Ode to John Muir

Days 33 - 38:

After our zero day in Wrightwood, Kilo and I both had upset stomachs (from eating real non-noodle, non-peanut butter food) and had gotten little sleep because the street light outside our window made the bedroom as bright as day. We met up with the Bart Simpson from Germany to hitch back to the Inspiration Point trailhead. We immediately got a ride from the town’s local masseuse whom I wish I had known about 24 hours prior. We hiked the almost five trail miles to Vincent Gap and from there we opted to road walk on the closed 2 Highway to bypass Mount Baden-Powell. Kilo’s brother took our ice axes back with him and we just did not feel like dealing with the snow. The road walk was about 10 miles and felt as though we were the only survivors of the apocalypse. It is a rare thing to walk straight down the middle of a SoCal Highway with no cars or people in sight. We grabbed water from Little Jimmy Spring which was the best tasting water on trail so far, and then camped in the Islip Saddle parking lot.

The next morning while packing up our tent a scorpion crawled out from underneath it. I am glad that little Satan decided not to pinch us in the night, but was pretty excited to see my first scorpion. I have only ever seen them inside lollipops at the Phoenix Airport. Immediately after leaving Islip we had a 2,000 foot climb in less than 3 miles up and over Mount Williamson. We then had a road detour (walking on Highway 2 again) as a section of the PCT was closed to help save endangered frogs. To pass time while road walking we made up little ditties like “walkin’ on the road, to the save the toads.” I am pretty sure Kilo and I each saved 15 to 20 toads by taking that road detour. Camped at Glenwood Camp (“Dad’s Camp?”) that night. Two things about hiking through this portion of the Angeles National Forest: first, we were getting spoiled with the number of campgrounds and day use picnic areas because picnic tables and pit toilets were becoming a norm. Second, I have a whole new appreciation for all Angeles Crest 100 runners. This 100 mile foot race follows much of the PCT out of Wrightwood. In 2016, I was the crew chief for my friend Jen who successfully completed the race in under 33 hours. Now having hiked that section of the trail, my respect for Jen has hit new highs. It took us a couple of days to hike a section she did in a morning. It got hot in the canyons, but definitely not as hot as when the runners run through mid-day in August. I bow down to you, AC100 runners.

We spent the next day hiking with Fake News, Prometheus, Notaminer and ADL (All Day Long). The final destination for today was the Mill Creek Firehouse where (once again) we could have pizza delivered. At a ridge 4 miles from the Firehouse, we had to place our call into the pizza place because once we went down the mountain we would lose cell phone service. We placed our order and then the race was on! We had to beat the pizza delivery man to the firehouse. All six of us were literally running down the mountain. With each step I took I was chanting inside my head, “sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions. Sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions. Sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions.” I am fully aware this is not normal, but we did beat the delivery man. We did the 4 fastest miles we have done on trail yet.

The firehouse allows PCT hikers to camp in their upper parking lot. Right outside our tent, there were four stoners cooking their dinners and smoking weed. I was inside the tent blowing up my sleeping pad, when suddenly I hear them quoting John Muir. They would read a John Muir quote, say something like, “I f*ckin’ love that…he is the man,” and then pass the book (which was called, I later asked, “Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple.” They had picked it up at Mike’s Place - see previous post that discusses Mike’s Place). For about an hour, they took turns passing the book around, each reading a chapter.

Awesome trail name alert. We met Young G. Young G is on his first backpacking/thru-hiking trip. When he fell down Apache Peak, a narrow, snow filled ridge with about a 90 degree drop off to one side, his hiking buddies started calling him Young Grasshopper. But later, he drank from a questionable water source and so henceforth he shall be called, Young Giardia.

The next morning we left the Mill Creek Firestation and hiked to the North Fork Ranger Station. Spoiled again with a pit toilet and $1 ice cold Coca-Colas from the ranger. That night there was a thunderstorm along with lightening and strong wind gusts. In the morning, we were naturally the last to leave camp because it was freezing and I could not get out of my warm sleeping bag. It was a short hike to the Acton KOA where we camped for the night. While checking in, the clerk said, “I want to make you aware that in the night you may hear the Amtrak train, traffic from the highway, and lions roaring.” “Ugh, come again? What was the third item you mentioned?” Ah, lions roaring, of course. I did hear her correctly. There is a lion sanctuary next door to the KOA. I sure hope none of those guys escape in the night. Sure enough, the Amtrak trains started up again at 3:30am and at 4:30am all of the commuters into Los Angeles took to the highway, so we did not get much sleep.

10 miles from the KOA we hit Vasquez Rocks, where I had run a half marathon on the PCT back in October. From Vasquez, we walked to the Sweetwater Grill in Aqua Dulce for lunch. Kilo’s brother picked us up here and brought us back to his house in Santa Clarita. We will be taking a small break from the trail. More details on that, the 2019 Sierra Problem and our solution coming shortly.

Kristy Woodward