk, run, hop and skip on my feet now.. Pain level between 1-2 vs when I arrived with a pain of 8-9 on a scale of 10. It was an extremely hard way to learn how to listen to my body, but it has certainly paid off.


I made it my projected 14 miles today. I climbed 9,000ft. It took work, but not bad. There are 3 big detours on my 4-5 day hike to Hiker Heaven and the first one is tomorrow. It's the easiest of the 3, only a 2.7 mile road walk to protect the habitat of the Yellow-legged Frog. This is the old detour of past years. This year there was an option to take a 20.5 miler that followed near the PCT. I'm glad I chose the road walk. 

 Views from the summit of Baden Powell

There were a lot of down dead trees.

Learned a few things today after leaving Little Jimmy Campground. If you are going to go the wrong way, make sure you climb a mountain! Ooooops... This was a pleasant lesson to read the map better. Windy Springs and Windy Gap are different places. However my, off PCT, adventure was under 4 miles roundtrip. Not sure the purpose of the stone house up there, but the views were great! The summit and view are much better than Baden Powell. I had planned to rest and journal later in the day, but I couldn't pass this up! This is the view on the top of Mount Islip.

Also learning nearly everything on my own is extremely rewarding at times and crippling at others. I forgot how hard it is to learn as you go. It forces me to practice to forgive myself more, which is good.. I am my harshest critic. Sometimes I crave an answer genie out here... But most times, I just figure it out on my own.. I got to sign a book up here and pee with a fabulous view - Mount Islip 8:39am


Met Jessie, Vincent and Sean at the picnic area before my 2.7 mile roadwalk detour. They had never heard of the PCT and were flat out stunned when I told them what I was doing. They gave me some water which was very appreciated before a road walk with full exposure. 

At the end of the road walk, I walked through a camp ground. It was the weekend and the place was packed. It was cool to see all the people camping with their car camping luxuries. The best part was at the end of the grounds where there was a fresh water faucet. I drank water till I couldn't drink anymore and filled up the bottles I needed. I did my sock laundry here as well. Sometimes you have to stop and appreciate the butterflies...

This spring was just outside of Buckhorn Campground on my way back to the PCT. Despite the great flow, the mosquitos were buzzing me away. I gambled to find better water at the bustling Campground and did.
These are a few pictures on my way to camp

With my off trail ascent of Mount Islip, I didn't reach my mileage goal. I also didn't want to push my feet too hard after just healing them. I would be 5 miles behind schedule, but that would be fine. When I walked into camp there were 2 guys throwing a Frisbee on one end and kids building a fire on the other. I played some frisbee and thought to camp in the shade by these guys. They told me they would be up late. I try to be in bed by 8:45pm so I made camp by the kids. It was there first "backpacking" trip. They built a great fire and shared marshmallows. Their parents had extra vegan chili and steamed broccoli. It was a real treat to eat healthy food, while comforted by a fire. It was pretty buggy out so I set up my bivy. I fell asleep looking at the fire and listening to a book on tape. I slept great!

Merica and Clever are 2 hikers on the left that also stayed with us. They are a fun pair and been hanging out with them a lot at Hiker Heaven

The morning was brisk. The boys relit the fire and I enjoyed some tea and Pop Tarts before hitting the trail. My original goal was to get to Camp Glenwood. There was good shade and water here. It was also mile 400.89!!!!


Found a new hiking buddy named First Track. I get along with him well and our pace average is on point. He is faster downhill and I'm quicker on the ups. I've been enjoying a companion. Today I was allowed to sleep in and was up at 5:45am. I'm getting better! The theme of the last few days has been Poodle Poodle Poodle Dog Bush. It's nerve racking stuff when you are taught that one brush up can ruin your trip! Needless to say, those sections were scary.

This was my first run in with encroaching Poodle Dog Bush on the trail. It got my heart racing. When it had subsided a bit there was wonderful Trail Magic

I had a Coke and that Gatorade 

I haven't caught up to Mac yet

These signs were everywhere. Why weren't there any Warnings about Poodle Dog Bush???? I didn't understand, does everyone know what Poodle Dog Bush is?? Supposively it takes 3-5 days to show up and can irritate for a month. It can hide in other green plants and low on the trail, waiting for the chance to sting you. I barely missed this guy below.

