Day 26 – 31 Wrightwood to Agua Dulce

Day 25 05.04.18 Continued

Arriving at our trail angels place, Diana welcomed us to her home, lent us clothes to wear while we did our laundry, let us have hot showers and then cooked us the most amazing meal. A spread of salad, pasta and freshly baked bread followed by ice cream had us all so satisfied and grateful. Once her husband Ken got home he shared scotch with the boys we talked for much later than we’re usually up.

Day 26 06.04.18 14.5 Miles / 23.5km

What a day!

Diana cooked us an incredible breakfast spread of eggs, pancakes, yogurt and homemade granola. We ate huge portions, packed our bags and then she gave us a lift back to the trail. Such a lovely person I’m overwhemeled by the kindness she’s shown us. The purpose of this trail was to see how common human kindness is, and we found it here. Wrightwood overall has been such a friendly place.

Since there were six of us Diana did two trips dropping the girls off first. It’s the first time we hiked as just the girls and it felt great. We built each other up, talked about life, relationships and every other gross trail topic that came up – nothing is out of bounds out here.

Climbing to Summit Mt Baden Powell Four Eyes went ahead and Emma and I kept the same pace. The endless switchbacks gradually become covered in snow until the tail was no longer visible. Emma slipped and slid down the snowy slope. Laughing she drops her pack, gets up and slips again trying to pick up her bag, heavy full of food. Eventually she gave up making her way down to the switchback below where I could throw her crampons to put on and hike back up. The boys ended catching up to us at this point so we all put on our microspikes.

With the trail no longer visible we climbed straight up the snowy slopes kicking our shoes in with every step. Some snow was softer than other parts, postholing to our knees at points. I’m not sure why Emma and I decided on shorts for the day. Probably because we knew we had a big climb, but as soon as we stopped in the snow additional layers were added. The boys have created a new rule, always wear pants on summit days.

Summiting Mt Baden Powell was extremely significant for me. The mountain was named after the founder of Scouting, and the way I came to be on this trail was through my Scouting journey. Only two days before I flew out from Australia I received my Baden Powell Award which is the highest award in the Rover section. I was ecstatic to be there to say the least.

I took my time to read the Baden Powell Monument and then recorded myself taking the Scout Promise from the peak. I’m thrilled I carried the Scouts Australia badge from my uniform all this way to have such significant photos taken.

Before long the weather turned and the clouds rolled in. More wind picked up and we decided it was time to get off the mountain. Well out of my comfort zone in snow I was slow on the descent. Slipping in ice terrifies me and I’m paranoid I’m going to break another pole. The micro spikes help but were eventually not needed as we dropped in elevation. My left knee was hurting with tendinitis pain when going downhill, I limp on my right leg causing me to slip twice in the dirt. Defeated and grumpy I get up with a bruised hip and carry on. What a challenging day, we skipped lunch trying to get out of high wind and rolling in clouds so the last 5kms to camp went forever and at 1km out I decided on an attitude check because no one likes to be around grumpy people. I have a handful of pretzels, take a vultaren (anti inflammatories) and a five minute break. This did the trick and by the time I reached camp I was nice to be around again.

Emma officially received her Trail name “Trooper” since she always gets up and keeps going despite her limited experience to hiking. She’s killing it and impressing all of us.

All food went in the bear box on site at the campground and once 30 Scouts arrived after bedtime Four Eyes politely told them “For f**k sake, use your polite red” as they shone headlights around like disco lights. She wasn’t to know they were all around 12 years old.

Day 27 07.04.18 16.5 Miles / 27 km

I am in love with this new Big Agnes sleep bag, it’s so soft and warm and the colours work with my scheme much better 😉

The new Aura 50L bag is also the most comfortable I’ve ever been in a pack. The heavy water carries won’t worry me now, and having hip pockets is essential on trail. I’m a much happier, more efficient hiker now.

We hike all morning through serene pine and gorgeous landscapes. It’s breathtaking and makes me reflect on the journey so far and everything that got me to the very moment. Just wow.

Once hitting the highway we reach trail detours due to endangered frog species. We decide the hitchhike the 6km road section since it’s a punish and picked back up with the trail where it next intersected. After this lazy day we reach camp early and laze around eating double dinners and all our junk food, grateful for the unmarked spring close to camp.

At camp Four Eyes encourages us to sniff the pine trees, the sap smells like butterscotch though sadly doesn’t taste like it. Bluejay snapped a branch trying to hang food off said pine trees. His after the hang practice for Washington, but for now my hiking poles stay with me as bear sticks for the night.

Day 28 08.04.18 18 Miles / 29km

In a line we started the morning on a decent uphill climb so we all put in headphones and powered up. Kyle and Gandalf summited Mt Williamson which was a short turnoff from the trail, but Bluejay, Trooper and myself weren’t interested in making our day any harder for the same view as the Mt Baden Powell, so continued towards camp.

