Went for a hike on the PCT. Started at the trailhead to Baden-Powell near Wrightwood.
Right away I found this large puffball mushroom. I ate this for dinner two nights in a row.
Found wild onions but didn't eat them.
Stopped for water at Lamel Spring.
The view from Lamel Spring.
Not much snow left. It's Memorial Day Weekend. The same weekend in 2008 the mountain was completely covered in snow because it snowed continuously for 3 days.
The desert. Lots of smog.
Up toward the top there are trees called Limber Pines. They are much the same as Bristlecone Pines.
Approaching Baden-Powell's summit.
The view looking southeast from near the summit of Baden-Powell.
I made it just a little beyond this point in 2008.
The Wally Waldron tree looks like a scary face.
There is a marker at the Baden-Powell summit with all kinds of Boyscout slogans and quotes on it.
I think this marks the actual summit. It's just a tad lower than 10,000ft.
Continuing along the PCT you follow the ridgeline.
The view looking down toward the desert.
A hunched over tree. Apparently the wind blows pretty strong up here.
The trees are widely spaced but when you are up here it feels like a decent forest.
Here's a row of scraggly dead trees.
Pretty steep drop-off here.
I am well past where I bailed out in 2008. Now I'm inside my final 20 miles of un-hiked PCT.
Lots of up and down on this trail. It killed me.
I am looking forward to Little Jimmy camp. I've heard good things about it. I thought I might camp there but it was too early in the day to stop. I was thinking about it though.
There's a really nice spring just before Little Jimmy camp. I sat here with a bunch of thru-hikers for a while.
There were pretty flowers at the spring.
These were at the spring, too.
Here's a campsite at Little Jimmy camp. Seemed like a nice place but it was too early to stop for the day so I continued on.
The trail seemed a little more lush. We were on the north-facing slopes now.
There were lots of snow plants poking up through the pine needles.
As I approached Islip Saddle, there was this huge expanse of white ceanothus in bloom. The smell of flowers was amazingly strong.
This empty expanse seemed out of place.
Wallflowers among the ceanothus.
The PCT at Islip Saddle. That's Angeles Crest Highway.
Things were confusing here. There were two trails marked as the PCT. One went uphill and the other down. The downhill one was the detour from the past couple years. The detour went down to a place called Devil's Punchbowl. I would have been happy to take the detour and see Devil's Punchbowl if the official PCT had been closed, but since it wasn't, I took the official PCT and headed toward Mt. Williamson.
Interesting rock formations in the distance. I ended up camping somewhere over there.
I've reached the junction with the summit trail to Mt. Williamson. I opted not to visit the summit. I was in a lot of pain by now. I had overdone it for sure. I considered camping up here but it seemed to me this could become a very windy place at night. So I began a long descent.
Some artistry on the PCT sign.
Interesting rock formation.
The mountains here are VERY steep. After a long time descending, I took the first good campsite I found.
Here is my dinner. Puffball mushroom and dried anchovies in a coconut curry soup. It was pretty good. The anchovies are not horrible.
The view from inside my tent.
My tent and my campsite. My tent looks a little saggy. Oh well.
In the morning it was cold and foggy. My camera wouldn't take any pictures for a while. There was a detour in place here and I followed a couple of thru-hikers named Sunjay and Rest Stop as they led me through the detour along Angeles Crest Highway to Burkhart camp.
The Burkhart trail was very pretty and moist.
We rejoined the PCT from the Burkhart trail, aimed for Cooper Canyon Camp.
Columbine by the creek reminded me of Northern California. All along this section I felt I was either in the Sierras or Northern California. All the thru-hikers who complain about Southern California and wish they'd just get to the Sierras already don't realize they're practically already there.
Lupine covered some hillsides.
That's Sunjay and Rest Stop. I had a hard time keeping up with them. I expressed a little concern that I had bitten off more miles than I could do and that I might run out of food so they said if I kept with them they could get me to Agua Dulce by Sunday night.
The trail looks so much like the Sierras.
Sadly the cabin was locked. It had been raining and windy and very cold all morning. We had hoped to get out of the rain for a while and warm up.
Left to right: Rest Stop, somebody else and Sunjay. Rest Stop never stopped smoking even while hiking. He got his name because he took 45 zero days on the Appalachian Trail. He has hiked all the long trails multiple times. It's his way of life. The PCT was Sunjay's first long trail. Before this he had done a lot of motorcycle and bicycle touring.
Many more long and tiring miles later in the freezing cold rain and wind I arrived at Three Points. At this moment I have finally completed the entire 2663 miles of the PCT!
I celebrated my accomplishment by seeking shelter from the wind and rain in this pit toilet with Rest Stop, Sunjay and yet another hiker we met here. Sitting in the crapper filled with cigarette smoke. The sad life of Hiker Trash.
We continued on after a brief rest. The trail would descend now. Here's a pretty bunch grass meadow.
Now we're in chaparral again.
The yuccas were kind of a welcome sight. It's amazing how after hiking through Oregon and Washington a few years ago it took a long time to get used to Southern California again but now I feel at home and happy in it.
