Just Keep Walking: Wrightwood to Agua Dulce

Day 23: Mile 364.3 to Mile 383.9 Little Jimmy Campground

Miles: 19.6

Steps: 56,969

We said goodbye to Jeff and his lovely wife this morning, after he dropped us off in town. We had breakfast at a popular hiker breakfast place and then I said goodbye to the gang to hitch.

Here’s the thing. You have to do you and I have to do me. I’ve learned that at Paradise Cafe when I skipped the fire closure, to stay with the group I’ve come to love so dearly. However, no matter how much I love others, I love me more. The trail has definitely taught me how to stand up for what I want, even if that means being alone for a bit. I came out here to do the entire trail, even if that means taking a detour around a fire closure. That’s me. I am not judging those who think otherwise, nor do I look upon them differently. For me, I’ve felt bad ever since I hitched passed those 28 miles to idyllwild.

I was going to hitch to Mile 268, backtrack the miles I missed and hike them again, but I was so very lucky to have a super nice trail angel who drove me to the campground we camped at, before going back to Acorn Trail. I had debated doing Acorn Trail back up, but it was a hefty 2.7 mile climb and would have been super crappy to do. So, it all worked out so perfectly. God sure does watch out for us.

These miles are a popular day hike to Inspiration Point, with inspirational (ha!) views! If you take this route, you can easily get back on the PCT where you left off, without extra miles or skipped miles, and hitching to Wrightwood is really easy!

It’s pretty crazy to think that just a few months ago, the area my feet walked along from Guffy Campground, was packed with snow; laughter from skiers and snowboarders filling the air. Oh how I love the mountains, which bring excitement from outdoor enthusiasts, related to the variety of activities they bring with each approaching season.

After making up the additional miles I missed, the climb to Mount Baden-Powell began.

After trekking up 3,000 feet in 4 miles, I set my pack down to quickly Summit, take some photos and head back down to my pack (at the spot in the photo above).

The summit was awesome… the first time. The views must have distracted me and I ended up going down the wrong side of the mountain, resulting in having to summit again to find my pack.

After the second summit, I found a nice sitting rock, made sure no one was around and had a good cry, that had been building up. Once I got that out of my system, I pulled myself up and just kept walking.

img_2858I bet you’re expecting that things got better from this point forward, but they didn’t. I ended up almost sliding down the mountain on the snow, losing the trail a billion times because of the snow, climbing over 5,000 feet, taking 10 hours to go 19.7 miles and having to set up my tent in the dark. Needless to say, I was pretty much over Day 23.

img_2888

img_2894Although one of the most challenging days, it was my favorite days for panoramic views.

Day 24: Mile 383.9 to Mile 406.6

Miles: 22.7

Steps: 63,225

I woke up with a sore throat and feeling a bit puffy…. I didn’t drink enough water the day prior, that’s for sure. There came a point out here, when I stopped looking at myself in a mirror. Partly because I stopped worrying about how I looked, and partly because there’s not much I can do about it! I braid my hair, put my bandanna on, saturate my already sunburnt face with sunscreen, throw the colored sunglasses on to cover my puffy tired eyes, and pack up camp. And then… I just keep walking!

img_2936Shortly after the start of the day I came to a sign, similar to Baden-Powell with what appeared to be a similarly steep trail… “Here we go again.”

img_2943I stopped for a snack… tortillas with rice, cheese and olive oil. I was pretty chilly, so I had a cup of white hot chocolate to make my heart happy before the climb. It wasn’t as much of a climb as Baden-Powell, but it was still steep and my legs just didn’t want to walk up anymore. The view was nice from the top of Saddle something or another, but I was too tired to admire it.

A bit excitement of the day was crossing the 400 mile marker. At this point, my feet had walked 400 miles in 24 days. Isn’t that insane?!

Half way through the day, I came to a 4.5 mile endangered frog species detour. Road walking isn’t easy on your body, nor is it very scenic. All for good reason though. Once getting back to the trail, I started walking south on the trail, instead of north. Hooray for extra miles! This was how this week was going.

The highlight of my day, was walking toward the campsite, my friends catching a glimpse of me, and cheering when I arrived. This was the first time I had been with them in a day in a half. We sat by a camp fire, told stories from the past 2 days, and laughed the evening away. 

Day 25: Mile 406.6 to Mile 430.4

Miles: 23.8

Steps: 59,741

Half of the gang left early early in the morning, trying to get as many miles in as possible, and 4 of us left around 7am.

It was a very nice, decently paced day for us. The sun became very hot, early on in the day though.

img_3037It boggles my mind, that only a few days prior, we were in a snow storm and my clothes froze overnight.

Now, it was so hot that I welcomed the sweat dripping down the sides of my face. The only thing that cooled me down when we took breaks, was the saturation of my clothes from the sweat.

We had lunch at a fire station, where there was a water source. My lunch favorite of the week: tortilla with ramen noodles, velveta cheese, beef jerky and honey-BBQ Fritos. The firemen and women were nice enough to leave the broken water pipe turned on for us to get water. We spent a couple hours hanging out near the fire station, eating lunch, and trying to wait out some of the heat. This was the first day that we were really feeling the desert sun.

After lunch, the sun was still scorching. My hands began to blister from the sun. The blisters on my nose blistered again from the sun. 

