After waking up in a comfy bed, feeling lazy, we walked into the kitchen and found Dave was making us bacon and egg for breakfast – another treat! We also had lattes made from his fancy coffee machine, they tasted amazing compared to plain filter coffee we’ve had along the way. After breakfast we reluctantly left his amazing house and headed into town to resupply and relax there for a bit before heading out again. We had a second breakfast at the local coffee shops, this time it was bagels with cream cheese. Steve got our resupply box from the post office and we went shopping for the ever necessary chocolates and candy to feed our calorie hungry bodies for the trail ahead.
We found a kind man who offered to give us a lift back to the trail head to start our steep ascent up Mount Baden-Powell. We hiked the 4 miles to the start to the ascent and had a break to eat a light lunch. Then the uphill began. It was only 4 miles up, but we climbed from 6600 ft to 9400 ft, we were told it was 42 switchbacks! Steve was surprised to actually see most of the trail going up as last time he did it , it was covered in snow. We went at a surprisingly quick pace, desperate to be over with it. We were almost at the top when we came upon a snow drift and found another hiker really struggling. She had a very heavy pack and was scared on the snow as it was pretty steep. Steve quickly went up to help her and gave her some instructions. She lost her footing and slipped, Steve shortly got her to take her pack off and we tried to calm her down. Steve then kicked in some holes for her to get up and over the snow drift. I love my husband, such a calm and helpful presence in stressful situations!
The view from Baden-Powell was astounding! It was definitely worth the climb. From one direction we could see the Mount Baldy range, and then looking to the other side we could see the next few ranges of mountains we could hike, all the way to possibly, the beginning of the Sierras!
We had thought of getting to the next water source, which was also a nice big campground. That would have made it a 14 mile day. But after that big climb, we struggled to do the last 6 miles and decided to camp just before. We actually found a beautiful spot, protected from the wind and cold.
The next morning we just had 0.8 miles to the campsite with water, that’s not too bad. Unfortunately, I was not feeling good since I had conserved too much water yesterday and got a bit dehydrated, despite having lots of water in my pack. I was feeling lethargic and had a headache, and so we couldn’t push too hard that day. The descent made it a bit easier going, and once we got to the bottom, we crossed over the highway and had a light snack. At this point the trail is closed due to an endangered species of frog, so you can either do a 20 mile detour around the mountain (not ideal), hike up 1000 ft and down 1000 ft and road walk for a bit (okay sounding) or road walk the whole section (tempting). We opted to just walk the road as it seemed quiet enough and we would also get to see the pretty tunnels that the road goes through and avoid the uphill. After a few horrible miles of road walk in the heat, we got a lift to the trail head by a friendly trail angel. He had just dropped off a couple that we had last seen on day 3! It was lovely to see them again and we started off together, catching up. It was really hot today and ended up camping at mile 405 in a valley as I felt I couldn’t go on any further.
That morning we woke up to a wet tent from all the condensation. So that turned out to be a bad idea to sleep in a valley. We packed up our wet gear and set out for the day, hoping to find a place to dry out our stuff before we had to set up camp again. On the way, we saw a lot of poodle dog bush around! It was everywhere, but luckily the PCTA did a really good job at clearing it on the trail so it wasn’t bad to walk through at all. It was another sweltering day and we hiked 13.5 miles to get to the local fire station where we could get water and shade for lunch. There were a lot of people camped out in the shade, waiting for a cooler hour to start hiking again. This was a good place for us to dry out our tent and sleeping bags, and enjoy a good lunch of crackers, salami and cheese. Unfortunately, there weren’t many campsites from here to Acton so we had to plan accordingly. We heard rumors there was a horse campsite 6.5 miles on, which we got to find out it was burned out, with fallen trees covering most of the area. We had no option but to keep going and we eventually found a relatively flat spot at the trail/road junction. We looked at our map and realised we had gone 20 miles! Whew!
Another hot day began as we hiked uphill, avoiding all the poodle dog bush yet again. We would take turns to walk in front and call out on all the bushes to avoid. Our friends Byron and Erica joined us for most of the day and we pushed on the Messenger Flats, which is a day use area, for a morning snack as there wasn’t any other shade. After a much needed rest in the shade we headed out with the KOA in mind. The KOA is a trailer park and campground in Acton, offering showers, a swimming pool and the possibility of ordering pizza. It was too tempting not to go there. So we headed off to the ranger station for lunch, again it was the only available shade and the ranger was selling soft drinks and candy which we all quickly enjoyed at only 1$ each. The ranger told us that today was the hottest day so far, and down in Acton it was low 90’s (Fahrenheit). We decided not to wait out the heat and rather head to the KOA in time. It was a difficult stretch, even though it was mostly downhill, the heat increased as we came down the mountain and we kept going until we found some shade to cool down.
Now to tell this next story I (Kristin) need to give some introduction. My shoes have slowly started to rip on the sides from before Idyllwild, and it was getting worse each day after many attempts to prevent it. While were going down, avoiding more poodle dog bush, I tripped over an exposed root, and felt that my right foot felt very strange. I looked down to see that my toes were coming out of my shoe, it had completely ripped the whole length. My shoes finally gave up. I think its time for new ones. (See below for the gory picture below)
We quickly hiked to the KOA. We got there just in time to book ourselves in for the night and enjoyed a much needed shower. Byron was very keen on pizza, and very generously offered to buy us one too. It was an amazing offer, I couldn’t refuse. So we ate Canadian bacon (I didn’t know you got kinds) and mushroom pizza with a cold beer in hand. What a good feeling. We hiked just over 19 miles, which made 2 big days in a row.
My feet are swollen and are in need of a rest. Thankfully its just 10 miles to Agua Dulce and Hiker Heaven!