Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 21, 2011

Start: 369
End: 384

After a late night last night, we ended up getting up pretty early, around 7am. Drop Dead made some delicious banana buttermilk pancakes and we lounged around for a few hours. At about 10, Kylie, Wiz, and I walked over to the Village Grind, where they offered a free cup if coffee to hikers in exchange for a picture and our names. To our surprise, there a was an olde man named Kirk playing the guitar and singing his own songs at the cafe, so we hung around and enjoyed his musical stylings.

After coffee, we grabbed some sandwiches and salads for lunch and headed back to Courtney's. We watched a movie called 180• South, and lounged even more. The other four hikers got a ride back to the trail at about noon. Everyone seemed pretty content to stay, however Wiz has to get to Agua Dulce by Tuesday so he can get a ride to LA to catch his flight back home for his sisters wedding. I was also feeling a bit antsy and wanted to get out of town, so the two of us ended up getting a ride back to the trail and were hiking again by 3pm. The others decided it would be easier to wait until the next day since the minimum mileage for the next segment is 15 miles, up and over Mt Baden Powell at ~9400', and then down out of the snowy section to Little Jimmy Springs Camp.

Wiz and I took it pretty easy to the base of Mt Baden Powell where we encountered a large group of boy scouts who had just come down the mountain. We asked them and the scout leaders how it was, and they told us there was quite a bit of snow, they broke a few trekking poles, and the snow was a little bit slushy and slippery, due to the time of day.

The trail up the mountain consisted of a series of switchbacks zig zagging up until we came upon snow, probably around 8000'. At this point, we put on our microspikes and continued up the switchbacks until the trail was completely covered in snow. Once we got to that point, we headed straight up the side of the hill toward the top, following the footsteps of others who had done the same thing. It was slow going, but we made it up to the top around 6pm. The view was amazing! A full 360 degree panorama of multiple mountains, valleys, and hills shrouded in thicker mist (or smog) as they got further away. We enjoyed a snack break at the top, took some photos, and then headed down the mountain toward our nighttime destination which was still about 6 miles away.

The next 3 miles went very slow. The trail wound in and out of the snow along the ridge we were following, making it difficult to find the trail at different points along the way. It wasn't all that bad though. From a spot on the ridge we were able to have a magnificent view of the sun casting a purple glow on some distant mountains, and simultaneously enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen. The sun went behind a band of clouds above the horizon, making them glow orange, then dropped below the clouds, lighting the sky. As the sun continued setting, its color changed from orange to red and slowly sank below the horizon leaving the sky blazing with oranges, pinks, and reds; truly spectacular. After the break for sunset, we continued down the trail, eventually making it below most of the snow before it got dark. Once we had clear trail we were able to go much faster. We ended up hiking without our head torches most of the way. As the sky got dark, the valleys where various cities are located began to light up. So we traded a spectacular sunset for the city lights far below.

We finally made it to camp at about 9:10pm, only to discover a large group of scouts camping at Little Jimmy Camp. We spoke to a couple of the parents who said there were two troops camped out, totaling about 50 scouts, in addition to the ~10 other PCT hikers who were also there. Once at camp we quickly made and ate dinner and then laid out our sleeping bags and cowboy camped under the stars. One of the best days of the hike to date, even with such a late start to the day. This is what the PCT is all about.

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