Day 24 mile 358.6 – 375.7
Elevation: ascent 4,123 ft, descent 3,370 ft
Well first let me start by telling you that yesterday definitely wasn’t my day on the trail. Amy didn’t go into it but I struggled all day. The combination of heavy packs, feeling really lethargic and being bummed to be away from home and the kids made for a rough day. There is a good saying on the trail “never quit on a bad day”. We all will have them and generally if you give it a day or two things turn around and you love being out here. Well that was today for me.
We set an alarm for 6:30 hoping to get the 4 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing done before it got too hot. Last night was super comfortable sleeping as the temps were warmer and having a fully inflated pad helped us sleep so much better. I did have to get up three different times to put a stake back in that got pulled out by some wind, but overall we woke feeling very rested. We also noticed that not having to carry an extra 2-3 liters of water made donning our packs much less painful.
As we ascended during the morning we found ourselves entering more of a forest of pine trees. The smell of the pines was great to have and the shade they provided was even better. We got some views of Mt Baldy in the distance as well during our climb. We hit snow about 3 miles into the morning but is was easy to walk on since had been melting fast and was much more compacted then when we were by San Gorgonio.
The past twenty miles have been really dry with no available water so we had our sights set on Guffy Spring which was about 6 miles into our day. Then we turned a corner and noticed that the snow on a fire road had melted and left a large puddle. PERFECT!! We had our water source and didn’t have to wait another 1.5 miles to the spring. The puddle wasn’t deep but using a home made plastic cup (I had cut the bottom of a water bottle just for this purpose) we were able to get the 3 liters we needed. It also saved a a steep 1/4 walk to the spring, which was completely in snow as it turned out. While getting our water we ran into Alex (now SoCo) who we had met right before the snow in San Jacinto. He had the same plan, using that puddle to fill his bottles. He was heading into Wrightwood, but we may see him again down the trail.
Most of the day we found ourselves with great views of snow covered Mt Baldy and Mt Baden Powell (which we will summit tomorrow), as well as views off toward the desert and Victorville. These views really are what we love and made the day go by pretty quickly. We met another PCT hiker ( Diego) who we hadn’t met yet, and then crossed paths with Prickly and Packman who we had been with on our last leg. So strange to run into familiar faces even after long layoffs. Really starts to feel like you have a trail family out here.
The afternoon the views started to disappear as we descended down toward Hwy 2 and the trailhead for Mt Baden Powell. We ran into a handful of day hikers today and all of them were so happy to meet us and excited that we were out there trying to do the whole trail. At about 2:30 I check my GPS and noticed we had walked by our last water source about a 1/4 mile back. So the packs came off and I grabbed our water bag and headed back to a campground, which was closed but reports had the water still on. I got the water we needed but after getting back to Amy and filling our bottles we noticed that the water had a bad sulfur smell to it. There had been no signs saying it wasn’t potable but the sulfur is bad and we are limiting our use of it.
Around 4:15 we reached the trailhead for Baden Powell. We took advantage of a bench to sit and rest. I know this sounds silly but having a bench with a backrest is HUGE!! It was so comfortable and hard to get up from. The little things I tell you. Well as we set out for a spring which was only 1.7 miles away things got tough really fast. The trail to the summit has about 60 switchbacks but most of this was covered in snow. So much so that the safest thing to do was go straight up the mountain (following the footprints) versus staying on trail. This made for some really slow going and a lot of huffing and puffing. We reached the trail for the spring at 5:30. Except the trail was completely covered in snow and there were no foot prints going that way. We made the decision that the spring was probably under snow and we would be better off just melting snow with our stove.
Now it was time to find a flat spot that we could use for a tent. After climbing even more we found a suitable spot. Definitely isn’t how either of us envisioned the end of our day going. However we were treated with a great sunset while eating dinner in the tent to stay warm. We will get to test out if the extra pads we brought for sleeping on the snow provide the extra warmth we need.
Tomorrow will bring more snow and climbing so it is off to sleep as the alarm will be going off early. Link