Saturday, May 3, 2014

Day 28 - An Ass Backwards Day

Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed, and today was one of those days. I'd like to say it was because of this or that but really I just woke up sluggish, achy and a tad on the cranky side. 

Most days I take a couple of Advil before I try to move around much and that usually does me for the whole day. This morning I decided not to take them and see if I'd losen up without the assistance. 

The first two miles were down hill and a good warmup but by the time I got down to Islip Saddle I was as stiff as I started. TC and DG were all saddled up for the big climb ahead and all I wanted to do was rest. So rather than take the trail I decided to walk two miles of road and link up with them when they came down the other side. By the time they had arrived I'd been there for 45 minutes and had taken a couple and stretched for a bit. BTW, this short road walk had an interesting passage through two tunnels. Good thing there is hardly any traffic on this road. 
Anyway the day progressed and it got hot in the sun with no wind. More road walking then we came to  Buckhorn CG where we got water for the climb down to, then back out of Cooper Canyon. We should have completely watered up in Cooper Canyon but there was hope the next water source would be running. Not so. That left us with not enough water to hike the remaining miles for today and the needed water for tomorrow. Dang it!

Unfortunately the closest water was Buckhorn CG as it was only a mile or so by road...even though we'd just hiked 3 hours around it in a circle. Nothing like going backwards. By the time we got here I had decided not to go back with the gals but to remain here for the night and try to catch up with them tomorrow. That leaves 20 miles till the next certain, drinkable water. It'll be another zero dark thirty take off in the morning. At least it will be cool for the first part of the day. 

While eating dinner some hikers came by and shared our picinic table. Sweet young men and they are
Cliff from Austin and
Coaster, the guitar man. 

I hope tomorrow is a better day, or probably more accurately, that I do better with tomorrow. 

Day 27 - Little Jimmy CG

Mileage for today was <15>. This included about 4,000 feet of climbing up to Mt Baden Powell. The trail doesn't actually go to the top but there is a branch trail that takes one to the summit. For myself, I had no desire to add any mileage to my day so I hunkered down between the roots of an ancient tree and tried to eat lunch. I did manage to get something down before my hands began to get stiff from the cold. You got it, big winds up that high. 
Four miles of switchbacks. 
A tad bit of exposure. Especially when the winds were gusting upwards of 50 miles an hour at times. 

The current section we are on will be filled with water management issues as well as the threat of Poodle Dog Bush. We (Tidy Camper and I) have  been through the water report and maps and have somewhat of an idea of were we can get water but some days will mean carrying water for 18 or more miles. We are incredibly lucky the temperature has been moderate (the wind helps with this) which allows us to carry less water than if it were super hot. So we think we have the water thing dialed in. 
Little Jimmy Spring. 

What I haven't yet talked about here, at least I don't think I have done so, is the dreaded Poodle Dog Bush. 

After a big fire, like the Station Fire of 2010, some plants who's seeds have been dormant, germinate then grow quickly after a fire and among other things, help hold the soil together so there is less erosion. Well our friend the PDB is one of those kinds of plants. It's life cycle is about ten years and in that time it can raise havoc with critters who brush against the plant. There are little hairs that get stuck on your clothing or skin and most people have a terrible reaction to it. Blisters, itching, oozing sores are the typical reaction. Sound fun?

Well in the next few days we'll be going into a big section of PDB which has me slightly concerned. But, what the heck! We will just have to cover up and hope for the best. I'll be posting pictures. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 26 - Layover day

Layover kinda sounds like one would be laying down, in repose and restful. Well that ain't the way it works. Though I did sleep in till 7:10 (amazing) I soon hopped up and headed downtown for a welcomed breakfast at the Evergreen Cafe and man, can they cook up a storm. 
I can never remember to take a picture before I start eating but you get the idea. About half an hour later TC and DBG showed up and we proceeded to eat our way through the piles of food. I still couldn't finish though I did try my best. 

Waiting patiently. 

So after the ritual stuffing of the face I went to the hardware store, post office, library and then back to the cabin to begin the laundry. 

A great gift is to have the use of this wonderful cabin for our brief stay here in Wrightwood. Angela's parents are so generous and it is greatly appreciated. 

SOMEONE was lucky enough to get a pre-birthday massage treatment, and it wasn't me. I can dream. 

