May 12, 2017
Total miles: 22.1 miles
Start: mile 347.1
End: Wrightwood (mile 369.2)
Total elevation gain/loss: 6300.5/2475.4ft
Today we were determined to get an early start to beat the heat (and make our water last to Wrightwood). We were up with our 4:30 alarm — no snooze button today! Of course, we woke to condensation once again and packed up our wet sleeping bags to be dried later.
We immediately started climbing up the mountain. Within 2 miles the sun was up and it was clear that it would be a warm day. I was grateful that we’d started early to take advantage of the cool morning weather.
Michael wasn’t feeling 100% and struggled a bit with the climb. I was feeling strong today, so I would hike ahead and when I found a good bit of shade (of which there weren’t many), I’d stop and wait. The trail was very exposed and it quickly became hot. It didn’t help that we spent much of the morning going through a recent burn area filled with burnt, leaf-less manzanitas. Due to the limited shade spots, we found ourselves leapfrogging throughout the day with Jade and Mike.
The scenery during the climb was somewhat monotonous. Combined with the hot weather and heavy water carry, I needed a treat. So I finally started listening to the S-Town podcast. Well worth the wait! (No spoilers in the comments; Michael hasn’t listened yet).
I found a good flat lunch spot to dry out our sleeping bags. In the shade it even got a bit chilly with the wind. Go figure.
In the afternoon we had more tree cover and the weather cooled down. There were even some patches of snow, which seemed crazy given our hot morning. This meant that in the afternoon the miles went much easier and I didn’t drink as much water. There was actually one off-trail water source that we’d heard mixed information about, but we were able to pass it by because our 8 liters combined water turned out to be enough.
As we got closer to Wrightwood it became super windy. I knew to expect wind on the PCT, but I’m surprised at how constant it’s been.
The PCT doesn’t actually go into Wrightwood, so we needed to catch a 6-mile hitch down the mountain. This turned out to be harder than I’d expected because there were barely any cars on the road. In our first 10 minutes no one passed! We were eventually picked up by a woman who works at a restaurant up the highway that sees a lot of hikers. Yay!
We picked up our resupply package at hardware store and tried calling a few local trail angels from a list at the store with no luck. It’s a Friday night and everyone is either full or not picking up. Same with the small motels in town, although we were finally able to get a room at a place just out of town. More than we wanted to pay, but our options were limited.
Since it was dinner time in a trail town, that meant it was time for pizza (why break the trend now?). We checked out Mile High Pizza, which was awesome. The owner was really hiker friendly and commented that we were the cleanest hikers he’d seen. I’ll take any compliment that I can get! He even threw in a root beer for free. What a great town!
We stopped at the grocery store to grab beer and ice cream before walking the half mile out of town to our motel. The owner is really nice and even offered to do a load of laundry for us when we asked if they had laundry facilities (they don’t, he used his private ones).
In the process of putting together or dirty laundry I discovered that I lost one of my bandanas. It must have been whipped off my bag in the heavy winds. It’s my first lost item, so that’s a bummer. Hopefully I can get a new one tomorrow at the hardware store.
Our cabin is simple, but will do. We’re so exhausted that it was basically showers and then bedtime for us. The plan is to sleep in a bit tomorrow to help make up for our recent big mile days!
Elizabeth: feeling good and ignoring my small blisters.
Michael: upper leg muscle tightness.