The Freemontia (flannel bush) is in bloom.
It's still really pretty country here.
Here is a little tiny spring. I think this is Fountainhead Spring. Not exactly what you'd picture for something called "Fountainhead."
We climbed into some really pretty country filled with pines and wallflower. That lady is a young woman we bumped into named "Gut Instinct." She seemed to be having a great time, loving every minute of her solo adventure. She was a strong, fast hiker, too.
It was hard keeping up with everybody.
All day I kept asking myself why on earth is it taking all day to hike 18 miles. I hadn't added it up right. I hiked 28 miles! I was in so much pain by the time I got here to Mill Creek Summit Ranger Station. When I arrived I was limping and hypothermic and a nice man was handing out hot chocolate. How happy that made me! I set up my tent here in this post-apocolyptic scene at the Ranger Station. The whole area had been devastated in the Station Fire.
In the morning, the same man was handing out coffee.
I felt much better in the morning after a good night's rest and some coffee. I began hiking toward the desert, aiming to get somewhere close to Agua Dulce.
This day would be dominated by Poodle Dog Bush, a fire-following plant that can cause dermatitis much like Poison Oak.
The flowers are nice. A lot of people are attracted by the beauty of Poodle Dog Bush and touch it by mistake.
It is becoming more desert-like all the time. I can see toward Agua Dulce and Acton now.
Looking again toward Acton.
A brief interlude of unburned, tree-filled beauty.
Then it's back to the burn zone again. The wildflowers in the burn zone are pretty nice.
I came upon a trail crew clearning Poodle Dog Bush. These guys are heros!
They used power tools. That's one nice thing about the PCT. They don't mess around with wimpy hand tools like they do in the Los Padres.
I'm now approaching a place I camped in 2008.
There's the place I camped in 2008. It's totally gone, completely covered over in Poodle Dog Bush.
There was still a nice little creek near my camp so I stopped to have a drink and rest a little.
After much dogdging of Poodle Dog I arrived at the summit of these hills where there would be various little dirt road detours from time-to-time.
This hillside was covered in red-stemmed plants that looked similar to Miner's Lettuce.
There was wallflower mixed in, too. Very colorful. There are always surprises just around the corner.
It's still pretty breezy and cool. I'm nearing Messenger Flat campground. I just have to descend another hill covered in Poodle Dog Bush.
Around lunchtime I came upon this small creek. I stopped here for a while and had some lunch and drank some water. This was a nice little stream.
The PCT was closed just past the little stream so now I would have to take a dirt road detour instead.
The road came close to the PCT again and I could see another hiker on the PCT. The PCT was marked with a sign saying "Foot traffic welcome" so I hopped back on the PCT. Lots of wildflowers.
Eventually there was a sign on the PCT saying that it was closed but there was no detour anywhere nearby that I could take. So I kept on the PCT and dogdged horrible Poodle Dog Bush for a very long time. It was quite exhausting. Eventually the PCT began its final descent toward Soledad Canyon.
I was pretty tired from the descent and in a lot of pain. When I arrived at Mattox Canyon at this lovely creekside camp, I called it a day.
I hike in Chacos with socks and long pants. After setting up my tent, I took off my pant legs and socks. Boy was I dirty!
The little creek next to my tent was almost dry. Just tiny pools and drying mud.
In the middle of the night I was awakened by the sound of running water. In the morning the creek was full and flowing!
I always feel better in the morning no matter how much pain I'm in the night before. I begin the last day of hiking.
That's Soledad Canyon Road below and the Vasquez Rocks in the hills above. I met Busted Magic, standing on the right. She got her trailname because on the Colorado Trail she tripped over a styrofoam cooler while night hiking and broke it. She broke the trail magic so they called her Busted Magic. This was her second time hiking the PCT.
The first view of the rocks of the Vasquez Rocks area.
Lots of people stayed at the KOA. I just walked on by.
You walk through the Santa Clara river for a little while. It's kind of dumpy and gross. One of those PCT places that make you feel like you're homeless.
You emerge at some railroad tracks and begin a climb toward the Vasquez Rocks.
Apparently this is the final spot where they completed building the PCT.
Climbing now. The final 4 miles to Agua Dulce.
Whenever I'm driving on Highway 14 I look over the edge to see if there are any PCT hikers on the trail. In the Spring I always see at least one.
You cross Highway 14 via this culvert.
On the other side of the culvert, Busted Magic screamed when she saw this snake. We stopped to look at it for a while. It is a very pretty snake.
I found this section of mis-matched stripes on the snake to be quite curious.
We are now inside the Vasquez Rocks county park.
Looking back at Highway 14. A boring picture for sure, but you can see the PCT and the thru-hikers from Highway 14 if you know where to look.
Well, that's about it. The rest of the way was pretty boring. The trail emerges at a road. I followed the road for a couple of miles to my truck which I left at Mendorider's house. I talked with him for a little while then drove to Agua Dulce for some lunch. I brought some Klondike bars and soda to the Sauffley's and took a sponge bath before driving home.