Mile 352 to 369.4 Wrightwood

While the views from the top of the mountain campsite yesterday were excellent, the winds that came after the sun went down weren’t and my tent was flapping around all night hitting me in the head when a strong gust came. On top of that, I overslept for the first time not waking until I heard the muffled calls of Harley through my ear plugs.

I changed in my tent and popped my head out to find myself staring at a wall of white.  We were in a cloud and everything was wet, including my backpack. Luckily, I lined it with a trash compactor bag and put all the important things inside so they weren’t wet.

I hurriedly packed up and my hiking mates kindly waited. They overslept their alarms too. We started on trail by 6:00 in bad visibility.  We were aiming to do the last 17.4 miles to Wrightwood where we would spend two nights. Of the remaining miles, the first 11 were uphill and we would climb to an elevation of 8,247 feet. Considering we were at 3,000 feet the day before, that is a fair bit of climbing.

I am sure there were great views, but sadly we missed them all as we walked. It was a strange feeling because we couldn’t tell our progress by visual clues, but our phones told us we were making good time.

We started in a light mist that turned to rain and then back to mist, and we alternated between raincoats and just our normal hiking outfits. As we climbed higher, it became colder and the rain changed to freezing rain and then snow, which seemed to be Mother Nature’s preferred form of precipitation for the day.  At first it wasn’t sticking, but it gradually started to accumulate on the vegetation and then the ground. I was kicking myself for leaving my mittens at the very bottom of my pack and hiked without them for the day.

Burnout and Baldy fell behind so Bedazzled and I hiked together for most of the day alternating between talking and periods of silent walking. The clouds did break very briefly for a few moments and we saw snow capped Mt. Baldy rising near the trail.

After 6 hours of hiking, we had covered the 17.4 miles we needed to hike. B&V came in 15 minutes later and Valdy scored us a quick hitch into Wrightwood.

Luckily, Wrightwood is a small ski town with all the restaurants and shops grouped together and very walkable, which is great for us hikers. We grabbed food at the local cafe and I got my favorite brunch meal, the Monte Cristo. Bedazzled and Burnout both got huge double patty hamburgers and Bedazzled devoured her’s before Burnout got through half of his. This girl must always be starving on trail.

Next, we went to the local hardware store, which has a place for hikers to hangout and a list of trail angels that will host hikers for a night. We called around, but everyone was full or didn’t pick up. It looks like a lot of hikers decided to stay another day rather then hike out in this weather. Luckily, the snow was only on the mountains and not in the town itself, which is only at 6,000 feet.

Out of nowhere, a customer at the hardware store approached Burnout and said he had a place in town and could host the four of us! He was on his way to drop another hiker at the trailhead and said he would be back in an hour to pick us up.

Steve came back and took us to his lovely house that he has been fixing up. He is an engineer and designed the deck himself, hung all the wooden siding, and basically everything else. His son hiked the PCT two years ago and he is repaying the kindness his son received on trail by helping PCT hikers. He let us do laundry, shower, opened a bottle of wine and served us cheese and crackers. Then he took us to a restaurant in town for dinner and picked us up when we were done and shared another bottle of wine. His son just finished his second year of med school and is currently biking in the Yukon after kayaking up to Juno, Alaska from Washington state.

The day turned out to be a great one after a wet and snowy beginning thanks to Steve’s kindness.

Wildlife: squirrels

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