Day 28 Mile 420.8 – 444.3 (plus 0.3 miles to KOA campground)
Elevation: ascent 3,124 ft, descent 6,556 ft
Well today definitely had a lot of twists and turns. The temps last night were a bit cooler and I found it easier to sleep. Knowing how hot it was the day before we decided to set the alarm for 6:00 hoping to get up and hike with cooler temps as we knew the beginning of the day was going to be a climb.
The sunrise is getting earlier and the light is waking us before the alarm even goes off. We were packed up ready to roll by 7:00. We even took the time to enjoy some coffee and the beautiful morning sky. We left the Mt Gleason area and continued our climb up into gorgeous pine forests with lots of shade. We both commented on how great it was to hike in. Well this lasted for about 2 miles before the over growth returned. We were back fighting our way through tough shrubs that felt like you were getting whipped across the face and shins at the same time. This also meant frequent tick checks. Even with her “patented” tick swatting technique Double Down was able to pick up 3 more ticks. Maybe the technique needs more refining 🤣.
We ran into two more south bound hikers who had flipped up north to avoid the snow we just went through. Every hiker out here needs to make decisions that are right for them and allows them to feel comfortable and safe (Hike Your Own Hike). The information we got from them was that the bush whacking was going to continue most of the day. Funny thing is that information you get sometimes has to be filtered because it is based on experiences. The overgrowth we ran into after about 6 miles into the day was extremely mild compared to the hand to hand combat we were involved with the prior 8 miles.
The pine trees started to disappear as well as our shade. This meant the temps started to rise as quickly as the sun in sky. We got to Messenger Flats (popular campsite for Boy Scouts in the LA area) and decided to have lunch. We had a great views of the Antelope Valley and could see huge patches of California Poppies in bloom from miles away.
The afternoon took a downward turn in a lot of regards. The majority of the trail from here was downhill. Downhill can be great except when it is really steep making it hard to keep your momentum from getting away from you. It also puts a pounding on your legs which takes it toll. This happened frequently throughout the afternoon. Then the uphills we did have went straight up resulting in a lot of heavy breathing and profuse sweating. As the trail took its turn beating up on us, instead of the plants, we also got to deal with the heat from the sun. At times we felt like little ants under a magnifying glass. Made it hard to stop and take in the flowers that were still in bloom.
We made it to our tent site at 4:15 (around mile 430), but found it to have no shade. The sun wasn’t going to be going anywhere for awhile so the wheels in our heads started to churn. We were both tired and hot and knew that tomorrow we would take the day off for a zero for my birthday. We only had 4.3 miles to the KOA campground where we had to grab resupply boxes. If we could muster the energy we could make it to the campground and the Uber to Palmdale and enjoy a normal bed and AC for a day of rest. While trying to clean up our feet and get some of the aching to subside it wasn’t a tough decision to GO FOR IT!!
It took us a little over an hour to hike that 4.3 miles. Crazy how you can be so motivated by the comforts of normal life. The KOA was still open to PCT Hikers but not to RVs. Super friendly staff which would have made staying there easy if we didn’t have a hotel in our heads. While waiting for a ride we ran into the Danger brothers who we hadn’t seen before San Jacinto. We also met other hikers who were staying there and seemed like a fun group. All of them will be heading back to the trail in the morning. Maybe we will catch up to them after our day off tomorrow.
We were at our hotel taking a shower and eating dinner in bed by 8:30. Phew what a day! Our plan is to enjoy our rest and plan out the next week tomorrow as we might be asking our legs to increase the miles to help get through the next 122 miles before temps get to hot. We won’t have a post until we get back to the trail but are still thankful for all of you following along. Link.