Wrightwood to campsite at 389.2 (369.3 to 389.2)
Daily miles: 19.9
Magical clouds thru the Angeles National Forest.
Take a walk down the road, about a mile and a half and score another cinnamon roll as big as my head. Pack out a massive blueberry muffin and apple fritter.
Get a hitch from the old Native American man who drives an ancient red Dodge pickup and works for the National Forest Service. He wonders if he should give the truck to his son who lives in the desert. I don’t offer up any advice and he speaks on. Cleopatra and Egypt and the lush Nile River Valley, the Mojave as it was millenia ago and the future of the forests of SoCal (not good if you’re a fan of trees). He’s a great guy; he says he’s here for the hikers and wishes me luck on my journey.
Big old Mt. Baden Powell is where the trails gonna take me. 9200 ft tall with a 3k ascent over 4 miles.
I consider the old red Dodge pickup. The lush Nile River Valley. The Mojave. Used to be new things, all of them, but now they’re old and getting older. Soon they’ll be reborn.
The masses gather and head to the mountaintop where nobody can see anything, on account of the clouds. A few hikers are gathered, smoking cigarettes and cursing up a storm. Clouds roll in off the wet Pacific and crest the ridge I’m walking on and get thrown back to whence they came by the warm dry air off the desert. It’s like I’m walking on an air-mass battlefield, with the clouds waging war over my head. The Mojave is winning.
As I hike down the misty, heavy clouds find gaps in the ridge and spill into the mountain basin. Clouds move westward, eastward, up, down. Clouds going in every direction and growing thick and leaving frozen streaks of water across my fleece. Sometimes I can barely see, the clouds are so dense.
Then I turn the corner and there’s the sun, burning the clouds away. A southbound section hiker passes me and tells me he’s handing out trail magic to all us NoBos (northbound hikers). I take 3 caramel candies from him and when he walks away I notice he’s hauling a Santa Claus sized bag full of bags of chips. Future trail magic for NoBos down the trail (his blog is at goaltechhikes.com and my picture should be somewhere on it eventually).
I find camp nestled deep in the forest, down off the trail and in a small basin. There’s a fallen log nearby, which serves as a perfect table on which to eat my dinner of ramen and junk food. I finish the day with over 5k total feet of elevation gain and decide it’s an early bedtime for me.