May 24, 2018 | miles 345.7 to 377 |
Another 30, this time of my own volition. We woke up in the fog. Apparently the clouds had moved in through the night, leaving everything wet yet again. Such is the joy of cowboy and tarp camping, I suppose.
I was worried about being slow at first, but it appeared that my worries were misplaced. Our first twenty miles were climbing up the San Gabriel mountains along the side of mt San Antonio. And uphill I can do.
We were in the clouds for most of the morning, and my headphones were in as I finished up my Dune audiobook. We rose up through hills that showed potential for beautiful views, unfortunately hidden by 50 ft visibility. But after rising up past 6000 feet or so, we finally arrived above the clouds. There’s something special about watching a sea of clouds from up above knowing that we climbed past it all. Sure, we missed whatever was below, but we were also privy to our own special experience.
Sam and I cruised though those first twenty miles, surprised how far behind Heaps and Nudedude were; they’d usually be right on our tails, if not in front, but we had yet to see them despite taking two food breaks.
We decided to push on, knowing we’d see them at the highway where most hikers hitch to Wrightwood. The last portion was primarily downhill, and steep at that. I took my time trying to give by knee and support as much rest as possible. I had arranged to meet my father at Eagle Roost, just twenty miles past the highway so I was in no rush.
I reached the highway only 10 minutes before Heaps and Nudedude arrived. They shared some of their leftover food with me to ensure I’d have enough calories to take me to where I was headed off trail, and we made our temporary goodbyes as they hitched into Wrightwood, while I rested to continue forward to prevent myself from falling too far behind from my off trail zero.
Funnily enough before they left, Heaps met some more fans: Brielle and Cameron from San Luis Obispo. Apparently she’s more of a trail celebrity than I realized!
After my quilt had mostly dried off, I pushed forward a mile to a campground to reach a cache and cook dinner. I still had my Asian Lnorr side dish and tuna, and Heaps added a fresh avocado while James had offered me his potatoes. A feast was had. And what a mistake it was. Two lessons learned: eating Idahoan potatoes dry, albeit delicious, drains you of all your mouth’s moisture in a way that puts even saltines to shame. Also, really weird mixes don’t sit well in the stomach. Fortunately, after a steep descent to cross Highway 2 between San Antonio and Baden Powell, a miracle outhouse saved me from a rough night.
From the highway crossing, Baden Powell Peak was only 4 miles, but a tough 4 miles with 2800 feet of elevation gain. With over 28 miles already in my feet for the day, I decided to aim for the campsite just a mile short of the peak rather than going for the sunset view. Although it would have been majestic to see the peak at sunset, recuperating my knee takes priority. I set up my tarp, only to have it collapse on me after flapping in the wind like a sail. But I was too tired to pitch it again; it was only for practice an anyway. I simply retired the loosened stake, adding a rock for stability.
One more day until I temporarily return to civilization. Will I still know how to live a non-trail life?