Wrightwood to Agua Dulce
May 9, 2014
Start: Halfmile 0369.5
End: Old Endangered Species Re-Route Mi 3.0 (of 6.0)
Distance: 20.5 + 3.0 = 23.5 Mi
Cumulative: 402.5 Mi
Well, I had to let it go. I took the bus back to Phelan at 530a this morning, then hitched up to Wrightwood. I dropped a few items in the mail (yay, lightening the load!), left my new number at the Yodeler in case she ever comes back, wrote a note and pinned it to a post at the trailhead where Michelle dropped me off the other day, then got going. Finally.
I was northbound by 10a. I hate that I’ve lost over two days in addition to the original planned zero. It didn’t take long to get back into the swing of it, though. The day started with a pretty big climb. I labored up and up and over Baden-Powell. It was stunning. Again, one of my now-new favorite sections. I’ve been so impressed by these first few hundred miles.
I was still inside my own head about this phone business as I reached the ridge. When the views opened up, it hit me. Perspective. Sure, I hated to lose my phone. But of the three things I never wanted to lose, that’s the one I would’ve chosen if I’d had to pick. It could totally be worse. And this incident had already robbed me of time and money. Why should I let my mistake take anything else from me? I wasn’t hiking in the moment this morning. I was seething. When this epiphany finally struck, it brought me back to the present. I was maybe 15 miles from Inspiration Point, and I finally began to let it go. There are worse things.
I made it nearly 24 miles today, ending at the Buckhorn CG after a 3-ish mile road walk around an endangered species detour. It was after dark, so I was quite lucky to meet a big group who had purchased an extra site. Something about having too many vehicles. They let me crash there for free. It’s an awesome gesture. And having this place to myself is awesome. And the moon is awesome. And being back on the trail is awesome. Awesome.
May 10, 2014
Start: Old Endangered Species Re-Route Mi 3.0 (of 6.0)
End: Halfmile 0419.0
Distance: 23.5 + 3.0 = 26.5 Mi
Cumulative: 429.0 Mi
Slept in this morning, which was a nice change. I was planning to get going around 530a, but didn’t even get up until 7a. It was just too dang nice in that campground. And I got in pretty late, so that made it easy to justify turning the alarm off and rolling over.
The final stretch of the old re-route was on the Buckhart Trail, which was such a gorgeous section. Still, there is nothing quite like getting back on the PCT. Pretty much cruised the rest of the day. Had to dodge some more Poodle Dog Bush, but it wasn’t as bad as the water report made it out to be. I was thinking crazy Cirque Du Soleil moves, but it was more like I imagine tap dancing would be. NBD.
I spent most of the latter part of the day in an old burn area. I think the Poodle Dog Bush is one of the first pioneer plants to re-vegitate after a wildfire, or at least those seem to be the areas where I see it most.
Camping at a local fire station tonight. I recognize this road crossing. (We’ve crossed the Angeles Crest Hwy 6 or 8 times today.) Kelly and I got picked up here after we brushed a section of trail during one of our NWSA-PCTA training hitches. Looks like I’ll be hiking over some of our work again tomorrow. It’s nothing exciting: brushing, tread, drainages. Still, we were here. And that’s cool. Can’t wait to see our awesome work in the Northern Sierra later this summer.
May 11, 2014
Start: Halfmile 0419.0
End: Halfmile 0444.0
Distance: 25.0 Mi
Cumulative: 454.0 Mi
The wind was howling all last night, but I hardly noticed. My sleeping bag is the best. Love that thing. Got outta there around 530a; that’s my kinda start! The wind continued blasting until well-after lunch, nearly 20 miles all together. More than once, I was going downhill and just flung my arms out and had to put all of my weight into the wind to make any progress at all, my trekking poles flapping violently in the wind behind me. It was that insane. I just had to laugh. It’s the kinda thing that might’ve really stressed me out earlier in my life, but now it’s just second degree fun. The best kind, if you ask me.
What do you mean, “What is second degree fun”?? There are three degrees of fun: first, second, third. First degree fun is the kind of thing that’s just fun. Swinging, or dancing, or eating ice cream. Second degree fun is more subtle. It’s the kinda thing that isn’t really fun while you’re doing it, but it’s your favorite story to tell later. Breaking your leg on an epic backcountry summit, or cycling 110 miles into a gnarly headwind, or staring down a cougar. It’s miserable or terrifying while it’s happening, but when it’s all over and you’re ok, it’s the coolest and you’ll never forget it. And never stop telling your friends and family about it. Third degree fun just sucks. It sucks while it’s happening; you never talk about it. But you almost certainly learned something from it. There is very little fun in life that is strictly of the third degree. It sounds crazy, but second degree fun is my favorite. When I learned about this way of seeing the world, it totally changed my life. It made it easier to laugh at myself, to appreciate difficult experiences, to see the fun behind the misery. It’s brilliant.
Since we’re talking about fun, I also got to have some first degree fun today. Just before I arrived at the KOA, there was a road crossing. Posted up in the adjacent parking area was a Trail Angel offering hikers root beer floats. When he shouted my way, I thought he was kidding, like it was some kind of cruel joke. I wasn’t sure what to say, but he seemed so genuine.
“Hey, you want a root beer float?”
He laughed and said, “Well, you don’t have to!”
“No, no, please!”
Coppertone was a rad dude. He just travels around – hiking, biking, chilling. That’s the life. Maybe I’ll see him again up the trail somewhere. Now, that would be cool!
Today was a good day for Trail Magic. Remember those folks I met at McDonalds last week? I called them today when I hit the KOA. I was a few days later than they were expecting, and I had no idea whether they were free or how inconvenient picking me up would be, but I’d really been looking forward to seeing them again, so I gave Joy a ring. She sounded surprised over the phone, but made time to swing by and get me. She and her husband (Curtis) are awesome! They let me do laundry and shower; they grilled burgers and made guac; we swapped stories about our travels and backpacking. It was really great. If you guys are reading this, thank you so much!
May 12, 2014
Start: Halfmile 0444.0
End: Halfmile 0454.0
Distance: 10.0 Mi
Cumulative: 464.0 Mi
I only put in 10 miles today. Ten by ten, actually. “Ten miles by 10a.” I mean, it’s basically a zero. I got to hike through the gorgeous Vasquez Rocks Co Park. The user trails made it a little bit confusing, but I didn’t care. I was barely paying attention to the trail to begin with. Beautiful.
My original game plan today was to cruise the 10 miles from the KOA, grab my package at the Saufley’s, then move along. But then I arrived. It’s just too good. And an REI run?? I was set; another nero (i.e. near zero – ten miles or less). I’m hoping to hit the trail early tomorrow, but we’ll see. I got a cot, so I’m pretty much staying at the Hilton. And who rushes out of the freakin’ Hilton?! Again, what’s the rush? The Sierra aren’t going anywhere.