Day 25 - The big push

If there could be one word to describe today it would be WIND. Beginning about 2am the wind was in the treetops and when I hit the trail at 5:10am it had become a steady, and chilly breeze. 

One good thing about walking in the dark is that you can't see where you're going. Well in the micro sense yes but in the larger context no. So I just barreled along and when the gals passed me, as they always do, TC told me we were on a 3mph pace. Geeze Louise!
The sunrise. 

So the wind continued and as the day progressed it got stronger and stronger till finally, somewhere after the middle of the day, I was having to brace myself against sideways gusts or I would have gone down in an ungracious heap. 

I did learn something about myself, and the wind. Ongoing, relentless wind sets my nerves on edge. I stop thinking as clearly as necessary and my tendency is to try to avoid walking into it. So when I found myself at an unmarked junction with howling (really) wind coming up a cliff the trail appeared to follow, I couldn't make myself take the obvious path. I walked to the center of an adjacent road and pulled out my phone (with the Halfmile gps waypoints on it) and the app told me I wasn't on the trail. Finally I convinced myself I had to walk past that blast place and once I did, I found I was back on the trail. 

There are lots of scary things out here on the trail and one of the most dangerous is ones own mind. Good to remember, the next time I get scared of the wind. And just so you know, for you Girl Scouts out there, I sang "Where does the wind come from" song the entire day...over and over again. Kinda like a mantra. 

We made it out before out target time for my dear friends Chris and Lisa, who were meeting us at Inspiration Point and taking us into Wrightwood. Box pickup at the hardware store, stuff dropoff at Angela's parents cabin (thanks Helen and Gene) and we went to the Grizzly Cafe for piles of food. I don't think the hiker hunger has hit me yet but I did a respectable job. 

It is completely amazing that I can walk 19.5 miles and still have some energy left at the end of the day. Well, energy for eating food, if not much more. But still! I'm amazed. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Day 24 - Mile 352

We had a leisurely start to the day. First was the continental breakfast which was a really good one. Eggs, sausage and four bowls of cereal (over a couple hour span) and pretty dang good coffee. Then we fiddled around packing for the next two days and finally left the BW at 11, walking back to the trailhead. 

I was happy to be able to leave my phone on today so I was able to get some images of the beautiful flowers I have been having to pass by for the last couple of weeks. For example. 

Walking under Highway 15. Going towards the light... No, don't do it!

Todays hiking day was fairly short, just ten miles. But they were all UP miles and I think they were harder for me today because of yesterday's long slog. While I wasn't particularly sore I was sluggish. But we got here in plenty of time to find a spot to camp and eat with plenty of daylight left. I'm sleeping out tonight - just because I can. 
My view for the night 

What everyone else sees. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day 23 - Best Western, Cajon Pass

I am so glad to be an adult and have a credit card I can use, and pay for. I don't really know what it is but sometimes on a long backpack trip there is nothing more aluring than an indoor space with hot water, a way to keep beer cold and a clean bed. Really, what more is necessary? Sometimes life really is that simple. 

Twenty-three miles is a long way to walk. I hadn't really planned to go this far but I arrived at my target camping spot at 2pm, way too early to stop for the day. Plus it was hot and dry there in Little Horse Thief Canyon. So, what to do? Well, further on was hot water and a bed... famous last words. 

So walk I did. Over and over again my feet kept up the pendulum thing and low and behold I finally got my sorry ass to the junction with the 15. As I was stepping onto asphalt I saw a gal walking back to her truck. She looked suspiciously like someone looking for hikers so I brightened up and said hey! She was Lion Heart, former PCT hiker and an angel to me. She was driving back to her home in Ukiah from the Kick Off and stopped here thinking there might be some hikers needing assistance. WOW! Did I need help right then!

She offered me a beer and we yacked a bit till I finished and she DROVE me to the hotel. Drove I say. With rubber wheels, shocks and the smell of auto stuff she delivered me to the best ever Beat Western where I plunked down my credit card and here I am, drinking a beer, yacking along here and getting ready to erase the stink of four days hiking. 
Lion Heart! Thanks!

The next image is of me with 23 miles of hiking under my feet. 
Note the wild hair and steely eyes. Both caused by too much wind and lack of repose. 
Me, after a shower and beer.