We crossed many previously burned areas, meaning the most Poodle Dog Bushes that we had seen thus far. Apparently there was previously a detour to avoid the highly populated Poodle Dog Bush area, but we didn’t get that memo. We simply avoided it like the plague and seemed to have avoided touching it.

Poodle Dog Bush thrives in recently burned areas, until other growth returns. Their seeds can remain dormant in an area for years, waiting for the next fire to kill off the competitors. Poodle Dog Bush secrets a skin irritant, which has been said to be worse than poison oak, or ivy, causing a reaction as mild as a rash, and as severe as respiratory distress. Poodle Dog Bush has been the scariest thing for me, in the desert section. Boy did we see hundreds of them passing these miles.

We hiked just until the sun set, which did not disappoint. There really is something to be said about desert sunsets.

Day 26: Mile 430.4 to Mile 454.5 Agua Dulce

Miles: 24.1

Steps: 67,128

I wanted to get to Agua Dulce by the end of the day and the rest of the group wanted to take it easy, so we parted ways again.

I left the Campground around 8am. I could feel that I was back in the desert. The heat was almost unbearable. My sunburn skin was throbbing beneath the long sleeve shirt I was forced to wear. Sunscreen just wasn’t able to keep up with the rays of sun scorching my skin. Water was getting more scarce, but thankfully my pack was pretty light with it being the last day before resupply. My hiker hunger has kicked in, so I was eating all of my food, and wanting more. I decided that I would have to start carrying more food, despite my body not wanting to carry the extra weight.

To my surprise, I happened to look at my Guthook map and see that I was soon approaching the small town of Acton. After reading the comments about what the RV camp offered, I decided to make a pit-stop for a cold soda and lunch before continuing on. During my visit in Acton, I managed to scarf down a Twix, small pizza, ice cream Snickers, 2 Mt Dews and a bag of Cheetos. After letting that settle a bit, I got up and just kept walking.

Vasquez Rock Natural Area was also a delightful surprise. The week really had turned itself around.

The creation of these rock formations began more than 25 million years ago!

A mossy stream flows through the rock formations, making it even more of an exotic sight for my eyes, which had been mainly exposed to the desert scenery lately. Soon I realized that if I continued to let the beautiful rock formations and taking a million photos, distract me, I would never get to Agua Dulce. So, I continued on and shortly after, I arrived in Agua Dulce.

The infamous Hiker Heaven lies in Agua Dulce. Read about my time in Agua Dulce and at Hiker Heaven next week!

 

5 thoughts on “Just Keep Walking: Wrightwood to Agua Dulce

  1. wahoo! the tough get tougher! Good job! Yeah hiking in desert sun – doing anything in it really is tough. Definitely effects your mental judgement if not careful. well from my experience. Btw i did not win Wave lottery again for 3rd time. Bit depressing but over 100 people – mostly foreigners in BLM office. Makes it hard, I did Spooky and peekabo and dry wash slots which were crowded but awesome! i credit you with those from your posts. If not reading about your adventure there I may not have known about them. So kudos to you! Now get your sunburned butt walking again! šŸ˜‰ Rock on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Pretty much everyone I know from the class of 2016 (including myself) started to struggle mentally with the desert on this section of trail. Basically, we all wanted to be done with the desert and just get to the Sierras. How that came out differed by the different personalities of the people. In the end, we all looked back on our time in the desert fondly. You’re still crushing it on the trail and just remember, the trail provides.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t really have a single section that stood out. Here are a few that stood out.

        My detour around the Endangered Species Closure was tough because I left my hiking partner behind about 4 days earlier and started to really miss her that day. Soon after I met some new friends who started me down a path where now I have 2018 plans that really excite me.

        My attempt at night hiking through the Mojave Desert (we had a heat wave when we crossed it) beat me up (sleep deprivation) and I never totally recovered until I took a week off for a mountain climb at South Lake Tahoe. I learned to not night hike again no matter how hot it got and that lesson ended up helping me connect with a hiker who is the person I want to be when I grow up.

        In Yosemite after Tuolumne, I was nearly brought to tears by mosquitoes as I ran out of deet. The day after that, I hiked a really cool section of trail to get to Sonora Pass where I ran into a string of trail magic events that were unrivaled by the rest of the trail. I also made sure I would never run out of deet again!

        From Fish Lake Resort to Crater Lake in Oregon, there was so much deadfall that the trail was basically an obstacle course and I was low on food which made my energy drag making me hangry. That was really sad because all the downed trees were still green. I ran into two friends on the trail near the end of that day who lifted my spirits and I had a unique (and illegal) experience at Crater Lake that was one of the highlights of the PCT for me.

        My first day in Washington, my feet hurt so bad because my shoes fell apart at the end of Oregon that I started having doubts if I could finish. That was really the only time I doubted my ability to finish. Two days later, I had my best day as my feet felt better, got to hike with a friend, saw a couple friends I hadn’t seen since Mt. Shasta, have the most inspiring conversation on the trail with four Swiss people, and camped under Mt. Adams watching it in full alpenglow.

        Those were my most challenging experiences on the trail and each of them led to or were soon followed by some of my best experiences. I’m guessing that you didn’t want this lengthy of a description to your answer, but that’s as concise as I can answer it.

        The trail provides! Or if you believe in God like I do, God provides! (I tend to use the first saying in regards to the PCT since most thru hikers don’t believe in God)

        Liked by 1 person

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