Happy Cinco de Mayo and 400 Mikes!
Miles Hiked: 17.7, including the old endangered species detour
Camped at: Camp Glenwood with Rei, Glimmer, Seamus, and Marsha (Gotta Walk)
Road walk! This was my first thought upon walking this morning. Guess I was anxious for the Endangered Species detour. There is a special type of frog whose habitat is smack in the middle of a portion of the PCT, which has been closed for several years. We had the choice of doing the old detour, which added on a mile, or the newer one, which added on 12+. While the PCTA endorses the new route the old one is still legal, but does include 2.7 miles of walking on Hwy 2. Well, guess which option most thru hikers are choosing! Myself included. I’m glad I took the old detour – I saw a grand total of 3 cars on the road walk portion and always had at least 1 foot in the shoulder, usually more. Very safe, but boy is asphalt hard on my feet after hiking on trails for weeks. I was happy to get to Buckhorn campground after the road, which I walked through as part of the detour. Picnic tables galore! Speaking of picnic tables, Angeles National Forest has an unprecedented number of picnic areas with outhouses and trash cans in this section, either at trailhead parking areas or trail camps. I ducked behind a bush all of 1 time today…and that was sheer laziness in not wanting to walk up the hill to the privy here in camp!
I had a bit of everything today – lots of climbing, lots of descending, shade, exposed areas, a beautiful creek amid huge pine trees, and a long water carry, which ironically I didn’t actually need due to a faucet we thought was turned off here where I’m camped. I woke up at my normal time of 5 am and despite being a bit sleepy got going as usual. I had a hard time falling asleep last night but it was my own fault – got sucked into reading a book and before I knew it 10pm had come and past, LONG after hiker midnight! If I had known I would stop here, I would have rolled back over for a while, as stopping before 5pm 2 days in a row felt extremely decadent. My body is thanking me right now though – I feel good and not worn out at all. With the next alternate, this time for a bad infestation of poodle dog bush, it makes sense to do another 17-18 miles tomorrow and start the road walk (this time not on a major road), which parallels over 10 miles of the PCT, the next day. Since it is so long, I had been debating what to do about camping in that stretch – this plan will eliminate that worry! Plus, going easy on myself in this section makes good sense so I can be well rested for the Mojave. Ahhh…thru hiker mentality of needing to justify “short” mileage, even to myself!
I didn’t see another hiker until noon today when Twice passed me, though I passed folks still asleep this morning, and then again no one else until 3pm when Rei and Papa Bear caught up to me in quick succession. I was beginning to think I was alone in the woods :). I was a bit lonely taking all of my breaks by myself again, but it was great here in camp tonight; we had a nice time getting to know each other better. Rei, Glimmer, and I also had a conversation about hiking our own hike and the “problem” we each had put on ourselves of trying to keep up with folks either faster than us or with different goals. So nice to know I’m not the only one :).
My freestanding tent envy is going through the roof – after yet another annoying time setting up in the wind and in sandy/rocky ground (death to stakes staying in without rocks piled on the lines), and still getting a less than perfect pitch….then watching Rei set up in a third of the time, I about had it. Glimmer pulling out her Big Agnes tent sent me over the edge! Poor thing, she fielded the tent angst that came pouring out. I like having a home to make my own every night – that isn’t fiddly!! Such a big pet peeve of mine. I’m seriously contemplating carrying the extra pound+ for my old tent. Or buying the new version which is only 2 lbs. While cowboy camping at low elevations/out of the wind is fun, I really don’t want to be worrying about my tent coming down on me like I am right now. Now that I have more experience with SoCal camping, my preference is definitely leaning towards tenting vs cowboy camping as the primary choice unless circumstances are ideal. Things to ponder, quickly, if I want to make a change in Tehachapi.
I can’t seem to help comparing this experience to the AT. Today, we had multiple crossings of the same road, and I immediately thought of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive….only different. For one, there is barely any traffic on Hwy 2 at this time of year, and definitely few tourists during the week. The views are spectacular, though the scenery is certainly west coast high desert ;).
Road walk view and one of the many picnic areas: