After a windy night on the ridge top, we awoke knowing that cold drinks and more food lay only 17 short miles down the hills. A short stroll led us onto an old paved road, which led up the mountain. This allowed us to avoid part of the trail inundated with poodle dog bush. A moderate climb took us past an old abandoned communications tower, creaking in the wind. With all the warning signs and abandoned equipment on the top of a wind blown hill burnt by fire, it provided quite an atmosphere to the first couple of miles. Reaching the top, we rejoined the PCT, about half a mile too early. This therefore required us to continue to dodge more bushes down some switchbacks. Four miles in we came to a nice campsite situated to provide amazing views to the north. Descending off this ridge into the wind, we wound our way down to a ranger station. At one point we finished dodging poodle dog bush only to start clambering past poison oak. With large parts of the trail overgrown, it made the trail slightly more technically challenging. Reaching the station we were buffeted by winds and other thru-hikers using it as a rest stop. Enjoying the shade, we felt comfortable, deciding that the longer we waited, the hotter it would be on the trail. It was eight miles to camp and showers, so with this in mind Sole Catcher took off early, content to continue on while he was in the zone. With a string of hikers ahead of us, we took to the trail at the back of the group. Winding around the hills, we could see our target thousands of feet below. Dips and rises over the next few miles kept us from being too comfortable, and as the sun heated up we started to push a little to rock into camp. Cresting the last hill we could see the hikers ahead of us grouped together under a pagoda. Reaching the shade, Aloha, a man who is helping his girlfriend on the trail, gave us Gatorade and chips, which were wolfed down. We met Frosty, who earned his trail name that day by the layers of salt that had dried on his clothes during the descent. Still feeling comfortable, we caught a ride with Aloha down to the camp ground. Stocking up on snacks, we lazed around camp, chatting to the multitude of hikers coming in. Dinner was pizza delivered to our picnic table, while talking to Lady Killer, who we hadn’t seen since Big Bear. Apparently he had managed to convince the women behind the counter at the Best Western in Cajon Pass to give him an extra night for 15 dollars due to an injury. His trail name is well earned, as he also sweet talked a women at the laundry mat into free soap and quarters. With a huge space to pitch our tent, I went for a swim in the pool before rolling into bed.
Miles hiked – 17