Day 25: mile 375.7 – mile 387.7
Elevation gain: 3,250 ft
Elevation loss: 3,191 ft
Sorry, guys…we had no service all day yesterday and couldn’t post the blog!
If you can picture me saying this blog title with an annoyed, sarcastic tone then you’ve hit it perfectly on the head. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with the snow…I love how the pictures turn out when the mountains are all snowy, but I hate walking in the stuff. This is a picture of the portion of the trail we had this morning to get to the top of Baden Powell…the red line is the actual PCT with all the switchbacks, and the blue line is what we did:
We had no choice, really, but to walk straight up this stinking mountain. Those were the only foot steps we saw and we weren’t about to post hole our own back and forth across all those switchbacks. So we were walking by 7:30 after being treated to a gorgeous sunrise since we set the alarm for 6am.
We were walking up a 45 degree angle many times, which we know for a fact because Link took out his phone and measured! It was slow going for sure, but even at a slow pace we made great progress quickly since every step we were increasing our elevation by a foot or more (with micro spikes on, btw). So we were almost to the top of Baden Powell by 8:50! (Shout out to our son, Max, who earned his Eagle Scout rank just last year-since Baden Powell was the founder of Boy Scouts…yay Max!)
So we were feeling pretty good about ourselves when we got to the top and stopped to have a bar for breakfast since we didn’t have any clean water for our usual shake. And that’s when the snow said, “uh, I don’t think so…check this next section out and then see how good you feel”. And then it got REAL…only 6 more miles to the Little Jimmy Spring which we needed to get to before we could have more water (remember we only had the Sulfur smelling water from yesterday so we were only drinking if we were desperate). “We should be able to bust out 6 miles, even in snow, in 3-ish hours”…”WRONG!”, the snow said. We didn’t get to the Spring until 2:30…that’s 8 miles in 7 hours, UGH! It was 100% snow, so trying to decipher which tracks were going in the correct direction, plus more postholing as the snow got soft, AND lots of ups and downs which were super slippery and sketchy. I think the biggest bummer about snow hiking is that it feels like you’re putting in more effort and energy with less of a return on your hard work!
We did have a few bonuses today tho. We ran into 3 southbound thru hikers who had flipped up north to wait out some snow melt and were now walking south to San Jacinto where they plan to then flip back up to the Sierras. They had just postholed this entire traverse section not 5 mins before we saw them. This meant we got to walk in their foot steps (on the actual trail) instead of summiting Mt Hawkins like all of the other previous hikers had done. Southbound hikers are a wealth of information to us as well as we are to them…trail conditions, water sources and tent sites: sooo helpful!
When we finally got to Little Jimmy Spring is was like we had walked up to a pizza party, we were ecstatic! The flow was phenomenal coming right out of the mountain and it was crystal clear. We were like 2 kids in a candy store…smiles ear to ear, filling up a bottle and drinking it down, finally making the breakfast shakes and pounding those down as well. It was the best tasting water we have had on the trail yet, especially after having the sulfur water, it was absolutely heavenly. I even said to Link, “it’s nice to burp and not taste rotten eggs afterwards”…it’s the little things, I tell ya.
We ended up staying there for almost an hour, sitting on these cool benches and trying to figure out what to do next. We have camped at the Little Jimmy campground years ago with the kids and I remember getting water from this spring while a PCT hiker was filling up as well. It’s so surreal to think about my conversation with him then and that now WE are the ones who are the thru hikers…pretty cool.
So now it was 3:20 and we had 2.5 miles down to a parking lot (with more snow). We didn’t know how long that would take but even though our whole bodies were super tired from having to constantly right ourselves when we would slip and slide in the snow, we knew we didn’t want to be done with our day so early and with only 8 miles to show for it. So we walked down and when we were only a 1/2 mile from the parking lot we ran into Disco and Lowlander! They had flip flopped too and were now walking southbound just like those other 3 hikers we met earlier. We ended up standing there and talking for at least 20 mins which we really didn’t have time for, but it was so fun catching up with them plus getting some key info about the trail ahead as well. Once we hit the parking lot we had one more climb up and over Mt Williamson which was another 3.1 miles. The guys told us that the climb hardly had any snow, but that there were no tent sites on the way up that they could remember. No snow = good, no tent sites for 3.1 miles = bad, it was now almost 5pm = also bad. We decided to stop at the parking lot to throw away trash (oh, happy day) and cook dinner on the picnic benches, then decide. It was 5:30 when we finished eating and we really didn’t want to camp in this ugly parking lot. So we decided to start the climb and see what happened. It was absolutely the most lovely feeling for both of us to be walking on snow-free, smooth trail! We didn’t see any flat spots to camp until we got to the top and there it was…a great spot! Sheltered, in between a bunch of trees, and with the most amazing sunset view. Sooo glad we decided to move on from the parking lot! Hey snow…you didn’t get the best of me yet! 😁 Thanks for reading guys! Double Down