At lunch we shared our music realising how similar our tastes were considering we are from three different countries. Kyle suggested earlier in the week we become a hiking A Cappella group, so song suggestions are now open.

Making it to the fire station to camp for the night Four Eyes was joined by some friends who brought us pizza, cheese, chocolate, chips and fruit. We were ecstatic. This is absolutely the way to our heart and the appreciation we show between breaths and mouthfuls of pizza is made with pure joy.

Making the most of taps I rinse off with a wet bandana noticing a rash up my leg. Poodle dog bush? Google says the reaction is usually worse so PDB is unlikely. I rinsed my pants in case and the rash disappeared a few days later. Expecting new shoes in a few days I drain some deep blisters that have developed and hobble into bed on a belly full of pizza.

Day 29 09.04.18 21.5 Miles / 35km

Woken up by the wind at 1am I try my best to ignore the flapping sounds of my parachute of a tent around me. Concerned about the integrity of the centre pole I eventually got up and removed the fly allowing the wind to cut straight through the mesh reducing the force against my struggling tent. This worked well for a peaceful rest of the right.

Up early at 5am we started the trail just after sunrise to avoid the heat. Hiker Flash appeared out of nowhere after he’d hiked since 3am from an earlier site. We hiked together for the day stopping for a 2hr lunch break to be out of the sun.

By the time I got to the ranger station for the night my feet ached. After 900km (560 miles) my shoes were ready for retirement with no arch or heel support left. Salomon had sent me their new thru hiking shoe the Odyssey Pro so I have just one more day of hiking until I pick up the parcel in Agua Dulce.

Day 30 10.04.18 18.5 Miles / 30km

Starting again at 5.45am it was warm before the sun rose. Watching the sky light up over the mountains held a special meaning today as it was my Nannas funeral back home.

We made great time reaching the halfway point, a KOA Campground by 9:30am. Kyle and I took the opportunity to eat ice cream, drink soft drinks and hang out. The rest of the gang soon showed up and two hours later we realise we still haven’t moved. Departing at 11:30am into the heat of the day Kyle and I push on while the others hitch hiked. Kyle is leaving for a side trip in LA so we spend the day together since we don’t know when he’ll be able to catch back up.

Crossing through Vasquez Rocks Country Park we see the backdrop of movies such as Planet of the Apes, The Flinstones and many other Western films. It was so unique to the terrain we’ve hiked surrounded by dramatic rock features.

The heat was extreme and we only stopped briefly for lunch. Our water bottles were the temperature I like my coffee at so despite drinking 2litres our thirst was never quenched. By the time we arrived at Agua Dulce I’m sure we were in the early stages of heat stroke. In the supermarket we couldn’t function beyond finding gatorade then sitting down to drink it, then buying more Gatorade. We meet other hikers and they give us a lift to Hiker Heaven in The Sawfleys borrowed car.

Hiker Heaven is just that. The Saufleys have opened up their property to hikers for free camping, laundry and shower services. The have set up a little city with loaner clothes, sewing and postal services, clippers and a guest house with kitchen and lounge room. It’s absolutely amazing what they provide to the Hiker community.

The hikers in return had just bought them a BBQ so we arrived to a BYO meat party. Kyle got us T-bones and I offended everyone by putting tomato sauce on it…bloody Australians.

Day 31 11.04.18km zero

Waking up to the 10minute ride to town announcement had us up pretty quickly. In town we had coffee, omelettes and milkshakes until we couldn’t breath and then walked the mile back to Hiker Heaven.

I said my goodbyes to Kyle then jumped on a shuttle REI to get replace my pants that are chaffing me on the seams and got sandals that I can wear socks and hike in, which is far more convenient than trying to wear socks with thongs.

I shopped my resupply for the next 5 days, joined hiker Miles and Gandalf at the local Mexican place for margaritas and I grab a take away burrito which left me in an overfull world of regret.

Tomorrow I’ll be resting again to give my feet the break they deserve after 700km (435 miles) and giving Ray the chance to catch up.

(3) Comments

  1. Jodie & Thomas says:

    Hi Heather, just a couple of Queenslanders here. Mum & 14 son, Thomas (a Scout – a passionate hiker). Thought we’d finally say hi as we look forward to reading about your awesome adventure together each week. Our faces beam with happiness, enthusiasm & a sense of pride with each post. All read more than once. Who knows, the PCT maybe a one day for Thomas. You are an inspiration for him.
    Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi!

    1. Hi Jodie and Thomas, thanks for reading and commenting – nothing makes me prouder than inspiring those back home. Thomas, feel free to get your Scout Troop interested and I can answer any questions you guys have in a chat. Dream big!

  2. Kel Rho says:

    I think yours is the best PCT blog I’ve read so far, thank you! Really appreciate the detailed information, the excellent descriptions, and the hints you leave for others who will be hiking the trail.

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