Which way??

Mile 369.1-389.3, plus side trip to Mt Baden Powell and on snow navigation

Sir John and I were up bright and early or usual time for me. Yesterday at the coffee shop I snagged a ride back to the trailhead from Gary, a retired marine with lots of stories. We were dropped off at 645 at the Inspiration Point trailhead. It was crazy windy again and cold. I had to don my rain pants, rain coat, buff and gloves. I said goodbye to Sir John at mile 374 as he was doing the Manzanita High Desert Trail to bypass going up and over Baden Powell.

The PCT at the point is a series of switchbacks gaining over 2600 ft of elevation. There is an additional 200ft gain if one decides to summit Mt Baden Powell (9407ft).  The trail was made by the Boy Scouts and is named after the founder of the World Scouting Movement (tid bits I learned from the locals in Wrightwood). About a mile from where the Spur trail to Baden Powell meets the PCT all signs of trail were completely gone. Most people at this point go straight up, but there were boot tracks all over so I had to rely on my route finding/navigation skills as I was alone surprisingly. I donned my microspikes and up I went to summit Mt Baden Powell. In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that bad but also wasn’t the wisest idea to go alone either. But waiting in the frigid wind wasn’t a realistic option. I did the cursory summit selfie,  panoramic video and lingered a bit at the ancient Wally Waldron tree (at 1,500 year old, this limber pine is said to be the oldest in the San Gabriel mountains) before heading down to rejoin the PCT.

The trail didn’t improve as required near constant navigation…foot steps going in wrong directions and taking you too far off trail.  By the time I was below the snow line I was so cognitively fatigued I needed a break to rest. I meet Wookie for the first time as he was stopped for a midday break. We pass the simple trail courtesies I was too tired for more. Shortly after Rocky and Peaks arrive, they are so much faster on the down…but I do leap frog a bit with them and Wookie for a few of miles.  Finally I arrived at Little Jimmy Campground. I toyed with the idea of camping there but there was some testosterone wood chopping which meant crazy campfire….with the wind all day that was a big no thank you and I moved on. Shortly after I was almost knocked off my socks when I had the pleasure passing a PCT Thru Rider. I didn’t get his name, but his smile sure made my day. Should have gotten a picture. I may have even talked about him a few times after this brief encounter!

I found Wookie by the parking lot…the trail in this stage cross highway 2 so many times, but that often means pit toilets and garbage cans…oh the luxuries of trail life. Wookie and I plan to hike 3.5 mikes further to the next campsite. By the first 3/4 mile in I was feeling ever so exhausted…the rate of elevation gain was similar to Baden Powell but thankfully only 1.7 miles…I can do that, but the kind spirit and wonderful smile of Wookie helped an awful lot. He even gave me a Worthers original candy, the simple things sure make a world of different. Wish I carried extras to be able to make the same difference to others. Arriving at the campsite we find Peaks and Rocky, we managed to fit 3 tents in a 2 tent space. We eat dinner together which is a nice treat. I’m loving the journey along the PCT, the community of this trail and the people I am meeting.

Wookie up aheadPhoto courtesy of Wookie

My feet are so sore after a 20 mile+++ day but I am still loving being on the trail.


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