170515 – Up, up, up

Day:  022
Date:  Monday, 15 May 2017
Start:  Interstate 15 crossing at Cajon Pass, Mile 342, 2995 ft
Finish:  Highway 2 crossing, Mile 369.3, 7365 ft
Daily Miles:  27.3 PCT, 1.0 other
Total PCT Miles:  369.3
Weather:  Cold most of the day, with rain early and snow later
Accommodation:  Tent by trail
     Breakfast:  McDonalds Deluxe Breakfast
     Lunch:  Gorp
     Dinner:  Rehydrated beef and vegetable stew
Aches:  Blister site under the front of left foot still tender
Highlight:  Some great views and spectacular snowy scenery
Lowlight:  Lost my map case, which I have had for many years, somewhere along the way, and also lost the tip of one of my trekking poles.
Pictures:  Click here  (not available yet)

Map:  Click here for Google Map

I was up at 5:00am, checked out of the motel and was eating breakfast at McDonalds by 6:00am.  It wasn’t a very pleasant morning, with light rain and a very cold wind.  Two PCT hikers came in while I was eating. Both had been camping and looked bedraggled and cold.

I left the trailhead around 6:30 and used dark underpasses to get under the freeway and rail line.  It was miserable weather and I wasn’t surprised to pass three hiker tents in the first few miles, the occupants no doubt still tucked in their sleeping bags and listening to the rain on their tents.  Almost immediately the trail began to climb and that continued to mid-afternoon. It followed a long spur, with the way ahead often visible far in the distance.  Mostly it was bare hillside, which didnt offer much protection from the wind and rain, and I pretty much just had to keep walking to ward off hypothermia.  Around 10:00am, the rain stopped but it remained chilly as the trail climbed higher and higher, now through burnt country where even the soil seemed to be ash.  To the east were fantastic views over the desert and back to Cajon Pass.

The grades were rarely steep, and I definitely prefer climbing to descending.  I just kept up a steady pace and took few breaks, conscious that I had a total of 22 miles to get to Guffy’s Campground, my target for the night.  Eventually the trail levelled out a little and I entered a conifer forest.  I was now above 8000 ft and it was cold and then it began snowing lightly. The higher I went, the more it snowed, though was only settling in some places. 

Teasingly, there were occasional glimpses of sunshine, but they never lasted long.  I reached Guffy’s at 4:15pm, but it was a bleak place, snow and ice covered and lashed by a bitterly cold wind and fog.  Not enticing at all.  Highway 2 was another 4.5 miles ahead and I decided I should continue walking on the assumption that the trail would lose some altitude and maybe the snow clear.  It did go down, but the snow on the ground was thicker.  Along the way it passed through some ski fields, which seemed appropriate.

I have a room booked in Wrightwood, a 5 mile hitch along Highway 2, for tomorrow night and began to think about phoning to see if they also had a room for tonight.  However, when I reached the highway at 6:30pm I couldn’t get a phone signal, so found a tent site nearby and set up in freezing cold fog.  The vegetation is ice covered and I think I am in for a cold night.  I’ll sleep in a bit, then hitch into Wrightwood for breakfast.

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