Day 27 & 28 – Hold on to your toilet paper! And other top tips.
Saturday 25 May 2019
Location: Mile 369.3 to Mile 375.8
Distance travelled: 6.5 miles / 10 km
It was so nice to be indoors, warm and snuggly when I woke up to pee in the early hours this morning. It makes life so much easier having an indoors toilet. You learn to appreciate the small things on trail.
The house was still quiet when I woke up this morning. I was was concerned with taking up too much of Kyle and Kate’s time but when I went upstairs to cook some eggs at around 7:30am they were only just waking up.
We had a relaxed start to the day learning a lot about natural therapies, sound healing and CBD oil. It was mid morning before Kyle shuttled us all back into town to resupply and get set for the day.
I headed to the hardware store to speak to some of their knowledge staff about the status of the trail. A guy named Mark gave me some super helpful advice and I ended up buying a pair of microspikes to hopefully help me on the trail over the next day or so. Baden Powell was hit by a snow storm a few days back and is due for more snow on Sunday, when I am due to be going over it. Jeff, Mahni Ben and I had a chat about it and decided to continue on and play it by ear. If the weather gets too wild we can always camp and wait it out or head back down into Wrightwood.
It was an interesting afternoon in the hiker friendly town of Wrightwood. After resupplying I was invited to a food tasting competition in the local hairdresser (yes you read that correctly), received some free food from the supermarket and even a free coffee from the local coffee shop. It was hard to say goodbye to the place.
Mahni and Ben had met up with some friends from LA (and their dog) and headed back out on trail a little earlier in the day. I headed back out in trail with Jeff, yesterday a local man had given Jeff his number in the supermarket and told him to call if he needed a ride (yup, that’s how friendly they are in Wrightwood). We didn’t have any luck getting in touch with Dennis but it only took a few minutes to get a hitch out of town and back to the trailhead. We were picked up by a lovely mad who already had one hiker in the car.
It was after 3pm when we started back on the trail. It was nice to have an easy day, only walking 6.5 miles. We were planning for a little less than that but the campsite we were originally aiming for was full when we arrived. I took it easy with a heavy pack full of food. I walked slowly and took in the sights as I started the ascent up to Baden Powell.
It was a holiday weekend in California so I passed many day hikers and people out camping for the weekend. I passed a large group of kids out hiking, presumably girl scouts who all wished me luck as they hiked by.
The higher I climbed the better the views became. It was a stunning afternoon on the trail. Being forced to walk the extra 1.5 miles worked out well, we ended up in a terrific campsite with stunning views off the mountain. Fingers crossed we don’t end up with too much wind or too much rain overnight.
Sunday 26 May 2019
Location: Mile 375.8 to Mile 386.1
Distance travelled: 10.3 miles / 17 km
Today started as a comedy of errors. As has become my normal routine, I was up early for the bathroom. I climbed out of the tent, slipped on my camp shoes and went in search of a spot. We were camped 1.5 miles up the side of a mountain so needless to say all appropriate cat hole sites were on a rather steep slope.
I had dug my hole and done my thing and was reaching for my bag of TP. It was a cold morning, just above freezing so my hands weren’t working too well. I fumbled with my bag of TP whilst I was trying to open it and to my horror it went tumbling down the mountain. It was one of those moments where things play out in slow motion. What was a few seconds of my little baggie flipping end on end down the hill felt like 15 minutes. Thankfully it came to rest 15 metres or so down the hill in front of me. There I was in the middle of the forest, pants around ankles with no other choice but to carefully waddle my way down the hill to retrieve my TP.
I felt thankful that things hadn’t ended up worse than what they did and began my walk back up the hill, looking forward to crawling back into my sleeping bag in an effort to warm up.
When I reached the crest of the hill, I spotted the bright orange of the tent, good, I thought, I didn’t get lost on my mission to take a poop. As I neared closer to my tent site I realised, to my horror, my tent was not where I had left it.
During my TP debacle, a huge gust of wind had whipped up and flipped my tent on its side, into a tree. All but one peg had been ripped out of the ground. Even the large rocks I had used to secure it during the night had been rendered useless. My initial reaction was to panic. I was certain, that by the contorted angle of the tent, it must be damaged. A feeling of sheer relief spread over me when I realised all was fine. I undid the tangle of tent, packed my gear, ate my breakfast in the freezing cold and questioned whether the happenings of this morning were a sign that I was not meant to walk today, not meant to attempt to summit Baden Powell in a forecast of wind and snow.
I chatted to my hiking buddy Jeffery, he was camping nearby. He was still in his tent by the time I was getting ready to leave but was also planning to walk today. I decided I would start walking and see how conditions were looking further up the mountain.
I took it slowly with the thought that Jeffery would soon catch up to me and we could tackle the tricky sections of the summit together. It didn’t take long before I hit ice. It was still frozen solid with the temperature being so cold, it was covered in soil as a result of all of the hikers having passed over it the day prior and it had good foot holds already kicked into it. It was only a mile or so from the summit where I felt the need to stop and don my spikes. The route was becoming steeper and I was starting to slide back when I stepped.
The microspikes made things a whole lot easier, I was able to continue on up the mountain without issue.
When I reached the ridge the wind had picked up and was gusting strong ice cold wind over the ridge line. It was an incredible sight. I was hiking through cloud and the below freezing temperatures meant all of the vegetation around me was freezing. I was so glad to have my gloves which I’d taken from my box in Wrightwood the day before.
As I made my way to the summit everything started to freeze, the moisture on my rain jacket, the straps on my hiking poles and even the hair around my face! Anything that was accumulating moisture from the clouds was freezing.
After reaching the junction the walk to the summit was short. I was surprised to reach it so quickly and felt elated to have made it, in such crazy conditions it was a challenge and an adventure. I felt proud.
This were on the upper cusp of a winter wonderland and were moving into snow storm territory so I didn’t stay too long at the summit.
I signed the trail register which was also frozen, took a couple of summit selfies and began to make my way back down.
Back down to the junction and the actual trail had been covered in snow, plenty of people had come through before me though so I followed the well trodden path through the snow. Sometimes the direction felt less logical than others however I met a couple traveling the opposite direction to me who assured me the trail was good to follow.
As I slowly made my way down the mountain the conditions changed the lower I climbed. First, the winds stopped, second it started snowing and third the snow stopped and the rain began. It is a lot warmer walking in snow rather than rain, the snow is dry and falls straight off your jacket where the rain chills your body quickly.
My trip up to Baden Powell was a great experience. Despite the lack of views it was an incredible adventure and one of my favorite days on trail yet.
It was also a great learning experience for me, I’d used my microspikes, fallen over a couple of times and learnt how dangerous a fall on a icy pass can be. I’d also gained some confidence moving through snow and ice.
There was snow forecast for the evening and I was becoming bitterly cold in the rain so I decided not to walk too far after the descent from Baden Powell. The most practical place to camp was the trail head car park. I knew people had done the same thing previously and when I arrived another couple were contemplating it. It was only 3pm, it felt odd putting the tent up so early but my hands were numbingly cold from the rain and I wanted to warm up. I put the tent up as fast as I could with the rain still spitting down. I put my thermals on, made hot chocolate, ate snacks and listened to audiobooks, drifting in and out of sleep. It was the perfect afternoon of rest after an eventful morning.
Later in the evening the rain and wind slowed and I enjoyed watching little crystals of snow begin to form on the tent. I fell asleep feeling excited about the prospect of waking up to a dusting of snow the following morning.