The second detour was specifically for Poodle Dog Bush. I had read some reports that the Bush was manageable, but hard to avoid in the section ahead. A PCT ALT sign blindsided me and made me question my route. I stuck to my pre decided plan and ended up intensely avoiding Poodle Dog. It was the most focused and fearful I have been on the trail. I've been told that the symptoms are similar to Poison Oak. It would be a game changer.  I took the proper precautions and so far have seen no signs of outbreak.

Lounging Lizard

At KOA campground now. It was $10 per person but has a jacuzzi, pool and showers. I only showered and the WiFi was slow. Hiker Heaven is only 10 miles away. Looking forward to getting things done there. 

The PCT is usually only open to horses and people. It is rare when it is open to all. I had to road walk for a while to get to camp. It was a windy dirt road going up and down. Poodle Dog Bush would still try for the sneak attack. There were a few Ant lines going across the road. Guess the road wasn't travelled too often.

There was another long road walk on the way to the KOA Kamp Grounds. The miles were marked on the half mile to 6. I didn't like being reminded how far I was going.. But you will get to see how the scenery changes

Look that Poodle Dog killed that tree!!

I call this the E tree for Eric
I love these Yuccas
Poodle Dog looking pretty

They were moving and building new electric wire towers. It was fun watching the helicopters do work. We ate a snack here

(Above)Top of Mount Gleason (Below) Haunted Poodle Dog tunnel

It was a dance to get around the Poodle Dog sometimes. I called it the Poodle Dog Shuffle. It also reminded me of playing a big stakes game Operation. Here is First Track groovin through

Hiking West to the KOA at sunset was beautiful

Cowboy Camp at the KOA

We walked through this tunnel that is in the exact shape of the PCT sign that keeps us on trail!

With only 3 miles to our destination, I started to feel some new blisters. Even with all I've learned, I didn't want to stop and fix the problem. I just wanted to get to town. I told myself if a perfect rest stop came by that I would stop. This was shady, flat and roomy with no bugs. We took a break.

I find myself taking more rests and enjoying the hike more. I'm working on my efficiency at stops. I try to eat, take my shoes and socks off, transfer water to easy reaching bottles (like First Track above), stretch and relax in under an hour. I may do this 3-5 times in a 25 mile day.

Earlier in the hike I thought it would be neat to listen to an audiobook that would describe the flora and fauna along the trail. So when these informative signs came around, it was funny. This sign came a little late. I had already seen so much Poison Oak!

I thought these were the same. The plant below normally has a giant stalk with flowers growing out of it. That has been one of my favorite plants on the trail and I kept wondering what type of Yucca it was. 

Hiker Heaven

I have spent 2 nights at Hiker Heaven, also known as The Saufleys, in the town of Agua Dulce. These folks have it down for sure! There is an internet cafe, organized rides to REI, wifi, cots, tents, portapotties, bikes to ride to town, tv and movies. They do your laundry and provide fun camp clothes. I have been in mine for 2 days now. 

Enjoying a great second breakfast of macaroni and cheese, french fries, California Club and an ice cold CocaCola out of the bottle. Life is good!!  These are all shoes that are up for grabs.

Usually everywhere hikers stop, there is a registry and a hiker box. The Saufley's have so many hikers, they have to sort out their boxes

There are a few people that are hurt bad and resting up here. The man above sitting in the white chair, noticed a bump on the bottom of his foot. He thought that it was just an internal blister. When it continued to get inflamed and swollen, he went to the hospital. He had been infected with MRSA. Ironically, his trail name is Lucky. Another guy is here because of a stress fracture. He gets the results back from his MRI tomorrow. This place isn't too shabby to be for a while...

The closest tent is mine. There are only about 15 hikers here, but the Saufleys have and can house 50! With 1,300 registered thru-hikers and 600 section hikers, the trail is busy. I'm behind the pack now, which has been nice. There isn't as much Trail Magic, but the hiker boxes are stocked!

This is looking from my tent back to the house. All the campers and horse trailers are converted to rooms. There are also 3 rooms in the hiker house to the right. The Saufley's reserve these rooms for couples or injured. I prefer to sleep outside anyway. The main house is straight ahead. Inside the hiker house is the shower, kitchen and living room.

The town is a mile downhill passed the horse stable. These are bikes to ride to town.

Above is the main house

Dog just cooling off

Great way to get around out here!!

I spent close to 2 hours on this rocking bench yesterday watching horses. It was very relaxing. I'm trying to hit the trail tonight and escape some of the desert heat. My next destination is another Trail Angel's home, called the Andersons. I hope to be in Tahachapi in a week. Hopefully, I'll be able to post another blog then.

No comments:

Post a Comment